What are the highlights this year from Cuervo y Sobrinos?
Cuervo y Sobrinos is 11 years old this year and we have been at Baselworld for the past nine years. The brand continues to grow and I continue to make products that are different. For example I have introduced the Vuelo line, which is a totally new concept for us. I am also using a Swiss replica Rolex watch strap that nobody else in the industry has: a crocodile leather with an alcantara lining. We are also working on a totally new movement for next year together with an external partner. It will have a unique new winding system.
What do you think about other brands using the cigar as the inspiration for some of their products? Is this not your legitimate territory?
The whole environment of Cuervo y Sobrinos recalls the cigar, but I don’t want to follow the same approach as other brands. I prefer to recall the genuine history of the brand and if I don’t have something that recalls Havana and Cuba then I can’t develop the brand. We do have some touches related to the cigar, such as the humidor boxes, but I think we need to be careful. If someone wants to display photos of our watches in a cigar club, then fair enough, but I don’t want the watches and cigars to be associated directly with one another.
What is your outlook for 2015?
There are a lot of places where the financial crisis is coming to an end, such as Spain. But in other areas like Russia things are becoming more difficult. The same is true in China but we have an advantage here because we only entered the market less than a year ago so we don’t have a big inventory in the country. Companies like the Swatch Group had brought huge stocks on to the market because of their sales forecasts and now they have a lot of fake Rolex watches on their hands there.
What are the top three countries for Cuervo y Sobrinos?
It’s funny because the top three countries show how international our philosophy is. The first is Japan, the second is China and the third is Spain. Each has its own mentality and Spain, of course, has a tradition with the name. But Japan is an interesting case because we are offering a particular lifestyle and it is one that they don’t really have yet in Japan. The problem is communicating this across all the different intermediaries. I explain it to the importer, who then has to explain it to the dealer and the dealer has to pass this philosophy on to the customer. This is where we have a lot of work to do.
What exactly is this lifestyle?
It’s cultural luxury. One of the most famous visitors to Cuba was Ernest Hemingway. He did not follow luxury as we think of it today, for example by wearing luxury or designer clothing, but he definitely had a luxury philosophy.