Christian Schaffner lives in a world in which every watch is a "timepiece", every pen a "writing instrument", every pair of spectacles is "eyewear".
He's the president of Davidoff, a luxury goods company that sells watches, pens, leather goods, glasses and perfume. Cool Water, an aftershave, is probably its best-known product.
As a brand it is probably mid-market, below Hermès and Louis Vuitton, closer probably to Montblanc or Dunhill, itself once better known as a cigar company before moving into clothes and luxury goods.
The company was set up by Zino Davidoff, a Ukrainian Jew who went to live in Geneva aged 6. After his schooling he travelled widely, particularly in Latin America, before returning to the shores of Lake Geneva and taking over his father's cigar shop.
The shop flourished, particularly after the Second World War. By the 1970s, Zino branched away from cigars, having sold his shop for a colossal sum, and started licensing the name to a number of manufacturers. He died in 1994.
The company Mr Schaffner now heads, which is partly owned by his family, has the rights to the Davidoff name for anything bar tobacco products, which Imperial Tobacco owns.
The brand's moniker is a distinctive oval shape. "People either love or hate it, but it's iconic," Mr Schaffner says. The brand is particularly popular in Russia and India and is growing rapidly in the Middle East.
"The spirit of Davidoff is somebody who travels and enjoys the finest things in life," Mr Schaffner says. He has a law degree, and worked in the gaming industry before joining a bank in Madrid. Here he talks about how to develop a brand and who would be the perfect ambassador for Davidoff.
q When did you get involved in the company?
a I started in 2000 and took over as CEO [chief executive] in 2005-06.
How would you describe the Davidoff brand? What are its values?
Zino had a beautiful quote: "Pleasure in a thing of beauty is the essence of a happy life." Within the brand there is the notion of pleasure, beauty for sure, but also in the things you are doing. On the other hand, the brand has a very male notion, Zino was deemed the perfect gentleman, not only his appearance but also the way he was living and dealing with people. Our mission is to bring the essentials of the modern gentleman to the market.
Who would be your ideal brand ambassador?
That's difficult. Somebody who is grounded, well-educated, very interested in different cultures, international, broadminded, not somebody who likes to show off, but enjoys peaceful moments. Maybe who writes a nice entry in his Moleskine or a letter to his friend.
Is it you?
[Untranslatable Swiss sound, like a sigh, or a glacier cracking.]
Do people buy the watch then buy the leather goods?
The products work well together in the form of collections. The biggest exposure is with the fragrances.
What is the most expensive product in your range?
A red gold chronograph that costs 19,000 Swiss francs (Dh76,073).
Is it difficult or does it make perfect sense that a company that makes watches can also make briefcases and also fragrances? Why would you buy everything from Davidoff?
At the end of the day it is a lifestyle that we stand for. We are not Patek Philippe, but we know how to do a proper product with the right quality.
How long does it take for a watch to go from the drawing board to the wrist?
About 18 months.
Can you give me some figures so we have a sense of the business?
I am sorry. Being a family company we do not communicate on figures.
What about size of luxury goods business?
We started 2008, and are represented in 24 countries.
Is China the holy grail for you?
I wouldn't call it the holy grail, but it's very interesting, its people are travelling. The barrier to successful entry there is higher.
It sounds like you are more an emerging market brand than a developed market brand.
Yes, up to a point. In emerging markets people are more open to new things. In old markets the subject is different, depending on what country. There we have chosen a different strategy. We want to work with a few partners that are with us in the boat on a long-term vision. In Switzerland, for example, at least 80 per cent or more are done by Asian people. More than 50 per cent by Chinese. What we have in western Europe is a well-developed market of stationery shops that sell leather goods also. This is a market distribution channel that is interesting and working well for us.
How many watches do you sell a year?
I cannot give you a figure.
Of your different lines, which is the most successful or profitable?
When it comes to turnover, watches are the most important. Pens have the most rotation. Cufflinks also.
Any product lines that have amazed you with the success or upset you with the failure?
In the watch line we had a chronograph with a second time zone. We thought it would make sense, but people said it wouldn't work. But it did to our very nice surprise, it was also a higher price than we would have positioned.
What about future plans? Any brand ambassadors? I hear Tiger Woods is looking for a new watch to wear.
Many brands are doing this, it's hard to differentiate, I'm not saying we won't do this, but you need a spokesperson that is a perfect fit. We launched a scent called Adventure a few years ago and worked with Ewan McGregor, the actor. It made sense because he went out with his motorbike and had the adventurous spirit.