A brand for a Company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do something unique and out of the box.
“I’m not a driven businessman, but zealous about what I pursue. I never think about money, it’s all about passion”.
BM: Tell us a bit about yourself?
DN: Let’s just say I enjoy traveling and love food, so I created a company where I could do what I enjoyed, other than that, I like meeting people and exploring their cultures. I am now 46 years old and a lot is happening in my life. By education I am a lawyer, however, becoming a part of this industry was a coincident. I grew up in Switzerland and always wanted to go abroad; I found a job in Australia in the watch industry where I stayed for one and a half year and soon after moved to Singapore. There I met a lot of people, later due to a slight issue in Japan I was transferred there for 3 years. Eventually the company got sold and so I moved to Bangkok as I had gotten fed up, therefore, decided not to do this anymore. Thus, I created my own company so I could work the way I preferred. Gradually, I started to invest in new ventures beginning with a design studio based in Switzerland, which then inspired me to launch SevenFriday. Hence, today I proudly own two companies with good names.
BM: Your first job was actually in computing at HP rather than luxury watches. Where did your love for watches start?
DN: I like watches but I’m not a watch fanatic; I like cars, food and a lot of other things but what I really adore is branding. Branding is about people, their psychology of decision making fascinates me. The reason I was in IT was because the development in the IT industry really captivated me, it’s fast, innovative and life changing prospects took the world by a jolt, however, I must say that the watch industry has not changed much in the past decade.
BM: From working for a watch business to owning a watch business, tell us about your journey.
DN: I always wanted to do what I enjoyed. I want to have responsibilities to look forward to, when I reach the office on a Monday morning. I want to work with people I prefer and say “no” to what I feel is not appropriate. I can proudly tell you that most of the time I’m not working, and you may ask why? It is because when you enjoy what you’re doing it’s not work anymore. I’m not running after money, as I believe that when one chases for money then he is not always successful, instead, lives a very depressive life. So basically, I have no lust for money but I’m actually chasing my dream.
BM: Do you think your time working in Asia, changed your perspective about design ethics?
DN: My time working in Asia has definitely changed my perspective and that too not in one but in many things. Talking specifically about design, I can’t precisely state how much Asia has influenced me, though.
BM: Now that China has brought great quantity with bad quality; how has this affected the industry? What is your say on that?
DN: China’s products are not always of bad quality. I can name a number of brands that are Swiss, being made in China which are infact quite sustainable. So, I think this is a misconception as China undoubtedly, has good quality brand products alongside hardworking man-power. The main problem is the copying and imitations, eventhough, as a brand it is at times a compliment to have imitations in the market but, it is not fruitful for the company and the brand. As a brand we invest a lot of money and time to make something worth the while and when someone just comes and copies it one on one just to make some money, it is very annoying. This year there was a very steep downturn in the watch industry and it’s not because of the Chinese productions but the Swiss watch industry, instead.
BM: SevenFriday is known for its square design, what was the inspiration behind it?
DN: When the company was made, we had decided that we will not design basic round watches, although the most sold chronographs are round. The world has a lot of brands and surely a lot of watch brands too, therefore, if one has to stay in the market, one needs to do something unique. Hence, the square design idea was something that no brand had come up with, so we decided to go in this direction of manufacturing. Other than that, it has this element of a TV screen like something in the 50’s, creating a balance between modern and classic.
BM: Do you think celebrity brand ambassadors play a vital role in making the brand reach its target market?
DN: Apparently it does play a role as a lot of people buy watches when they see some renowned personality wearing that brand and so the people associate themselves with those celebrities. However, on a personal note I don’t understand this, I don’t think I ever bought anything because a celebrity was wearing it, and it’s also not right as everyone knows that the person wearing the watch did not pay for it.
BM: From all the experience you hold now, what advice would you give yourself as a starter?
DN: I have made plenty of mistakes but, there is not much I regret today. I believe things are going well because I made those mistakes, which actually helped me gather experience before I could start my own company.
BM: You seem to have a very relaxed and friendly approach to doing business. Is this something that comes to you naturally or have you had any business mentors along the way?
DN: I learnt this living in all these different countries, imagine yourself landing in China knowing nothing about their culture of language and you have to do business the next day. It challenges you a lot in learning and improving but you gradually build your way out in the positive. My dad was a wise mentor who I always told I wouldn’t listen to but, I always did. There were certain elements that he repeated that I realized later I was following, subconsciously.
BM: How do you balance your personal and professional life?
DN: I don’t, it’s all the same. I’m working all the time and I enjoy what I do. Usually if I’m travelling somewhere and my wife or kids are free, I take them along. We do this “SevenFriday games” once in a while which is a replacement of the boring conventions, sitting in a hotel for two days in front of a PowerPoint presentation telling you how you should feel about the brand which in my opinion makes no sense. Eventhough I have no interest in attending these conventions, but it is a job requirement. So, every year we visit a new country to get a SevenFriday experience, and I tell everyone to bring their family along. Basically I don’t have to face any issue with balancing my life, either professional or personal.
BM: How important do you think is a wrist watch in building a personality?
DN: I don’t believe it’s that important, you don’t need an object to build your personality but it’s an expression, like a woman’s handbag reflects her personality but doesn’t build it. Similarly, a watch gives the same impression.
BM: What is the next big thing we will witness by SevenFriday?
DN: The next big thing will be seen soon. We are opening a restaurant by the name of ‘SevenFriday’, alongside a watch boutique so people can order from a menu of food and a menu of watches. A representative will come to the table explain the brand to you, if you don’t like it then never mind, he will disappear. You don’t need to buy a watch since you’ll be in a restaurant at the same time. We are then also planning a huge punk concert on the 29th of June in London, through which we will launch a limited collection for UK which will reflect punk as a philosophy.
The watch does not represent an individual anymore. It represents the personality and his taste for a brand and its design