“I was always ahead of my time and people noticed“ – Mohammad Sultan Al Habtoor on being a Piaget game changer
Luxury is a lifestyle
M ohammad Sultan Al Habtoor has just been named as a game changer in Piaget's new Polo S campaign, alongside actors Ryan Reynolds and Michael B Jordan, French chef Jean-François Piège and Belgian tennis champion David Goffin. Now, in an exclusive interview with Buro 24/7 Middle East's Editor in Chief Shannon Wylie, Al Habtoor discusses his collaboration with Piaget and why the Andy Warhol watch is the ultimate timepiece, plans for the future which runs in parallel with the direction of the country's leadership (hint: it includes gluten free restaurants) and how Paris has become his family's go-to home away from home...
Congratulations on becoming the Middle Eastern face of Piaget.
Thank you very much. It's a great honour to be apart of this beautiful brand.
Tell me about the video. It was so well done.
Luckily Abdullah and I grew up together and we've always played around with video cameras. We also have this videographer, Mr. Jose, who has always shot our collaborations and our brainstorming sessions. We did seven locations in one day starting at three in the morning, I woke up at 2:30am, had my shower, packed up my car, went to meet them at the location and did shot by shot by shot.
Please talk us through your collaboration with Piaget...
The collaboration started a few months ago in Paris. Piaget approached me about this new watch - they immediately made me feel at ease and our relationship just grew from there. Initially I wasn't sure if I was actually able to collaborate with them, but then I said "why not"? So here we are today with this beautiful launch of the Polo S.
When I work with someone, it needs to be just not a business relationship; it needs to be a friendly relationship, a family and something I can hold onto for the rest of my life with only the best memories.
Your calendar must be extremely busy...
Yes, I have my own company and we've been working on food and beverage in the lead up to Expo 2020. And inline with the leadership of the country, we want to go a little more green, more gluten free.
Cases of gluten intolerances are definitely on the increase. Tell us more about the project...
Our main focus is to create products that are friendlier and more alkaline. Also in the pipeline, within the next year or two, we're looking at opening our own restaurants. We'll be bringing some concepts from abroad, and we're also looking at creating our own.
What is that correlation between Piaget as a family and your perspective of "family" in the Middle East? Because the Middle East is very much family orientated as well.
Absolutely. When I went to visit the manufacturer in Switzerland, I went to the factory and I met the people that have been there for 50 years. That tells you in a nutshell just how integrated the Piaget family is. From the CEO to the gentleman that opened the door for me, they all knew each other and they all have beautiful smiles and I knew I was entering into a safe zone. There are also people that have their own children now working in the company. The youngest person was about 21, I believe if I wasn't mistaken, and he was a diamond fitter.
I grew up seeing my father wearing a few of their beautiful watches.
Are there watches that you hope your father will one day pass down to you?
There are two boys in the family so we'll have to fight over them for sure. But I'm going to try and sneak the Piaget watches and keep them for myself (laughs).
Piaget is all about luxury. What is the most luxurious item you've ever purchased?
My definition of luxury is not just materialistic stuff. I mean I find luxury in a cup of coffee. To me, luxury is a lifestyle but when it comes to purchasing an item that is luxurious, I will have to say my travels.
Where's one place that stands out for you?
Paris, definitely. Growing up as children, we were very well travelled and for some weird reason, my siblings and I always said: "Let's go back to Paris". There's something magical about the city that makes us feel very happy. If I had to move and was told that I needed to leave Dubai immediately, I think the first city I would live in would be Paris.
Paris is known for their fashion. Now, with the Piaget campaign, you've been labelled as a game changer. What is it about your style that resonates with people?
Growing up in this society, I was always a little bit ahead of my time and people always noticed that. Be it my trend, my approach to things, my love for art, even the way I styled myself or the way I dressed, I was always, in a way, borderline controversial. So there was always this hunger in me that said: "I'm going to take a step to do it before anyone else does". Pioneering.
Does it stem from your mother or travelling?
I think it's just within me. My star sign maybe? I'm an Aries, which are said to trueborn leaders. I follow that stuff but I don't believe in it. I think it stems from there. I was kind of rebellious but I was always getting straight A's in school. So I never gave anyone an excuse to say 'you can't do this' or 'let's punish him' because there was always something to balance me. I think this has stayed within me and in my DNA. People will always remember me for that.
Which Piaget piece do you have that's most special to you?
I don't have it yet! That's the thing. I am dying to get my hands on the Andy Warhol Piaget. Have you heard of it?
Yes, of course. Piaget exhibited the timepiece in Dubai recently...
Yes. They have this specific watch that I want so Piaget, if you're listening to this, it's the green faced Andy Warhol watch. It's in their archive. I don't know if it's on sale yet and I don't know if they're thinking about selling it, but if it goes missing, guys you can search me first, if you can find it. Good luck! (Laughs).
What about New York. It's where the Piaget Polo S originated right, so what are your views on the city?
I was in New York recently actually. I always stay at the same hotel, which is The Mercer, and they even have my initials printed and sowed on to my bed sheets. As for the restaurants, I have a bucket list! I'll do Indochine, followed by Carbone and then we'll do Café Clover, it's endless. Then, I'll visit a few of the galleries in Chelsea. I love the shows at the Brooklyn Museum, which not a lot of people go to. Then obviously I try and discover anything that is. Recently I've been going to Spring Studios and they have the new Casa Cruz pop-up, which is going to end in October but it's definitely something people should check out. What else? Oh! Lucien is a good place that people should check out. It's in the East village. It's a really good restaurant.
And in Dubai where will people find you?
I enjoy going to the galleries here in Dubai, Third Line and The Mine. I'm an avid art collector, but I also have limitations. It needs to be small enough to fit into my bedroom and my budget shouldn't exceed a certain number.
Discover the Polo S watch in Piaget flagship stores across the Middle East now. Also, don't miss the launch of the Piaget Polo S watch in the US.