Oh to live the dream. Weíre all in search of a balanced life - one where the rigours of our professional life is balanced by the pleasure enjoyed during our time off. In the first of our new series, Time Off, Menís Passionís Simon Balsom meets Patrick Normand - the man who holds in his hands the responsibility for promoting and protecting one of the worldís most prestigious brands - Cartier.
A resident of Dubai for the past eight years, heís known throughout the region at the effusive ĎMr. Cartierí, and heís a man few who meet him have ever seen out of his impeccably tailored suits. A master of sartorial eloquence, he also acquits himself rather well when it comes to the rare occasions when he allows himself some time off to pursue his true passion - sailing.
SB: When did you start sailing?
PN:Iíve been doing it most of my life now. I first sailed when I was nine or ten. My family is from Brittany, and I think anyone who comes from close to the sea has a very strong connection with the water and hence a passion for sailing.
SB: I know you sailing with the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, and youíve got a couple of great boats.
PN: I have, if you like, one and a half boats. My own yacht, and another one which I share with a friend of mine. Itís a twenty-two footer, a J-22, which we race against others of the same type. Everything is the same; the same boat, the same rigging. That is where we find out who is the best - (laughing) which I am not!
SB: How does that make you feel? Youíre a competitive guy!
PN:Well, of course Iím not too happy about that! But on the other hand, when it comes to something like this, what I enjoy most of all is seeing the crew working together so well, and being able to be a part of that.
SB: Who crews with you?
PN: I donít always have the same crew on the boat every time, so itís more about being out on the sea with a good group of friends and just having some fun. Thatís whatís exciting.
SB: The boat we photographed you on is something rather different and rather special. A Beneteau 36.
PN:Yes, itís a great boat. I bought it because I wanted to have a bigger boat to relax on. Itís a faster boat than the J-22 obviously - itís bigger and more powerful, but still gives a very relaxing experience.
SB: Itís a perfect cruiser. What are your plans for it?
PN:I hope to compete in the Dubai - Muscat race before too long. It will be a great adventure. Iíll need six to eight crew on board and I expect us to complete the distance in somewhere between five and seven days, depending on the conditions.
SB: Itíll be quite a different experience to a short race on the J-22. I know living conditions on a boat over a period of a week can get rather cramped and uncomfortable. Iím considering the contrast between that and your more public role in life, with Cartier, which is luxury every step of the way. On the boat youíll be pretty much back-to-basics.
PN:Oh, very much so!
SB: But what fun!
PN: Absolutely! Itís great to have such contrasts in my life actually. It takes us back to nature. Itíll be just me and the team against the elements. Itís one of the most pure forms of existence it is possible to experience in this day and age.
SB: Whenever Iíve met you, I have to say you are immaculately turned-out. Even on the boat you looked pretty good too. Is it important to you that people see you always smartly presented?
PN:(laughing) Well, at least Iím clean when I get on the boat, you may not want to get too close to me as I step off though!
SB: To sail in the Gulf, you must be very committed to the sport. Youíre doing it under the most extreme conditions of physical endurance. Just standing still in the heat and humidity of Dubai is draining. But to be out sailing for hours on end is an extraordinary challenge.
PN:I donít really feel it like that. When you sail as often as we do, you donít real feel the conditions as being so extreme. Sailing through the winter season is not a problem, and by the time summer arrives, gradually, we are ready for it. We also tend to sail when the winds are more reliable, and that tends to be after 3.30 or 4 oíclock in the afternoon.
SB: But itís important to have respect for the elements.
PN:Youíre right. As I said, I think this is one of the purest experiences left in life today. We always need to watch for changes in the weather. Last year I didnít like the look of the conditions as I sailed out of the harbour one day, so I turned back. Another boat, with friends of mine on board, was already out there. They got caught in some very high winds and rough seas which ended up with their mast coming down. It could have turned in to a very dangerous situation. Iím always very mindful of safety, but equally keen to experience an adventure.
Founded in 1847 by Louis Francois Cartier, the family-run Cartier firm has expanded to become an international jewellery house with a reputation second to none. For generations, the House of Cartier has enjoyed the gift of sophisticated expertise. The art of fine craftsmanship and the search for exquisite material has set Cartier apart ever since.
From the very beginning Cartier brought new horizons to the world of art and jewellery and distinguished its clients by the unique designs and the strong signature of all the creations.
Since the 19th century to the present day, Cartier has been associated with the magic of fine jewellery and watch making and extravagant luxury items, attracting people from all cultures, in search of something that expresses individuality, refined craftsmanship, tradition and style.
Starting with Paris, 13 Rue de la Paix legendary boutique, Cartier conquered the world major cities. It has establishments in London, and on New Yorkís Fifth Avenue, its history packed with colour and glamour, splendor and power.
Today Cartier operates a network of more than 250 boutiques around the globe. In Kuwait, the entire range of Cartier creations is available in the Cartier Boutique at Salhiya Mall, and will be opening a second boutique in 360 degrees Mall.
For more information on Cartier, readers can visit
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #17 November 2009