In 1911, Henri Davidoff established an eponymous specialty tobacco retail shop in Geneva, Switzerland, creating the foundation of what would become a globally recognized leading luxury brand. While Henri started the tobacco shop, his son Zino would guide it into worldwide prominence through his constant quest to provide his customers with the very best products available.
Born in 1906, Zino traveled to South America at age 19 to visit a friend of his father’s and to learn all he could about tobacco. Working the farms and factories in Argentina, Brazil and Cuba, Zino discovered a passion for tobacco, and especially for Cuban cigars. After an apprenticeship of five years abroad, Zino returned to his father’s store in 1930 and added Cuban cigars to its selection. From the 1930s on, the Davidoff store became the best-known purveyor of Cuban cigars in Europe, with customers from around the world coming to the shop to not only purchase their cigars but to spend time with the eminently charming and worldly Zino.
In close partnership with Cuban cigarmakers, Zino, who was one of the first to draw a parallel between wine and cigars, recommended that new brands being made exclusively for his store be named after Bordeaux wines, thus raising the profile of premium cigar enjoyment. Zino’s sales and marketing techniques proved so successful that, in appreciation of his business acumen, Cubatobacco, the government-run agency that managed the Cuban cigar industry, honored Zino with the opportunity to launch the first cigars under the Davidoff name in 1968. Featuring a small white band that read “Davidoff” in gold letters, Zino created three sizes with the Cubans: Ambassadrice, Davidoff No. 1 and Davidoff No. 2. The cigars were simple yet refined, the perfect example of Zino’s constant chase for the finer things that life can offer.
By the time of his death in January 1994, Zino’s name had become synonymous worldwide for the pursuit of pleasure. He had sold his business to Oettinger in 1970 but had remained with the company, known afterward as Oettinger Davidoff, to represent Davidoff cigars worldwide. While he’s been gone for 24 years, Zino Davidoff’s spirit, passion and pioneering vision are still very much alive.
“Zino still is our guiding light when developing cigars and campaigns or interacting with valued consumers in our stores every day,” says Edward Simon, Davidoff’s head of global marketing and innovation. “Zino’s spirit keeps us always rooted in the things that he valued most—treating people with respect and working hard to present them with the best experiences possible. He cared not for borders and boundaries. It was his restless pursuit of new tobaccos, blends and personal connections [that] has proved the inspiration for everything we have done in the past five decades.”
Celebrating 50 Years
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Davidoff cigars, the company is inviting its retailers and consumers to join in the celebration, which will include special events and product releases throughout 2018. The company kicked off its iconic brand’s golden anniversary at the beginning of the year with the introduction of a special 50th anniversary commemorative band on its Signature No. 2, Signature 2000, Aniversario No. 3, Aniversario Special R and Aniversario Entreacto cigars.
In May, the company re-released the 702 Seleccion Limited Edition, but the celebration will kick into high gear beginning at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) show in July, where Davidoff will host a special launch party on the show’s second day for the re-release of Diademas Finas—a cigar that was last available in 2006 to commemorate what would have been Zino Davidoff’s 100th birthday.
Dubbed the 50 Years Limited Edition, Diademas Finas (6 3/4 x 50) cigars are made from an Ecuadorean Habano wrapper, Dominican Olor seco binder and an all-Dominican blend of filler tobaccos. The cigars carry a special golden band that reads “50 years” and a second white band that reads “1968-2018.”