To write an article on Jean-Claude Biver’s career & contribution to the watch industry is a challenging task, Simply one article in not enough.
Biver’s influence is behind the most admired & collectible watch brands in the world, From Audemars Piguet, OMEGA, Blancpain, Hublot, Tag Heuer & Zenith. This man is a genius entrepreneur & a Legend in the watchmaking world.
I would like to highlight in this article his career & provide a brief introduction to this man’s Journey for new generations & watch enthusiasts.
Before jumping into his career overview, I have always been fascinated with the story or the event that triggered the passion for any watch lover.
After seeing his friend Jack Piguet, the owner of the watch movement manufacturing company Frédéric Piguet, wearing a watch with no dial, testing the Ultra Slim Caliber Frédéric Piguet 70 Movement. The mesmerizing mechanical details reminded Mr. Biver with his favorite Toy, a Steam Machine! Which triggered his passion for watches.
After Graduating From Business School he knew that he would like work in the watchmaking industry. So lets have a quick look on this man’s highlights of his career.
AUDEMARS PIGUET 1974 – 1979
“To work the first year with half a salary, no business cards, no phone & no secretary!” these were the conditions that Jean-Claude Biver accepted from AP’s CEO Mr. Georges Golay to start his first job & career at AUDEMARS PIGUET
Mr. Golay wanted Jean-Claude Biver to study for a full year, what watchmaking art means and the watchmaking history, learn who the watchmakers are & their mentality and finally The History of AUDEMARS PIGUET and the Philosophy and the concept of the brand, After that he would go & promote the brand.
In that year JC Biver got close to the watchmakers, got integrated in the business & on his first presentation to a customer he teaches us a very valuable lesson.
For his first business meting JC Biver went to Germany to meet a client with NO watches with him! the client was shocked, how can he be selling watches without having any piece with him. JC Biver explained that before I show you the product, I have to explain who we are, what is our product and our History. If you show an interest, I can start showing you the watches.
This meeting marked the start of an Entrepreneur legend.
OMEGA 1979 – 1981
After his success in AUDEMARS PIGUET, Mr. Biver moved to OMEGA to manage the Sales & Marketing of OMEGA’s Gold watch Collection for three years.
BLANCPAIN 1981 – 1992
“Technology is due to become obsolete & will die some day, However watch making Art is Eternal”
During the Quartz crisis & when the whole world was heading into Quartz movement. Jean-Claude Biver Genius idea was to go the opposite way, as he always say “Technology is due to become obsolete & will die some day, However watch making Art is Eternal”
“Since 1735 there has never been a Quartz Blancpain Watch. And there never will be”
In 1981 he knew that OMEGA owns the oldest watch brand in the world which is Blancpain ( Read our Article on the brand Here ) & bought the Brand name from OMEGA for 22,000 Swiss francs in 1981 & had a great success of launching the mechanical movement Blancpain collection under their famous Slogan in the mid of the quartz crisis“Since 1735 there has never been a Quartz Blancpain Watch. And there never will be”
Mr. Nicolas Hayek, the co-founder & CEO of the Swatch Group, saw that mechanical watches will come back strongly in the market & bought Blancpain for 60 Million Swiss Francs.
Blancpain & Swatch are considered a Huge factor in saving the Watch industry from the Quartz Crisis.
SWATCH Group 1993 – 2003
After selling Blancpain to SWATCH Group due to personal reasons, JC Biver felt that he didn’t want to stop & he wanted to continue working with his Blancpain team & continue develop Blancpain Collection.
That’s when Mr. Nicolas Hayek offered Mr. Biver to continue working in Blancpain & also to develop & restructure OMEGA.
One of Mr. Biver’s greatest marketing success was introducing OMEGA to James Bond.
Partnering with Cindy Crawford as OMEGA Ambassador
Reintroduced the story of the Moon Watch the OMEGA Speedmaster
all these strong marketing activities has resulted in Tripling turnover between 1993 – 1999
Hublot 2004 – 2007
The Founder of Hublot Mr. Carlo Coco was a friend of Mr. Biver as they knew each other from having business during Mr. Biver work in Swatch Group.
Hublot had a peak in 2000 then declined afterward, Mr. Carlo Coco asked JC Biver to help develop Hublot which he accepted.
“Having A watch with different materials like Gold & Rubber is Fusion, I will call it The Art of Fusion”
Mr. Biver thought the watch had a huge potential of fusing & mixing different elements together like Gold and Rubber, so he worked on developing the Hublot Big Bang.
Mr. Biver strategy was to seduce the younger generation & partner with young athletes & sports like Soccer ( which no watch brand has ever partnered with ), Golf and partnered with Ferrari.
Mr. Biver was able to position Hublot on the right track & a massive success was the result, proving that this man is a true visionary & strategic genius.
LVMH 2008 – Present
LVMH Group which owns TAG Heuer & Zenith acquired Hublot in 2008 & Mr. Biver became the head of the Group’s watch division.
Mr. Biver developed Tag Heuer’s identity by brining back the vintage inspired Heuer watches & introduced the Tag Heuer Connected watch, which till today is the highest selling watch in Tag Heuer in terms of quantity
Mr. Biver also helped Zenith to upgrade the legendary El Primero watch to the Defy El Primero.
“You can retire from a job, but you can’t retire from Passion“
In 2018 Mr. Biver has decided to step down as CEO of LVMH watch division but he is still serving in the board of directors & non-excuective chairman. As he always says you can retire from a job but you can’t retire from Passion.
Mr. Biver also has a great hobby for manufacturing special cheese in his farm in summer time because Cows feed on the flowers in the grass in the Alps which provides a unique taste to the milk.
As a watch Lover, I would like to say Thank You Mr. Biver & wish him Health & Happiness