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aBlogtoWatch Readers: Ask Jean-Claude Biver Your Watch Collecting & Industry Questions

aBlogtoWatch Readers: Ask Jean-Claude Biver Your Watch Collecting & Industry Questions ABTW Interviews

Head of the LVMH Watch Division, Mr. Jean-Claude Biver was invited by aBlogtoWatch to answer ten questions about watches or the watch industry as asked by the aBlogtoWatch audience. Here’s your chance to submit a question that our editorial team might pick in the top ten to have Mr. Biver answer. We promise to get a full and complete response to each of the chosen questions – but we clearly can’t ask Mr. Biver to answer everything. If this round of questions is a success, then we can aim to do another.

Jean-Claude Biver has had a life-long career in the Swiss watch industry that includes brands such as Audemars Piguet, Omega, Blancpain, Hublot, and now as the CEO of TAG Heuer (in addition to overseeing TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith as part of the LVMH watches family). Jean-Claude is also an accomplished watch collector whose interests include a passionate focus on Patek Philippe. Many watch enthusiasts find this fact interesting given Jean-Claude Biver’s ushering in of the era-defining Hublot Big Bang and other “ultra-modern” luxury timepieces which intentionally skewed away from established classicism.

As a watch brand leader, Jean-Claude is seen as decisive and much more of a risk-taker as compared to colleagues at neighboring Swiss watch brands. Some speculate that Jean-Claude, not being a native of Switzerland himself, is less restricted by “tradition-bound” conservatism and rule rigidity that native Swiss managers are often accused of overly specializing in. Most of Jean-Claude’s contemporaries would praise Mr. Biver’s marketing tenacity and public speaking skills. Biver has a natural and enthusiastic charisma and takes pleasure guiding audiences as the in-focus storyteller. And a storyteller is what Jean-Claude Biver prefers to be – rarely being seen as putting his own ego ahead of brand or industry interests. If Jean-Claude can be accused of making mistakes, it is only because he can be likewise praised for making attempts.

I’ve written the above as a brief introduction to help the aBlogtoWatch audience formulate interesting questions from the perspective of a watch collector, brand manager, start-up founder, or mere devotee interested in the often direct and insightful responses that Mr. Biver is known for giving liberally. Five days after publication of this article we will review the comments section and choose up to 10 of the submitted questions to Biver. A follow-up article will include those questions and his responses. Thanks to everyone who participated and our apologies in advance if we were not able to choose your question.

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  • Osama Abughanim

    @Jean-Claude Biver I saved up for a Rolex BLNR and when I went buy it from there AD I couldn’t now I am a Rolex hater because they let me down big time do you think they have the right to do this to me I am 52 years old and they deprived me from a dream.

    • Swiss_Cheese

      3 options:

      1. If you have to have it right now, you’ll have to look on the secondary market and pay a premium.

      2. Go on a wait list, I’m sure if you went around to some Rolex ADs you might be able to find one willing to put you on a wait list.

      3. If memory serves correct, the BLNR is the GMT ‘Batman’, if it is, you could buy a plain GMT and have the bezel swapped with a two tone, (wouldn’t help with the blue GMT hand though). Not sure I’d be a fan of customizing a $8k watch but, still an option.

      It sucks, but Rolex are the king of artificial scarcity. I tried to get a rhodium OP last month and encountered the same problem.

    • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

      You sound very childish. Grow up.

    • Joe

      I’m guessing this is meant to be slightly sarcastic.

      It’s tough for those that like Rolex so much, to be at the mercy of their “artificial scarcity”.
      It’s understandably tough, since they make great watches and have a great brand.
      It helps to look outside of the Rolex box so that it you don’t feel so strongly about it.

    • PR

      Eh find a reliable reputable AD and get in line, it’s not that difficult to wait. If you find the concept difficult, find another watch or go used.

      • Joe

        In fairness, some AD’s don’t have a line anymore.
        I’ve been with a friend to look for a BLNR and he was told by the AD that the waiting list is closed (temporarily I guess).
        We tried another AD and got the same response.

    • Gokart Mozart

      Everybody should boycott Rolex for a year, then they will change their attitude.

      I know will not happen but you can always dream

  • Mick Day

    Since you’ve come to head up Tag Heuer, you have given the company much needed direction and removed some of the problems that existed. So, with Tag Heuer hopefully on track to restore it’s deserved place in the Swiss watch industry, would you consider fixing perhaps one of the biggest issues and return Tag Heuer to Heuer. Drop the Tag moniker. If so, when might this happen?

  • Feanor

    Hello, I am an owner of a TAG Heuer Connected 45 and its mechanical module and I am enjoying the combo very much. However I feel that the smartwatch segment is taking a direction that may prove challenging for TAG Heuer;
    First, there is a tendency towards fitness features, because it’s one aspect that a smartwatch can handle better than a smartphone. But TAG Heuer doesn’t provide a heart rate monitor and I cannot imagine many people exercising with their luxury smartwatch.
    Second TAG Heuer uses Intel as a microprocessor provider; but Intel has announced months ago their exit from the wearable market. Also Qualcomm are soon coming up with a new smartwatch chip that is rumoured to bring battery life improvements and (most importantly for TAG probably) improvements to the ”always-on” state of the watchface.
    With all this I am curious if TAG Heuer is committed to the smartwatch segment and if they are contemplating all this.

  • Tõnis Leissoo

    Hello Mr Biver, if you would start a completely new brand today from scratch then who would be the target market (age group, location) and what kind of watches would you make?

  • SuperStrapper

    I would consider your operation, in all of its facets, an industry leader in materials development. This has generally been in the name of aesthetics, and we are seeing the industry at large take on new materials for the purpose of mechanical refinement as well as ultralight, scratch resistant, friction-free, and antimagnetic options are developed and brought forward.
    In your opinion, is this an upward trajectory that will continue or do you sense the industry has approached a plateau in this regard, where many of these more contemporary advancements will be subjected to further developments and refinements to ensure they remain relevant? It would be a shame to see an achievement with a lot of potential become a “remember that?” moment years from now because it had been forgotten about in a hectic period of experimentation and research.
    Also, specifically to Magic Gold; is there further refinement being done on this material? It is very impressive to me, but its colour seems to be its greatest downfall when discussing it in larger circles. So I wonder if moves are being made to offer it in additional tones while retaining its existing properties.

  • PR

    Is the “hublot” look the future of all Swiss watches, Tag got in with the Carrera 01 series and now Zenith defy followed suit, who’s next?

  • Berndt Norten

    Dear Mr Biver,

    Around the Western world, the fortunes of youth (24 years and younger) are in decline. Wages are stagnant, full-time career track jobs are rare, and home ownership rates are declining too. I wonder if your industry has been able to calculate the ownership rates of mechanical watches by age group? Gazing into your crystal ball, what challenges do you foresee and what solutions might there be? Does it matter that most mechanical watch owners are likely over the age of 40? Or, thanks to a world population of 7 billion can the industry thrive regardless of the demographic profile of the typical watch owner? Thank you.

  • Gokart Mozart

    This is a good opportunity to ask a question to one of the most important people in the industry. Thank you ABTW

    Many people do not like him but he has probably done more for the Swiss watch industry than anyone since Swatch was created.

    Now I just need to think of a couple of serious questions to ask him

  • What’s the future look like for the Autavia line? Do you plan on ‘crowdsourcing’, so to speak, any future designs as you did for the previous offering? And along those lines, any chance of re-introducing an updated Aquagraph, arguably the best diving chronograph ever produced?

  • German Andrade

    Does Mr. Biver have a ‘holy grail’ watch or a watch he has had his eye on for a long time but has not been able to acquire? Or perhaps he has imagined a watch but so far such a thing has never been manufactured.

  • Steve Loader

    In a recent article I read that Mr Biver commented that there are a lot of ‘boring’ watches being made today.

    As many of his key creations have been large (or ‘oversized’ when compared to more traditional dimensions), does he equate ‘boring’ with more traditional sizes of 40mm or less, or will we start to see exciting creations from him that are more suitable for everyday wear?

    Many thanks,
    Steve Loader.

  • JacobC

    Dear JCB: You have done so much in your career. What do you want to be remembered for?

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Smart watches?…………..Your comments
    Swiss knives or American knives?……………Your comments.

  • George Yang

    Thanks for offering up this opportunity!

    Here’s my question: As the head of watches for LVMH, what innovation (technical or business marketing) does he wish he had proprietary access to (for example, Omega and its exclusive contract with Liquid Metal or Audemars Piguet and being privately held and not beholden to share holders or Rolex and its non-profit charity status)?

  • Bert Kanne

    Who typically approves a new watch design when so many fail on the market?

  • Mikita

    What is your opinion on such novel material as quantum dots? The technology is far from being mature, but has huge potential IMO. I believe, in future it’ll be possible to excite quantum dots by sunlight to get strong emission of particular color; stronger the sunlight – stronger the emission.

  • Sylvio Bertoli

    Dear Mr Biver, I have nothing to ask because when I had a few questions and sugestions, I sent to you an email and you answered them so nicely that it made me a fan of yours for life. This is the type of action that shows what kind stuff legends like yourself are made of.

    • Mikita

      Irony or not? Couldn’t catch

  • Mitko Dimitrov

    ABTW, thank you very much for this opportunity!
    Here is my question to Mr. Biver: What do you think will be the aspects of our life, which will affect the watch industry in the future and in what way? It could be social, technical, digital, new materials, cultural, behavioral, personal, fashion, financial, economical, etc. trends.
    Thank you again!

  • JosephWelke

    Mr. Biver, the crowd-voted Autavia was one of the niftiest events the Swiss watch world has done, ever. The winner was placed into a 42mm case; a bit large for me. With smaller case diameters returning to being in vogue, might there be chance to see a crowd-voted Autavia GMT in a 40mm case?

  • Gyuri Rigó

    Since the sinergy between TAG-Zenith-Hublot is reaching the highest level, dont you think this would be a good time to aquire universal geneve and return its former glory focusing on the compaxes?

    • Gokart Mozart

      Maybe buy Glycine and Vulcain as well, but keep them to their historical values.

  • BobHoover Tiangco

    Your experience in the watch industry is unequalled, and may likely stay that way for decades to come. In your view, which has been the most rewarding challenge you have faced during your time as a brand and marketing executive for these brands, and why?

  • BobHoover Tiangco

    The man is very passionate about watches, indeed

  • LetoAtreides69

    What brand are you most proud of (in regards to current lineup), and what is your favourite watch at this time?

  • Spangles

    Mr. Biver,
    Is there a future for traditional watchmaking (hand-finishing of mechanical movements, etc.), and if so what are you doing to see to its preservation?
    Yours,
    Spangles J Cat

  • Gokart Mozart

    Mr Biver

    Do you think the move by many brands to become a manufacture is a distraction to the problems the watch industry is facing. The trend of buying up dial makers etc or investing in new machinery, that forces the price up of simple watches to a point where it is difficult to attract new people to horology.

    Compared to the past when the great and the good used movements, casemakers and bracelet makers to make the best possible watches, or watches that they would otherwise not be able to produce..

    Perhaps that is part of the sucess of companies like Bamford and the new microbrands.

  • Gokart Mozart

    https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/why-jean-claude-biver-is-ahead-of-his-time

    Here is an interesting article on Mr JCB. A good read. May inspire some questions

    • Timestandsstill

      Good reference!

  • Gokart Mozart

    Dear Mr Biver,

    You have worked with or known some of the most important people in horology over the last century. Who would you say are the best watchmakers over your period in the industry and is there any body in particular you think did not get the appreciation they deserve.

    Leading on do you think that the watchmakers and movement designers up to the the 1980’s were more talented than now because they did not have the same access to production technology and computers?

  • Gokart Mozart

    Dear Mr Biver,

    As part of your recent work you have been bringing down the cost of watches with complicated complications down, and others have also done so, eg the Tag tourbillon ant Montblanc and Frederique Constant perpetual calenders or Habring2 with the split second chronograph.

    Do you think this trend will continue with low cost high complication pieces that are machine finished becoming more common and the hand finished traditional high complications moving further up market?

  • IG

    Dear Mr. Biver,

    Do you plan to use watch cases made from cheese?

    Regards

  • Dear Mr. Biver, if you had not gotten into the watch industry, where else do you think your professional life might been? And if you say cheese, I know you would have commercially successful at it (as I do like your cheese sir).

  • SuperStrapper

    I am learning today of yesterday’s news, that Mr. Biver is stepping down from active duty at LVMH to recuperate from a health concern. I sincerely wish his full and expedient recovery, the watch world will certainly be much smaller in your absence.
    Accurate or not I am unaware but I saw in one article that in his announcement he is quoted as “…I’ll no longer be cutting the onions and crying in the kitchen every morning, I’ll just come by layer on to see if they’re cooked.” Classic.

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