Jean-Claude Biver’s precise ability — the thing that sets him apart from every other human being on the planet; the power that would distinguish him as an X-Man, a super-mutant intent on safeguarding the galaxy — is that he is able to reach into the collective consciousness and extract the pure essential common desire of all humanity before it is even aware of itself.

Amid the dire onslaught of the Quartz Crisis, when electronic watches threatened to decimate the entire luxury Swiss watch industry, when movements were being sold by the kilogram, and when brands were discarding the tools for their most iconic complications, Biver did the unthinkable. He re-launched Blancpain with the explicit, almost profane declaration of war against quartz watches. His motto was, “Since 1735, there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.”

He explains, “I knew that there were consumers out there who were sensitive enough to understand that a mechanical watch is eternal but a quartz watch is destined to be obsolete. So, the simple question I was asking consumers was, what is it you want to buy — something that is eternal, or something that will die?” The collectors, swayed by Biver’s incredible argument in the favor of mechanical watchmaking, followed in droves, and Blancpain was hailed as one of the key proponents in the renaissance of mechanical watchmaking. Naturally, Biver became heralded as the messiah of the Swiss watch industry.

Amazingly, as fate would have it, some 30-odd years later, Biver was faced with a similar dilemma surrounding the smartwatch he was launching at TAG Heuer, which has since become a colossal success and the best-selling single reference in TAG Heuer history. He explains, “The Connected watch was incredibly important to connect the values of TAG Heuer with the next generation of consumers. However, I was concerned that, in a few years, the technology in the watch would become obsolete. So, the idea I had was that the watch would be modular and you could remove the electronics and replace it with a mechanical watch movement. And during that time, the owner of that watch would probably have matured to a point where he would want a mechanical TAG Heuer on his wrist. This was a genius idea.” And Biver was right, because in so doing, he used his Connected watch as a bridge to the next generation of luxury mechanical watch ownership.

However, in recent history, Biver is associated most with one of the single greatest acts in watchmaking history — the revival of Hublot. Starting with the basic concept of a luxury watch that merged precious metal with rubber, Biver has created the cult of fusion, using the timepiece as the lightning rod for contemporary design. He has also revolutionized the way watchcases are made by creating a highly modular casing system for Hublot’s signature Big Bang that would allow it to be recreated in a seemingly infinite number of variations. Finally, he would take his watch and make it the most deeply entrenched luxury timepiece in contemporary culture. The Big Bang and Hublot could be found at the World Cup, at Coachella, at any destination or event popular with the high-flying jet-set crowd and, as such, became its emblem. Says Biver, “This was just logical. In my brand you have a king and a queen. The king is the customer. The queen is the product. My job is to make them fall in love. So, do I bring the queen everywhere my king goes? Of course I do.”

To be fair, we could have awarded Jean-Claude Biver three lifetime achievement awards, such has been his contributions to the Swiss watchmaking industry. However, I hope he will allow us the honor of awarding him our 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award to applaud everything he has achieved for his brands, for his industry and for us.

Editor’s Note
It’s been our utmost pleasure to have been able to speak with Mr. Biver on several occasions this year and capture these conversations on video. Relive these moments with us here:

1) Jean-Claude Biver on Record (3 part interview)
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

2) Connected to the Future

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