Using the slogan “Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain, and there never will be”, he quickly revived the company and increased the turnover to 50 million Swiss francs. Within a few years, the brand was competing with the biggest names in watchmaking. However, in 1992 he decided to sell Blancpain to the SMH Group (later to become the Swatch Group) and joined Nicolas G. Hayek’s management team. As a member of the Swatch Group’s Management Committee, he was given the task of developing the marketing and products for the Omega brand, a company he had left ten years earlier. The Omega revival was impressive, focusing in particular on the development of new products and the recruitment of famous names such as Cindy Crawford, Michael Schumacher, James Bond – alias 007 – and Pierce Brosnan.
At the end of 2003, he decided to take a year’s sabbatical but, ever the man of action, he quickly changed his mind in order to take over the leadership of a small business founded in 1980: Hublot Geneva. In 2004, as CEO he decided to focus on Hublot’s original product and develop a new concept for the brand: “The Art of Fusion”.
In fact, in 1980, Hublot was the first watchmaker to create a watch which fused different materials, by combining gold and rubber. By dedicating all of his expertise and marketing talent to the brand, in April 2005 – within a year – he had achieved the tour de force of launching a revolutionary chronograph: the Big Bang.
Unveiled at BaselWorld 2005, it was an immediate success. The awards came thick and fast. Hublot was injected with an extraordinary dynamism, guaranteeing exceptional growth. Jean-Claude Biver was truly responsible for the rebirth of this brand, and perhaps even for its birth, if we consider today, in 2012, the path it has travelled in just seven years.
The company owes its impressive growth to the boundless energy of its unique owner: firstly, the company’s economic growth, with turnover increasing in 4 years from 25 million to more than 200 million Swiss francs in 2008, when the brand was sold to LVMH.
Anchored in the present and always evolving, at the forefront of new advances in technology and fundamental research into new materials, Hublot remains committed to traditional expertise, creating timepieces which bear the mark of the most talented master watchmakers. In this way, the brand represents the Art of Fusion between watchmaking culture and cutting-edge technical developments, between the past and the future as, in the words of Hublot’s Chairman Jean-Claude Biver, “we are not breaking with the past, on the contrary we are paying homage to it by connecting it to the future”.
Mr Biver has been appointed President of the Watches Division, LVMH Group in January, 2014, and overviews TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith companies.
Interviewed by Alberic Virchaux