This exclusive interview with Jean-Claude Biver of Hublot was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in Nyon, Switzerland during January/February 2011
You've been very successful so far in your career, tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose to join the watch making world.
I joined in 1975 the watch making world in order to work in my adults passion: the watch. My adults passion was nothing more than the continuation of my boy's toy: the steam machine. I believed in 1975 that if I would work in watches, I would be constantly in touch with my passion and would never get the impression of working. This believe in 1975 proved to be true and since 1975 I seldom had the impression that I was working.
Please explain the concept of the Art of Fusion for our readers.
Fusion means for us connecting the Tradition with the Future. We use our 400 years of tradition not in order to repeat what has all been done in the past, but we use these 400 years in order to connect them to the Future (to the 21st Century for the time being). In a certain way we are doing what Les Paul and Gibson have done when they took a spanish guitar and suddenly connected this guitar to the future. As a result they invented electronic guitar, which is somehow still a guitar but delivers totally new sounds. Which has opened a new area to music and given birth to modern music.
You have distinguished Hublot as an innovative brand of luxury Swiss watches closely allying with the international sports community. How does character play into your management style?
We are constantly trying to connect Hublot to its customers (which for us is not only the actual customer who can buy the watch, but much more we target the customer of tomorrow who can still not afford to buy our watch today). So wherever our customers are, we follow them. We want to give them the conviction and impression that we belong to their world, that we use the same materials as they use in their daily life or in their passion (ceramic brakes, carbon bike, ultra light phones, and so on) and finally that we are connecting them to their future.
While we are on management style, it seems that people today are using the international bad economic situation as an excuse for not taking personal responsibility for their actions, as a chief executive how do you address this?
The more the economy is bad or the more your company is in trouble, the more you must take position and show your determination and your personality.
When everything is smooth, you could eventually afford for a little time to stay behind, but clearly I am awaiting for a CEO to be strongly present and to show creativity, innovation and leadership.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would consider myself as a leader who shares, who respects and who is capable of forgiving. I love my team and my team is my future.
How do you work to move forward and develop Hublot through these economic times?
We follow our concept: 1. always try to be the first or/and 2. try to be unique or/and 3. try to be different. This concept obliges us to constantly innovate, to be creative, to constantly explore new roads and to constantly connect to the future. During economic hard times, I believe that the only exit is named: creativity and innovation.
You obviously have a passion for fine watches, what are your other interests you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy above all my family. I would love to become very soon a real patriarch and leave one day a strong and deep trace of love. Among other passions beside my family I love my farm, my cows, my cheese, my wine and my 1963 Mercedes Roadster 300SL. I love cycling, skiing and sailing.
Which is your favorite watch of all time and why?
The Bigger Bang All Black. Why: it has the look of a steam machine. It incorporates traditional watch making (tourbillon chronograph) and modernity (ceramic all black case).
And above all it is a watch I can wear at any occasion (diving, skiing, golfing, at work, and even with an evening dress).
The above interview with Jean-Claude Biver 2011 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.