There are some individuals whose presence and influence transcend the rivalries and divisions in an industry, and whose name is universally respected across the sector.
And so it is with Jean-Claude Biver, one of the most charismatic, visionary and recognisable characters in the luxury (and now connected) watch industry, who has overseen years of continued growth and development for his LVMH charges which include TAG Heuer, Bulgari and his beloved Hublot, it is with sadness that the day of the announcement of his stepping back from the day to day operational duties has come. He is not about to disappear, but having had to cope with significant health issues over the past year, it's very likely the beginning of the end of an era, and the entire industry probably owes him a debt of gratitude in one way or another.
Over a spectacular career, which included the revival of the Blancpain marque, with a seemingly supercharged energy he has almost single handedly nurtured a culture of progressive, innovative development into popular watchmaking, though technical advances in horology and using cutting edge materials.
Biver’s influence has touched virtually every aspect of the watch industry as we know it today; from the astonishing changes at Hublot when it was frozen in a time capsule when he took over, to the global super-high profile brand of the stars that it is today, to affordable haute horlogerie at TAG Heuer and most recently his push behind TAG’s smart technology, he has been a one man tour de force, and although in the world of business and entrepreneurialism you can’t be loved by everyone, I don’t think that anywhere, considering it is tinged with sadness, this news will please anyone. Even icons don't go on forever.
They say that no one is irreplaceable, but surely there are rare exceptions to that caveat, and the shoes of Jean-Claude Biver will most definitely be tricky ones to fill.