Watches

Jean-Claude Biver Talks Soul, Technology, and Defining a Watch Brand

WatchesOct 06, 2021

Jean-Claude Biver Talks Soul, Technology, and Defining a Watch Brand

The watchmaking legend was the most recent guest on “The Accutron Show” podcast.

20211006_JeanClaudeBiver.jpg
Jean-Claude Biver was the most recent guest on “The Accutron Show” podcast.
New York—Podcast “The Accutron Show” debuted a little over a year ago, facilitating conversations with cultural tastemakers.
 
Hosted by entertainment reporter Bill McCuddy of Fox News, journalist David Graver of Cool Hunting and The New York Times, and editor Scott Alexander of GQ and Playboy, The Accutron Show debuts new episodes the first Tuesday of each month. 
 
Embodying the tagline “It’s not a timepiece. It’s a conversation piece,” the podcast has featured conversations with chef Daniel Boulud, tattoo and multidisciplinary artist Bruno Levy, and fashion designer Timo Weiland, who are outside the world of watchmaking.
 
This week, however, The Accutron Show did a deep dive into watches with legendary industry mastermind Jean-Claude Biver. 
 
In the episode that debuted Oct. 5, called “Crafting the Soul of Watches With Jean-Claude Biver,” the hosts explored Biver’s personal philosophy and approach to watchmaking. 
 
Biver’s experience with watches began at the age of 8 when he wore an Omega Constellation, a gift from his grandfather, for church and religious occasions. Other than that, it lived in the family’s safe.
 
When Biver was 18, the watch became his to keep. But he lost the prized possession skiing, which solidified for him the idea that a watch isn’t simply a device for telling time, but “a piece of emotion, a piece of art, a piece of beauty, a piece of love, a piece of culture, a piece of tradition, a piece of status,” he said on the podcast. 
 
Through the years, Biver aimed to “put soul” into watchmaking, something he noted is associated with the handcrafted nature of a mechanical watch, the energy and expertise each watchmaker brings to their craft.  
 
 Related stories will be right here … 
 
“We are fed up with rationality,” he said of a watch’s sentimental resonance over its functionality. “We want dreams, we want emotions.” 
 
That doesn’t mean Biver hates high-tech devices designed to be practical, like the Apple Watch. 
 
On the contrary, he admires its technology, and said it too can “have soul” if there is a sentimental attachment to it, like if it’s a gift from a loved one, for example.
 
He also was never against quartz watches, he said on the podcast. “I’m very open minded. Every technology is welcome and should be respected.”
 
Quartz, however, “has nothing to do with art,” Biver said, or “mastery [of]… the watchmaking art,” but rather with technology. 
 
The problem with any technology, is that it will eventually become obsolete, but a mechanical watch made by hand will never be obsolete, he said. 
 
It is art and “art is connected to eternity,” Biver said, noting that artists like Mozart, The Beatles, and Pablo Picasso endure, becoming even more popular with time. 
 
Asked about reissuing watches of the past, Biver made an important distinction. 
 
“You cannot repeat the past. You can preserve the past. You need tradition and innovation. If you just copy, where is the innovation?”
 
For all the companies he headed throughout his career, from Omega to Hublot, he has stuck to the philosophy of leaning on a mix of tradition and innovation to form new models. 
 
For the brands he headed, as well as any new brand today, Biver advised that all must be clear on their mission.
 
“What is the reason the brand exists?” he asked. “What is the message? One extraordinary example is Hublot.” 
 
Biver joined that company in 2004. The brand’s heads at the time couldn’t identify a particular message or mission, other than crafting beautiful Swiss timepieces by hand. 
 
The message Biver honed in on was: “Hublot is the fusion between future and tradition.” 
 
In the 1980s Hublot had created a gold watch with rubber bracelet, a mix of high and low that was very innovative at that time. He realized Hublot’s genius was its ability to fuse disparate elements and emphasized this message. 
 
Among the many gems The Accutron Show’s hosts uncovered was that Biver is so dedicated to respecting watch customers that during his time heading Hublot, he was the recipient of the info@hublot.com queries. 
 
He would personally respond to them, taking at least an hour each day. He said it allowed him to receive valuable feedback. 
 
Biver even had the unorthodox practice of taking employees to the local cemetery to commune with people who had worked for the watch brand and were likely buried in the same village where Hublot has been headquartered for over 100 years. 
 
“We might get a message from these people,” Biver said. “We will get a feeling … All of these people have given us so many hours of passion. That leaves a trace. It’s like love. Love leaves a trace. Love never disappears.” 
 
Other podcast highlights included getting James Bond to switch from Rolex to Omega, the most “soulful” things to collect other than watches, the connection between watchmaking and farming, Biver’s biggest failure, and why the current craze for vintage watches isn’t a bubble. 
 
Accutron’s podcast is available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and YouTube, among other platforms.
 
Now in its second season, the show has reached No. 42 in Apple Podcast’s “Society & Culture” category. 

The Latest

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Macy’s Ends Buyout Talks

The retailer will not be making a deal with Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital Management, opting to focus on its turnaround plan.

Crime police cars
CrimeJul 16, 2024
Thieves Nab $500K in Jewelry in Calif. Group Smash-and-Grab

The Berkeley robbery follows two other Bay Area robberies involving multiple suspects, one in May and one in June.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
ColumnistsJul 16, 2024
The PR Adviser: Awareness Starts With Your Online Store

Lilian Raji discusses the importance of having an intentional website design that aligns with your brand or store’s goals.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Catbird The Met collection
CollectionsJul 16, 2024
Catbird Debuts New Met Collection

It’s the second collaborative offering from the jewelry brand and the New York City art museum.

Weekly QuizJul 11, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
Craftsman holding Pomellato Arengario necklace
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Pomellato Acquires Valenza Setting Lab

The Kering-owned brand bought VSL to reinforce its manufacturing capabilities.

Ewa Abrams, Kering’s new president for the Americas
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Kering Appoints New President for Americas Region

The luxury conglomerate promoted General Counsel Ewa Abrams to the role, succeeding Laurent Claquin.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Tanzanite ring
MajorsJul 15, 2024
Signet Falls 11 Spots on NRF’s ‘Top 100’ Retailers List

The jewelry giant came in at No. 67 on the list, down from No. 56 last year.

 2025 Gem Awards logo
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Nominations Are Open for the 2025 Gem Awards

Submissions in the categories of Jewelry Design, Media Excellence, and Retail Excellence will be accepted through Aug. 23.

Sunlit’s Sun Goddess Supreme Ring and Pyramid Rutilated Quartz Necklace
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
NY Now Expands Emerging Designer Segment for Its Summer Market

Curated at Luxury Lifestyle will build on the former initiative, the Emerging Fine Jewelry Designer Incubator.

Collage of Caitlin Albritton and her jewelry
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Halstead Announces 2024 Grant Winner

Caitlin Albritton won the 19th annual Halstead Grant for emerging jewelry businesses.

Myne London
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Myne London to Support Malala Fund

The emerald supplier will donate a percentage of sales from its “Star Power” earrings to the nonprofit in support of girls’ education.

The Jewelry Symposium logo
Events & AwardsJul 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Is Looking for Speakers

TJS is seeking jewelry manufacturing and technology experts to speak at its 2025 event.

Sculptural Freeform Earrings
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Marrow Fine’s ‘Sculptural Freeform’ Earrings

The earrings were inspired by the landscape at Joshua Tree and Jean Arp’s abstract sculptures.

Madeline Fraser Gemist
EditorsJul 11, 2024
Q&A: Gemist CEO Madeline Fraser on Jewelry Visualization Technology

Fraser shares why she decided to shift from a direct-to-consumer retailer to a B2B technology company.

Jewelers of America learning workshop Providence logo
Events & AwardsJul 11, 2024
JA to Host Next Learning Workshop in Providence

The one-day workshop will be held July 17 at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Jewelers International Showcase Logo Statue
Events & AwardsJul 11, 2024
Registration Now Open for JIS Fall 2024

The jewelry trade show will take place in Miami Oct. 6-9.

Kyle Kuzma, D’Angelo Russell, Jalen Green, Jaime Jacquez Jr., Kevin Love, Josh Hart, and Seth Curry
MajorsJul 11, 2024
David Yurman Names 7 NBA Players as Brand Ambassadors

The partnership reinforces David Yurman’s position as a leader in men’s jewelry, said the company.

U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection Paperwork
CrimeJul 10, 2024
US Customs Seizes $10M in Counterfeit Jewelry

Officers intercepted three packages within 24 hours containing fake goods claiming to be from various luxury brands.

Matturi Fine Jewelry totem jewel
Events & AwardsJul 10, 2024
IAC’s Gold and Diamond Conference to Focus on ‘Expanding Horizons’

The 14th annual conference will host panels on cross-sector collaboration, industry sanctions, and more.

Immediate Connections
Events & AwardsJul 10, 2024
Women’s Art Center of the Hamptons to Host Jewelry Exhibition

“Immediate Connections” will be on view from July 18-21.

Navneet Gems salt & pepper sapphires
SourcingJul 10, 2024
Navneet Gems Launches Salt-and-Pepper Sapphires

Sourced from Tanzania, the stones feature a unique hematite inclusion.

Buccellati butterfly brooch
TrendsJul 10, 2024
Amanda’s Style File: Slither and Fly

Snakes, birds, and bugs are all the buzz this summer.

Peter Smith
ColumnistsJul 09, 2024
11 and ½ Thoughts on Leadership

From prioritizing “big rocks” to practicing transparency, Peter Smith explores what it takes to be an effective leader.

John Hardy bracelet and Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle rosé
CollectionsJul 09, 2024
John Hardy Toasts to Wölffer Estate With New Collection

The capsule collection is inspired by the Hamptons vineyard’s Summer in a Bottle rosé.

Fuli Gemstones peridot The Curious Gem
SourcingJul 09, 2024
The Curious Gem Now Carrying Fuli Peridot

The U.K.-based online supplier will offer calibrated stones under 1 carat.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy