One of the watch industry’s biggest personalities (and one of its most influential and powerful) is stepping down. Jean-Claude Biver, whose career spans more than 40 years in watchmaking, is relinquishing his operational duties as President of the LVMH Watch Division, due to health reasons.
“I’m giving up my operational responsibilities but I remain as non-executive chairman of the division and its three brands Zenith, Hublot and TAG Heuer,” he told Challenges magazine. Biver’s change in role will mean that rather than a complete retirement from the industry that he has helped to shape for more than four decades, he will act in an advisory manner, retaining close ties with LVMH.
Biver at Baselworld earlier this year.
“After 45 years in the watch industry, I would like to focus more specifically on advising and sharing my experience. I am grateful to the LVMH Group for according me this honour. Thank you to all those who have shared my passion and many successes, without whom I could never have achieved so much.”
In typically Biver style, he added: “I’ll no longer be cutting the onions and crying in the kitchen early in the morning, I’ll just come later to see if they are ready.”
Jean-Claude Biver with Chris Hemsworth at the TAG Heuer Culinary Challenge. In addition to watchmaking, Biver makes around five tonnes of cheese at his Swiss farm in the Alps.
The emblematic head of the watchmaking division of LVMH since 2014, Biver was the architect of the success of Hublot, Tag Heuer and Zenith. Under his visionary steer, he modernised each brand, making it relevant and desirable for a new generation of consumers. He was also behind the resurgence of Blancpain at Swatch Group; his talent for turning around a watch brand’s fortunes with a seeming Midas touch has made him one of the most respected watch leaders in the industry. Despite his long career working on mechanical watches, Biver has always embraced change and spearheaded the introduction of smart watches very succesfully at TAG Heuer.
His successes were acknowledged by Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH, who said in a press statement: “I would like to applaud Jean-Claude Biver for the decisive leadership that he has shown in his role at the head of the watchmaking division. Since the integration of Hublot within LVMH, he has elevated our watchmaking division to a world class technical level of the highest order and has significantly accelerated its commercial growth. I am delighted that the Group will continue to benefit from Jean-Claude’s advice, and I am sure that his entrepreneurial spirit will bring many innovative new ideas to the world of watchmaking.”
With Biver’s departure, two new appointments at LVMH have been announced. Taking over from Biver, Stephane Bianchi has been appointed CEO of the Watchmaking Division, with effect from 1st November 2018. He will lead TAG Heuer, with the CEOs of Hublot and Zenith reporting to him.
Meanwhile. Frederic Arnault, 23, one of Mr Arnault’s sons, has been appointed Strategy and Digital Director of TAG Heuer.
Frederic Arnault and Bernard Arnault at the LVMH Start-Up Accelerator opening ceremony in April 2018 in Paris.
Said Bernard Arnault: “The reorganisation will allow us to continue to grow our watchmaking division with two objectives: delivering products of the highest technical quality, and continuing to grow our brands around the world. I am particularly pleased that Stephane Bianchi will lead this division. I am sure that he will continue the successful development of our watchmaking division, whilst respecting the values that Jean-Claude Biver has instilled within it”.
Bianchi, 53, is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. A former consultant at Arthur Andersen, he spent most of his career with the Yves Rocher Group. He was CEO from 1998 to 2015, delivering strong growth and diversification of the Group. Specifically, he directly led the Yves Rocher and Petit Bateau brands. Most recently, he joined the board of another family business, the Maus Group, which holds Lacoste and Gant as part of its portfolio.