When the majestic Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot, talks luxury, everyone listens. He shares his personal convictions and beliefs on the subject of luxury with us
Hublot is the official watch of Formula One, not because CEO Jean-Claude Biver is interested in motor racing, though he does admit to liking the cars, the noise and the smell of oil – “I’m like any man who wants to transform the toy cars he once had into a sports car, a helicopter” – but because there is a synergy between the two.
“Most people who like cars like watches,” says Biver, who was in Hong Kong late last year to present the latest Hublot F1 watch, the Monza. “I’m only interested in [doing what’s best for] Hublot, that’s it, I won’t steer the company in a direction which doesn’t suit it for personal reasons. You see, I never brought Blancpain to F1; it wasn’t the right fit.” Hublot and top-end motor sport share the same customer base, high technology, search for new ultra-light materials and a certain racy glamour so “to enter this world was logical”.
Biver, known for his straight talking and infectious passion for life, was born in Luxembourg but was drawn to the Joux Valley, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking, after university. A distinguished 35-year career in the watch industry began at Audemars Piguet and then Omega. In 1981 he and his friend Jacques Piguet bought Blancpain. Selling it to the Swatch Group in 1992, he remained as managing director for a further decade. Biver had decided to take a well-deserved rest from the business in the mid 2000s when he met Carl Crocco, Hublot’s revered creator, and was offered the plum job of making a brand known for one iconic gold and rubber watch into a modern manufacture that could compete with the best of the historic Swiss names.
The launch of the Big Bang chronograph in 2005 proved that Hublot under Biver could take pole position but he sees a long road ahead for the brand, with plenty of daily challenges to overcome and drive him forward. “Hublot is still a child, like eight years old already. He’s in school. He can read, write and count, that’s it. He’s got a long way to go before he can be a doctor.” God willing, the inspirational Biver will be there to celebrate Hublot’s graduation.
What to your mind represents the ultimate luxury? Why?
The number one luxury is health because if you are one second without health, well, you are dead. The second luxury is love, to love and be loved; if there is no love in your heart you are indeed poor. The third luxury is to have that passion for your job that gives the impression you aren’t actually working and makes every day short. If you don’t have this passion, your day will be very long. These are the three elements of luxury and if you have them all you are at the summit of luxury!
If you are at the summit and you want sunshine and blue skies all the time then there is another luxury – to be so successful in your work or at an activity that you leave traces when you are gone. This way you live much longer.
Can any true luxury item or experience ever become a necessity and is that even desirable?
A luxury should never become a necessity because then you are arrogant and are asking too much. God will punish you by taking it away. Always think about tomorrow. Of course enjoy the luxuries in your life, your position and status, but be prepared to reduce your expectations tomorrow. In other words, keep your feet on the ground.
A luxury item/experience is best kept to oneself or shared with others?
Sharing makes you rich; those who don’t share are very poor in heart and spirit. Sharing is the first commandment of the religion of planet Earth. Human beings share from the beginning – their mother’s womb, their mother’s milk and later the family food. You cannot survive from day one without sharing.
Please name five luxury items or experiences that are important to you, and why.
- 1. Time is a fantastic luxury in this day and age. Having time for others and your family is rare and precious.
- 2. Health. The health of my five kids; the health of my wife; and my own health.
- 3. To love and be loved.
- 4. To have a social role, a position that allows you to contribute. Those who lose their jobs feel empty and disorientated.
- 5. The freedom to make your own decisions and to move around at will.
If I could have two more, it would be to keep my passion – having passion is being connected to God and being full of love – and to live a long life. But sometimes you cannot ask for that.