Former Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver is launching his own watch brand

Jean-Claude Biver

The legendary 73-year-old watchmaker is plotting a return to the industry with an eponymous line of watches called JC Biver

Jean-Claude Biver is back. The legendary 73-year-old watchmaker, who retired in 2018 after a stint as the CEO of Tag Heuer and as president of LVMH’s entire watch division, recently told Switzerland’s RTS news channel that he is plotting a return to the industry with an eponymous line of watches called JC Biver. In fact, he said he visited a potential headquarters for the company as recently as last week.

“My name is valuable, credible and well-known,” Biver told the outlet. “That may appear pretentious, but it’s the fruit of 50 years in horology.” Indeed, over his high-profile career, Biver has developed a reputation as a rainmaker, transforming staid watch brands by revamping them to appeal to a more youthful clientele.

Despite his age, he still sees the value in a youth-driven business. He plans to hire a team that has a “median age of 30 to 35-years-old” and is eyeing deals with horological schools to recruit watchmakers early on in their careers. There is no word yet on when he’ll debut his first watches, but Biver said it will be a “small family brand” that is “very passionate and exclusive.” Ultimately, the big idea, for him, is transmitting knowledge to a younger generation of watchmakers.

Biver made his name taking big brands to even higher heights, so it will be interesting to see what he can do with a smaller, independent-style venture. In a 2018 interview with Robb Report, Biver noted that watch buyers clamoring en masse for the same big brands (i.e. Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet) is actually “an asset for small brands because it opens holes the big groups cannot fill.” He added that this is why “people are looking for F.P. Journe or Max Büsser [of MB&F] or Rexhep [Rexhepi of Akrivia].”

Biver said he only made the decision to start the new venture last Monday. It comes in the wake of a bike accident in October that landed him in the hospital until just after Christmas. Now that he’s back in good form, Biver said he is ready to make a return to horology. “You can retire a role, but not a passion,” he said. And there is probably nothing quite like recovering from a serious accident to remind one that there is still plenty of life to live.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA