Interwiewing Jean-Claude Biver: Zenith, Land Rover and the bulldogs

18 October 2016


Watch-her has had the privilege of interviewing Jean-Claude Biver in Paris, President of the LVMH Watch Division and emblematic figure of the watchmaking world who’s success sees no end. An avid entrepreneur, talented showman, a man who advocates universal love but loses no credibility as a businessman. And ‘Daddy’ to a french bulldog as a bonus, to win over my passionate heart and inspire my entrepreneurial soul.

Jean Claude Biver signs a partnership between Zenith and Land Rover

It’s in Paris, the day prior to the press launch of the Mondial de l’Automobile, that Zenith welcomed the international press to announce their new partnership as well as showcase a new model from the El Primero range.

The Le Locle manufacture didn’t choose Land Rover randomly, the alliance with the brand is a perfect match and unifies two legends, a watch and a car created in 1969 which have both subsisted the ravages of time to gain their iconic status. Why Land Rover and not Porsche ? Despite the sporty pedigree of the brand, Zenith is an iconic brand that is interested in everything, and as Mr Biver explained so well, if Queen Elizabeth can drive a Range Rover as well as Pipa or Kate then it is a universal product that can please everyone, it is with this in mind that he wants to position the El Primero; a legend may be suitable for lovers of style and quality.

In a second article to be released over the next couple of days, we will introduce you to the El Primero Range Rover Special Edition watch designed for the occasion as well as an interview with Gerry McGovern, creative director of Land Rover.

PS : Dear Mr Biver, We look forward to a wrist shot of Queen Elizabeth with her El Primero Range Rover behind the wheel of her Range Rover.



WH: I am a young Native American woman living remotely in the Amazon rainforest without contact to the modern world, and we must present ourselves. Who are you, Mr Biver?

JCB: I am a passionate in general but especially passionate about watches and I’ve turned my passion into my job. I am so privileged to be working my passion.

WH: The Ranger Rover and the Zenith El Primero were both born in 1969. Nearly 50 years later, they have both become icons, each in their own right. How do you make an icon?

JCB: An icon is created by the quality, competence and then by immobilism. If a product changes every year, we can almost say that it’s a fashionable item and it will never become an icon. The Range Rover has become and icon because, other than a few face lifts, aesthetic changes and minor alterations linked to technological progress, it stayed the same car and the same applies to the Zenith El Primero. If Hermes had changed bag after the Kelly, the Kelly would not be what it is today. To create an icon it must there must be immobilism and courage not to make any changes.

WH: We are a blog specialised in women’s watches. The watch industry has long been recognised for its small macho tendency. How do you intend to address yourself to this part of your clientele in the future?

JCB: The macho in watchmaking is perfect for the woman since she is the equal of man. And being the equal of man, I don’t see why we should make specific models for women, which are smaller and cuter. It does not suit the modern woman. The modern woman can wear  Tods like a man, jeans, drive a convertible Porsche like a man. That’s the real modern, dynamic, liberated and free woman. And for this reason, we turn to women as we do men, and this little macho side doesn’t bother me personally, quite the contrary. I find it rather attractive that a woman can take ownership of  such macho elements. As I find attractive once in a while a man that can have a bit of femininity. Because in every man there is a feminine side that it is not to hide but to exploit. Same for the woman. Balance is wealth, and wealth is designed by contrary components. Opposites develops a tension necessary for evolution.

WH: It is to this non gender spirit found at Hublot with the Big Bang and Tag with the Carrera you’ll evolve?

JCB: Exactly, we want unisex watches that appeal to both men and women. We consider that women may prefer a smaller diameter, different colors or finishes, and we will propose variations of these models.At the end of the day they are the same objects and I would like to delete the term “Women’s Watches” and “men’s Watches”. Some appeal more to men, others  to women, but first we do watches.

WH : Hublot and TAG Heuer and Zenith, three brands with a strong identity, how do you manage the segmentation of the market between the 3 brands?

JCB: These three brands have three very distinct positions and it is impossible to confuse them. A Tag Heuer has an average price of 3500-, a Zenith-7000 and a Hublot is worth three times that. They also have very different marketing strategies, Tag Heuer with a sporty positioning, Hublot in luxury and Zenith associated with legends like historic automobile,  Cohiba or even the Rolling Stones.

WH: What are your projects for Zenith ? 

JCB: Zenith is a ‘legend’, with the El Primero, Elite or even pilot range. As I said before, the least we do, the better it is for the image of an icon. We need only adapt it. We must continue to create the legend, through modernity and the sex appeal, but not too much, if it becomes too modern we risk destroying the image and popularising it. The challenge is to modernise without destroying, normally when we modernise a product we make the previous product look old.

WH: I understand that you are a great athlete, what is your personal relationship with the automotive sector from a sports perspective and a fan?

JCB: Absolutely. Like most boys I played more with cars than with dolls. When the kid becomes an adult he continues to play, but with larger cars. My relationship with cars is as normal as it comes. I have had the privilege to acquire cars that I once dreamt of as a child. Classic and modern cars. There is nothing better in life than make your dreams true. The realisation of a dream is a sacred culmination in a life. And I wish everyone to achieve a maximum of dreams. It’s what gives charm and hope. If you know from the start your dream won’t come true you end up in total pessimism.The Beatles once sang “There is nothing you can do that cannot be done”.That’s great, total optimism. And that is what feeds us and allows us to believe and make our dreams come true.

WH: After this watch designed in partnership with Gerry MCGovern, what can we expect in the future,from the partnership presented today?

JCB: A lot of synergies, we will not only make a watch, we will develop a 360 ° partnership, with visibility for Zenith in Range Rover points of sale and vice versa. And so we will have a true partnership.


  • Your first watch? Omega Speedmaster.
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time? Everyday.
  • Are you a cat person or a dog person? Both, I have a French Bulldog who’s character is a combination of cat and dog. That’s why I think I can be both.
  • You have a time travelling machine. Past or future? In the future, I want to be connected to the future.
  • Do you own a connected watch? Of course! A Tag Heuer, I wear it everyday.


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