Biver named Hublot chief

Jean-Claude Biver, an eminent veteran of the Swiss luxury watch industry, has been named executive managing director of Hublot, an innovative and sporty Swiss luxury brand. He also joined the company’s board of directors.

Biver first made his mark in Swiss watchmaking at Audemars Piguet. In 1983, he bought the venerable Swiss brand Blancpain (1735), which he relaunched and established as a leader in very high-end watches. In 1992, Biver sold Blancpain to the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, but remained president until early 2002. He also led the upscale Omega brand, owned by the Swatch Group, and served on the Group’s board, where he was co-responsible for Swatch Group operations in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia.

In January, Biver took a year’s leave from the Swatch Group to work with luxury watchmaker Franck Muller, who had left the company he co-founded and wanted to start a new watch brand. However, that was held-up by counter-lawsuits filed in Swiss courts by Muller and his former company. So Biver accepted the offer from Carlo Crocco, founder, owner, and chairman of MDM Genève, to oversee MDM’s Hublot luxury watch brand.

Geneve-based MDM is one of the few independent family-owned Swiss watch firms. Its innovative Hublot watch has long been popular with celebrities, royalty, and affluent watch enthusiasts. It caused a sensation when it debuted in 1983, not only for its porthole shape (“hublot” in French) of polished and brushed precious metal and minimalist black dial, but also its now-signature black natural rubber strap (vanilla-scented), which other upscale brands now are copying.

MDM produces some 15,000 Hublot watches annually. Major markets include Spain, Italy and the United States.