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These are a few of my favourite things: Jean-Claude Biver, Chairman of Hublot

by Michael Weare
12 November, 2012
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Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Jean-Claude Biver, Chairman of Hublot

This week in These are a few of my favourite things we feature five of the favourite things of Jean-Claude Biver, Chairman of Hublot. Perhaps one of the most charismatic personalities in Swiss watchmaking, Jean-Claude played an integral part in the Swiss watch revival over the past 30 years. He is often credited with single handedly saving the Swiss watch industry from the onslaught of quartz. He breathed new life into legendary brand Blancpain, boldly proclaiming “Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.” He sold Blancpain for an impressive fortune and joined the board of what is now known as the Swatch Group. There he masterminded a stunning recovery of Omega. In 2004 he took over as CEO and board member of Carlo Crocco’s brand Hublot, turning it from a little known name into the internationally renowned and much awarded Swiss watch brand it is today. He has crossed the globe countless times for launches of important new Hublot Big Bangs and King Powers, his beaming face seen with some of the world’s most famous celebrities, sportsmen and women. Here are five of Jean-Claude’s favourite things in life.

Favourite place to stay: My home, Chateau La Poneyre

Jean-Claude Biver and Usain Bolt at Chateau Poneyre

When you have found the perfect home on the shores of Lake Geneva with a spectacular view of mountains, in one of the world’s most desirable places to live, it’s a place you long to return to after gruelling overseas business trips. Jean-Claude loves his spacious chateau so much he even prefers to take his holidays there. His home has played host to several celebrities, including the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, who was flown in by helicopter shortly after the Olympics to celebrate his winning of three gold medals. As it was Usain’s birthday, Jean-Claude laid on a special cake and an even more special new Usain Bolt King Power complete with Usain’s famous two handed pose. The watch is seen pictured next to Jean Claude’s Bigger Bang All Black.  Did they race each other down the sprawling lawns? Probably not.

Favourite dish: Cheese Fondue with my personal cheese from our Chalet La Neuvaz

Jean-Claude slicing some of his own cheese

Cheese Fondue is regarded as the Swiss national dish, and Jean-Claude puts his own personal stamp on his cheese fondue parties by supplying his own cheese from cows at his Chalet La Neuvaz. A cheese fondue is essentially a communal pot of melted cheese into which delicious morsels of fresh bread are dipped.  Like many famous forebears in the world of Swiss haute horology, Jean-Claude is a farmer at heart and has between 60 and 80 cows grazing in the meadows of La Poneyre. He is well known for producing around 5000kg of Gruyere style cheese a year and gifting it to family and friends, and it’s on the cheese boards of many a top restaurant. Count yourself lucky if you are on his cheese list.

Favourite wine: Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947 and if not available, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1961

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947

Jean-Claude knows his wines every bit as well as his watches, and his expansive wine cellar is always stocked with a superb selection of wines. His own personal favourite is Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947. Now this isn’t any old vintage. It conservatively costs close to $19,000 a bottle due to its quality and rarity. But it’s a perfect accompaniment to cheese. The ’47 Cheval is probably the most celebrated wine of the 20th century. It is the wine every connoisseur wants to experience before he dies, a wine that even the most jaded aficionados will travel thousands of miles to taste. It is also mentioned in the animated movie Ratatouille, when food critic Anton Ego visits Gusteau’s. The 1947 is worshipped because in that year July and August were blazing hot months, and the conditions turned practically tropical in September. By the time the harvest began, the grapes had more or less roasted on the vine, and the oppressive heat followed the fruit into the cellar. If it’s not available, Jean-Claude will settle for a another vintage year, the ’61, ‘sweet, ripe, full-bodied, extremely soft and supple on the palate.’

Favourite car: Ferrari 275 GTB/4

Jean Claude and his Ferrari 275 GTB 4

Described as one of the ten greatest Ferrari’s of all time, the Ferrari 275GTB/4 was produced between 1964 and 1968. The 4 at the end of the name reflects its powerful four cam short block engine. Jean Claude’s 1967 model benefitted from a variety of upgrades introduced into the series that were tried and tested in the 275 competition models. Upgrades included a longer nose to overcome front end lift at high speeds, a torque tube driveline and an engine capable of 300 bhp. The 275 GTB/4 was the last incarnation of the 275 and was replaced by the 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Needless to say, this is an extremely rare and expensive vehicle, only 1000 were made and to buy one in good condition these days you can expect to pay close to $2 million. As Jean-Claude explains, cars and watches both belong to the same world of dreams and toys, and the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 is certainly a dream toy.

Favourite watch: Hublot Bigger Bang All Black

Hublot Bigger Bang All Black

Jean Claude’s naturally brand loyal choice of watch is one of the showpieces of the entire Hublot collection. This chronograph has garnered numerous awards and accolades over the past year or two for its complications and innovative use of materials. The 44.5mm case of the Hublot Bigger Bang All Black uses both polished and brushed black ceramic. The bezel is constructed of matte black ceramic and decorated with Hublot’s signature H-shaped titanium screws. From the front you can see into the partly skeletonised watch through a matte black skeleton dial. The watch runs on the HUB1400 movement with a chronograph and flying tourbillion. Consummate marketing man that he is, Jean-Claude never misses an opportunity to be photographed wearing it.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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