Watch industry icon Jean-Claude Biver has launched his own watch brand alongside his son Pierre. The new highly exclusive brand named Biver was revealed in Geneva this weekend as the annual Watches & Wonders event prepared to kick off.
After nearly 50 years in the watchmaking industry, Jean-Claude Biver, is putting his expertise into practice as he embarks on this new adventure: the creation of a highly exclusive and prestigious brand. Along with his 22-year-old son Pierre, he has called upon the best specialists in each field (dials, hands, bracelets, case, etc.) to create museum-quality timepieces of great prestige.
The first chapter of the story, which was revealed in Geneva, is dedicated to a watchmaking complication that is close to their hearts: a minute repeater. Or more precisely, a minute repeater with a tourbillon and a micro-rotor.
The first model from the brand is a distillation of watchmaking culture aimed at the enlightened watch lover. Each element, from the dial to the hands to the bracelet, tells a story within the history of horology, creating a bridge between the past, the present and the future.
As passionate collectors themselves, Jean-Claude and Pierre Biver understand that the connection between a watch and its wearer is a powerful one. They have therefore integrated symbolic elements into the architecture of their timepieces that make them unique. This notably comes through in the dials made from natural hardstones – silvered obsidian and sodalite. They were chosen for their attributes which have been recognized for thousands of years: sodalite offers courage and confidence and is also soothing because it has a protective aspect, whereas silver obsidian is comforting, confers dynamism, and optimism and is very stimulating.
The minute repeater is both a rare collector’s item and an object of curiosity, because, beyond embodying the art of watchmaking, it carries messages that are more subtle, even spiritual.
To Jean-Claude and Pierre Biver, technology is there to serve the philosophy of the founders and not the other way around. “We want the minute repeater to be the cornerstone of the brand,” explains Pierre Biver, “made to a design we both could identify with, and with a movement that serves the aesthetic we defined. A contemporary watch, inspired by tradition and representative of both my father and me.”
In order to make the minute repeater more contemporary the watch features a new sound that has never been used in the industry before. We added a third hammer, which requires a very fine adjustment of the tempo to get the tone just right,” explains Pierre Biver. And so, during the creative process driven by father and son, the minute repeater evolved into a carillon. “We also opted for a tourbillon with a titanium cage, which makes it lighter but also more challenging to decorate, as well as modern bridges; and to power the watch we have a micro-rotor,” he adds.
Even the smallest parts of this watch, including those that cannot be seen, have been decorated by hand according to the highest standards of artistry; they have been polished, satin-finished, grained, and flame-blued. It is in the finishing that one recognizes the Biver signature: a quest for invisible beauty. “We decided to decorate all the faces of all the components of the movement,” the Bivers say. “To achieve this, we had to push our partners to develop techniques for decorating certain parts of the pieces that were not originally designed to be decorated. The underside of the bridges, for example, is hand-grained, which is very rarely done.”
This watch is not one to reveal all its mysteries at first glance. Each one of its constituent elements holds meaning in the eyes of the Bivers. It gives us much more than the hour, the quarters and the minutes. This model is a distillation of watchmaking culture that is aimed at the enlightened enthusiast.
“It has a past-present feel: our dials are domed, a nod to the watchmaking of times gone by, yet our indexes are modern and curved. Our hands are dauphine-shaped with planed crests, the angles are polished and the top has a satin finish,” says Pierre Biver.
The five-link metal bracelet is specially designed for the brand. “It was constructed as an integral bracelet, but it’s actually interchangeable,” explains Pierre Biver. “As for the crown, which is the most direct connection between watch and wearer, we wanted it to be substantial, with a vintage vibe.” Through a loupe it can be seen that the fluting is polished, and the inner face of each tooth is micro-bead blasted.
This minute repeater was designed to be worn every day, everywhere and under any circumstance. The case is water resistant to 5 ATM (about 50 meters). “It is shower-proof, and the owner can take it into the pool, though we wouldn’t recommend wearing it to swim laps every morning,” smiles Pierre Biver. “It’s a way to dedramatize the minute repeater, to get it out of its usual context, and especially out of its box.”
“Even though they are very valuable, we want our pieces to be user-friendly, really, and for the collector to enjoy them on a daily basis. The choice of an automatic movement equipped with a micro-rotor makes this watch absolutely a daily wearer. We see technology as being at the service of our vision, but above all at the service of the client. The best way to bring a watch to life is to wear it,” he adds.
Paradoxically, as we look at the watch, we forget the passing of time. But does it matter? “A watch has value for us because of its spiritual aspect, because of the soul it carries,” says Jean-Claude Biver. “Because an object without a soul is a dead object. We want to give birth to the soul of the watch.”