It's not often you run into such an important member of the watch industry. Unless of course, you're at Baselworld...
It's just after midday on the first (unofficial) day of Baselworld '19. A good 50% chunk of hall 1 is almost unrecognisable with a new Breitling restaurant, press area, and a lot more trees replacing the Swatch Group sized hole left. We had just finished our first meeting of the show with Tag Heuer looking at the new Autavia range (check it out) the updates to the women's range as well as the new Golf Connected watch.
As we leave, the Bulgari Press Conference is just starting. While we're listening to the announcement of the new world thinnest chronograph (more on that in a few days) we happen to glance to our right and see Jean Claude Biver being interviewed. Attending the press day at Baselworld, it's common to see many important figures in the industry just walking around or grabbing a complimentary coffee in the new press area.
However, Jean Claude Biver (JCB) is kind of next level.
If for some reason you don't know, JCB has accomplished many impressive achievements in his 50+ years in the industry. First up he purchased the Blancpain name and, during the quartz crisis released mechanical watches famously saying "Since 1735, there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be".
Prior to that, he had worked at AP and Omega, the latter in which he goes on the revisit later in life. Once he had kick-started the Blancpain success once more, he then went on to sell the brand for CHF 60 million (not bad for only purchasing it for CHF 22,000) and joined the Swatch Group team on the board of directors.
Biver with his creative thinking and genius marketing mind transformed the Omega brand, bringing Bond on board and getting the full value out of the moon landing (to name a few). A decade after JCB joined Omega, sales tripled...
Next up, Hublot. A brand at the time which was successful with a small team. However, JCB worked his magic again turning it into the powerhouse that it is today.
Back to present day now and JCB mid-interview. Ben and I in the past have talked at lengths about our admiration for JCB so felt it was too good of an opportunity to miss. With a Geckota sample on the wrist and the Geckota Tourbillon Version 2 (stay tuned!) on the other, we politely waited until Jean Claude was free for a moment and went to say hello.
After introducing ourselves and a quick chat, we passed a sample tourbillon over for some feedback from the man himself.
Jean Claude Biver reacted very positively to the watch. Without going into too many details, JCB said he liked how clean and simple the watch is, expressing how important the tourbillon is. I believe he enjoyed being handed the watch by the designer of the watch and the fact Geckota is a British brand.
As we wrapped up our couple of minutes, we had time to grab an image together and let one very busy, in-demand gentleman back to his day...
At the same time, we were getting our quick snap together, a photographer (@mauricehaasphoto) came over asking for an image of Jean Claude Biver. JCB then goes on to pose with Ben, myself and our early tourbillon for another picture, resulting in a pretty cool picture (one for the WatchGecko office wall?).
"Take an image of me supporting this British brand!" - Mr Jean Claude Biver.
This was just one of many cool things that happened on Day 1 for us at Baselworld. Not a bad start to the week...