A black glass office block not far from Lake Geneva. A heavy gate slowly opens, a guard meticulously checks everyone entering the building. Here, situated somewhat inconspicuously right off the motorway, are the headquarters of Swiss watchmaker Hublot. Jean-Claude Biver awaits us in a conference room. During the interview, the 69-year-old Biver is at times loud and assertive, he laughs, gesticulates, and even thumps his fist on the table every now and again. But he also listens, pauses to choose his words. That has a lot to do with respect, as he says. Respect for what others do. A central theme for Biver: “My greatest success is Ricardo Guadalupe.” Guadalupe is the current CEO of Hublot. “He started with me 25 years ago. We worked together for years, I challenged and encouraged him, and when he succeeded me as CEO in 2011, nobody noticed that it wasn’t me controlling the company anymore, but him. This man succeeded in continuing to manage the company in such a way that nobody noticed the change. That’s fantastic! That is a real success – because for me success is what you leave behind. If you don’t leave anything behind except maybe money, then you haven’t lived for anybody. You measure your success by the amount that you leave behind, the amount of knowledge that you pass on, the amount of love that you were able to give, and so on. That is the real purpose of life.” We take a seat.
Mr. Biver, you often mention curiosity as one of your most important qualities. When was the last time you were really surprised by something?
I’m surprised of myself every day, of the fact that I’m alive, that I can smell, taste. But I suppose we’re not talking about those sorts of surprises. Okay, so when was the last time I was surprised professionally? Hmmm... when I saw the Porsche 911 GT3 Touring. That surprised me. I thought: that, in concentrated form, is a summary of what a Porsche 911 is all about today. Anyone who wants to have the essence of a 911 needs to buy this car.