WWD: You played an instrumental role in helping to spark the trend for mechanical watches when quartz movements seemed to be crushing the Swiss industry. To what do you attribute the continued success of mechanical watches today?
Jean-Claude Biver: The luxury watch is somehow a piece of art and art is not the result of an industrial process, but heritage and savoir faire. Therefore, we will never see a quartz watch keeping its price 100 years from now. And a mechanical watch, like the automat of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, can be repaired even after 300 years, while a quartz watch from the early Eighties is so obsolete that you can hardly repair it.
WWD: Hublot is another in your string of success stories in the industry. What are the most important factors in making a watch company fly?
J.B.: If there were only one factor it would be too easy. The most important are message of the brand, product, distribution, public relations, quality and finally pricing and charisma of the people representing the brand. All these factors need to be coherent in respect of the message of the brand. Everything starts with the message first and then all the other elements must be put into place with coherence to the message.
WWD: Has Hublot's success exceeded your expectations?
J.B.: "Yes, and by far. I declared in 2004 that I wanted to achieve $100 million turnover by 2008, which was four times the 2004 turnover. We are now at $250 million.
WWD: Why would someone want to buy a Hublot watch?
J.B.: Because Big Bang [one of the brand's newest, top-selling styles] connects you to the future and it represents a new vision of the traditional watch. If you want to be connected to the past, you won't choose a Big Bang. But if you want to belong and be connected to the future, yes, then Big Bang is the only product for you.