“Wherever the lifestyle of the millennials is, they must see the presence of our brand,” said Jean-Claude Biver, Hublot’s non-executive president and former chief executive officer. “And slowly, they will start to believe that we belong to their lifestyle.”
Like many luxury brands these days, Hublot, the Swiss luxury watchmaker famous for combining the latest technology with old traditions of making timepieces, aims to attract the young generation — but it’s doing so by going back to its heritage. One of its initiatives toward this end is their “The Art of Fusion” exhibit which recently spent a few days in Manila and featured its watch collaborations with brands (like luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari) and artists (like the Frenchman Richard Orlinski and the creative studio Sang Bleu). The show, comprised of photos and limited edition Hublot watches, held court for four days at the Greenbelt 5 mall in Makati. The traveling exhibit has been in Shanghai, the People’s Republic of China, London, and Hong Kong.
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“The Philippines is an important market for the industry,” Biver told ANCX. “We should understand that there’s a young population here in the Philippines that are active entrepreneurs. They also love beauty and design.” Biver said that around 65 percent of the company’s efforts is going toward communications, “toward people who cannot buy now, but who can buy tomorrow. Because you prepare for tomorrow today.”
Under Biver’s direction—which began in 2004—the once-small Italian brand has formed lasting partnerships with some of the world’s biggest brands and names, including Ferrari, sprinter Usain Bolt, singer Nicky Jam, and street artist Shepard Fairey, to name a few.
For Biver, who hails from Luxembourg, a piece of watch is not just an accessory, but a reminder of a storied past.
When Biver was eight years old, his grandfather gave him a yellow gold OMEGA Constellation watch during his first communion, as part of their Catholic family’s tradition. On the evening of the special occasion, he gave the watch back to his parents, who then kept the timeless piece until Biver turned 18 years old.
“That moment, when they returned the watch, gave me the sense and consciousness that the watch has significance,” he says. “It’s not only there to tell time.”
In 1974, Biver immersed himself in the world of horology by joining the sales department of Audemars Piguet. In 1979, he became OMEGA’s youngest deputy director. Later, he and his friend Jacques Piguet purchased and managed Blancpain. At the time, the quartz clock is taking over the market, and many brands had to close shop. Blancpain went against the trend, and created the tagline, “Since 1735, there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.”
Years later, Biver returned to OMEGA, before he was asked by Hublot founder Carlo Crucco to take charge and turn things around for his brand. And he did. Hublot, for one, was the first brand to introduce rubber straps on gold watches. He also created watches with mechanical movements, instead of using quartz.
Today, Biver owns around 150 watches, and all of them—most are kept in a safe in a bank somewhere—hold a different and relevant message. As with his collection, the former CEO believes that the story behind each timepiece in Hublot’s collections must be told.
“Whatever you do must be coherent with your message,” he advises. “The message of Hublot is fusion. If we do a watch where there is no fusion, no disruption, it will not be Hublot anymore.”
Click on arrows to see who graced “The Art of Fusion” opening at Greenbelt 5
Loic Biver, Emil Klingelfuss, Ivan Yao, Jean-Claude Biver, Wellington Soong, Emerson Yao
Gionna Cabrera, Valerie Bariou and Malu Cabigao
Joey Mead-King and Jean-Claude Biver
Jess Perez, Montiel Delos Santos
Sunny Ku, Jonalyn Lim, Pie Franco, Janice de Belen and Pinky Antonio
Host of the night, Joey Mead-King
Bryan and Kai Lim
Camille and Vohne Yao, Eaton Ong and Bryan Lim
Dennis Lee and Yvonne Yao
Ivan and Tessie Yao, Tessa Prieto-Valdez, Tony Ang
Ernie Lopez, Michelle Arville and Richard Tiu
Mark Chan and Berg Go
Anton San Diego, Riza Torres, Natalia Trompeta and Rod Nepomuceno
Daniel & Elie Go, Lingling Yao
Angie and Joey Mead King
Norman Wee, Kai Lim
Emil Klingelfuss, Tessie & Ivan Yao
Lingling Yao, Jean-Claude Biver and Tessa Prieto-Valdez
Tessa Prieto-Valdez, Joey Mead-King, Emerson and Lingling Yao
Tessa Prieto Valdez
Tessie Yao and Tessa Prieto-Valdez
Emil Klingelfuss, Tessie Yao and Tessa Prieto Valdez
Ron and Chris with Sunny Ku
Yvonne Yao, Dennis Lee, Danilo Chico
Emerson Yao, Jean-Claude Biver, Ivan Yao
Pie Franco , Jonalyn Lim and Janice de Belen
Sunny Ku, Anthony Suntay, Rod Nepomuceno, Noel & Gina Lorenzana and Inez Bernardo
Loic Biver, Ivan and Emerson Yao, Emil Klingelfuss
Ivan Yao, Ruel Maranan
Marnie Chua and Wilson Yeung
Bryan Lim, Tessa Prieto-Valdez and Dennis Valdez
May, Emerson and Lingling Yao
Richard Tiu, Ivan Yao, Rafael Romualdez