The Watch Veteran Jean-Claude Biver Readies His New Brand

The men talked about the first Biver timepiece: the Carillon Tourbillon Biver, starting at $550,000. It is a chiming minute repeater, which means it sounds different notes for hours, quarters of hours, and minutes, on demand.

“Our watch is different to most other minute repeaters,” Jean-Claude said: three hammers, when most models have two; an automatic movement, so it doesn’t require winding; and a tourbillon, which counters the effects of gravity on timekeeping accuracy; along with water resistance to about 165 feet.

Its quality is to be embodied in what they are calling the JCB Seal, to be engraved on each watch’s movement. “We cannot use the Geneva seal because we are not in Geneva,” said Pierre, referring to the mark used since 1886 to indicate that a movement was assembled and inspected in the city. But, he added, while the Geneva Seal has strict requirements when it comes to craftsmanship and quality, the JCB Seal will have stricter requirements — for example, the watch will need to have water resistance to 5 ATM (50 meters), and the undersides of the hands and dials must be decorated.

The timepiece, to be offered in two versions, titanium and rose gold, was conceptualized and built in 13 months. “Normally what we have done would take at least two years,” Pierre said.

Initially, the men had discussed a business, but nothing had been decided — until February 2022, when Jean-Claude unexpectedly announced the brand during an interview with Swiss national radio. It was something, he said, looking over at his son, that he did to dispel his final personal doubts.

“After it had been announced officially, I was not able to contradict it,” he said to great laughter in the nearby kitchen, where one of the watchmakers was preparing a lunch of salad, cheese and cold cuts for the 12-person staff. “We eat here together every day,” Jean-Claude said.

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