Jean-Claude Biver

PARIS — Jean-Claude Biver is stepping down from his operational duties overseeing the watch division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, owner of Tag Heuer, Zenith and Hublot, but will stay on as a non-executive president of the division, the watchmaking veteran and industry leader told WWD, confirming reports.

“Yes, I am becoming non-executive president of the three brands and of the watch division. I will stay on as a sort of adviser, consultant and especially to transmit my 45 years of experience to the new teams,” Biver said.

“When you are in driving school, the professor who teaches you how to drive does not sit in the driving seat, he sits next to the driver. I am now sitting next to the driver,” he added, noting he was not referring to one person in particular but rather the various executives who might need his advice.

A towering figure in the industry, Biver is credited with rescuing the traditional watchmaking industry in the Eighties by reviving Blancpain, one of many brands that suffered from the onslaught of quartz technology. He later boosted the fortunes of Omega, and has run LVMH’s watch brands since 2014.

Officials at LVMH declined to comment.

The executive, who has been ill, referred to his treatment and said he hoped to be better by Christmas.

“Today I have entered my 70th year, and I will soon celebrate 45 years in the business — next year — and when you are 70 years old and when you have been sick like I have been, and still am…you realize that life is short,” he said.

“It’s important to get the transmission stage right,” he added.

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