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Zenith interview

Jean-Claude Biver, President of LVMH Group's Watches Division and Interim CEO of Zenith


Into the Spotlight

By Michel Jeannot



Jean-Claude Biver's plans to revitalize the Zenith brand and set it on the right course for continued future success.

Zenith is currently perhaps the least visible brand of LVMH Group’s Watches Division. In taking the helm for the time being, Jean-Claude Biver plans to revitalize the brand and set it on the right course.

You’ve just taken over at Zenith, in addition to your other responsibilities at TAG Heuer and Hublot. What is your plan for Zenith?
The plan for Zenith is to find a new CEO before the end of the year, ideally before the summer. As for TAG Heuer, I will stay on as CEO for a few more years. But make no mistake: I will still be very involved with Zenith after the brand has a new CEO.

The Zenith Manufacture possesses two in-house mechanical movements: the famous El Primero chronograph and the Elite movement. What will your strategy be for mechanical movements?
You’re familiar with the quality of these two movements; we are naturally going to focus on the iconic and legendary El Primero caliber, as well as the Elite movement, which is less well known but extremely reliable. These are the two essential components of both Zenith and its collections, so these two movements will definitely remain the pillars of Zenith’s collections in the future.

Zenith interview

El Primero 36,000 vph

But it doesn’t seem as though you’re going to leave it at that…
That’s true! I’m not at liberty to say more, because the big announcement is at Baselworld, but I can already tell you that we are presenting two exceptional new models. They will definitely be remembered as milestones in the history of the chronograph.

What do you mean by that?
At this point, all I can reveal is that we are presenting a novel, revolutionary chronograph movement, equipped with a new escapement. Zenith has often been a pioneer in chronograph movements, and will continue to be so in the future.

What are you doing for the collections?
We are clarifying, reducing and simplifying our range of products, giving Zenith’s collections a unifying identity. Zenith’s watches should be recognizable at a glance. This element will be fundamental for the brand’s success.

In terms of marketing, what are your goals for Zenith?
First of all, we need to understand that Zenith has three exceptional assets: its history, its creations and its expertise. The brand does not in fact need to invent or search for external marketing elements, when it already has so much to say. This is wonderful, and clearly we are going to capitalize on that. Zenith is probably one of the rare brands that can base its marketing strategy solely on its own qualities, so that is the direction in which we will orient our marketing.

Zenith interview

El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Cohiba

Which are Zenith’s strongest markets at the moment?
Overall, we are strongest in America, Japan, China and England. But we are going to develop and support the brand all over the world.

President of LVMH Group’s Watches Division, President of Hublot, CEO of TAG Heuer, and now interim CEO of Zenith. Doesn’t it get to be a bit too much?
No, because I’m not alone, and I can count on extremely talented, motivated and innovative colleagues. My closest collaborators are a team, and this team is my strength. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to lead a single brand. But with my passion and the support of my team, we are going to do the hard work necessary for Zenith to reclaim its rightful place in the watchmaking world.