It was announced last year that Jean-Claude Biver — one of the watchmaking world’s best-loved icons — would be launching a new brand, along with his son, 22-year-old Pierre. Now, a little over a year later, a day before the launch of the ongoing Watches and Wonders 2023, Biver has debuted a timepiece that features, among other things, a tourbillon, a carillon minute repeater and a microrotor, with multiple options of stone dials. It’s named the Carillon Tourbillon Biver. The unveiling event, attended by around 150 collectors and industry stalwarts, was held at a farmhouse atelier in the small town of Givrins, 30 minutes from Geneva.
Jean-Claude Biver’s illustrious 50-year career has taken him from Audemars Piguet and Blancpain to Omega, Hublot and, more recently, to TAG Heuer and LVMH. He stepped down as the head of the LVMH Watch Division in September 2018.
The launch of Biver’s first watch marks the start of a new adventure for Jean-Claude. The watch focuses on serious complexity. While speaking about the brand and the new timepiece, Pierre Biver explained, “We want the minute repeater to be the cornerstone of the brand, made to a design we both could identify with, and with a movement that serves the aesthetic we defined. A contemporary watch, inspired by tradition and representative of both my father and me.”
Each element of the Carillon Tourbillon Biver, from the dial to the hands to the bracelet, tells a story within the history of horology, creating a bridge between the past, the present and the future. To be able to best bring that vision to life, they worked with several experts in the field. For instance, the minute repeater movement was developed by the Cercle des Horlogers, a movement manufacturer, considered one of the best in the field. Well-known specialist Dubois Dépraz was also brought on board to work with the movements.
At first glance, the watch does not reveal all its complexities; only upon delving deeper can one identify the details that make it unique. Housed in a 42 mm case (available in titanium or rose gold or rose gold/titanium), the Carillon Tourbillon Biver has a large crown and bold, angular lugs. There’s a water-resistance of 50 metres. An interesting choice has also been made for the domed dials: they’re made of hard stone, with silver obsidian or sodalite. Pierre revealed how the idea behind the watch was to incorporate a past-present feel. He shared, “Our dials are domed, a nod to the watchmaking of times gone by, yet our indexes are modern and curved. Our hands are dauphine-shaped with planed crests, the angles are polished and the top has a satin finish.”
While the timepiece would make for a prestigious collectors’ item, the automatic movement, equipped with a microrotor, also makes it suitable for daily wear. The caseback grants a view of the microrotor movement with high-end finishes throughout. Among other details, the white gold bridges are black-polished and grained; the steel components are black-polished and satin-finished. The watch is powered by the automatic JCB001 caliber that offers a power reserve of 72 hours.
The father-son duo also revealed that two more pieces are already in the works: a perpetual calendar and then, a chronograph. Jean-Claude’s beliefs that a watch has value because of the soul it carries is mirrored by his son’s take on watchmaking. Pierre said, “Our watch is a sum of parts, each of which must have a soul for the watch to come to life. In the technical office, each part is looked at one by one, even the most ordinary one. And when we look at it, we must be able to marvel at it.” Marvelling comes easy indeed when the watch in question is the Carillon Tourbillon Biver.