Thursday, January 3, 2019

Waiting for Biver...

“Estragon: We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?

Vladimir: Yes, yes, we're magicians.” 

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot


To be very clear, I am not a mind reader, soothsayer or knower of "unknowable" things.  But I like to think I am a pretty good judge of actions and motivations.  If you have not yet, I strongly encourage you to check out the excellent Hourglass video interview with Jean-Claude Biver -

Jean-Claude Biver / Hourglass

Let's hop in the "not-so-wayback" machine to where it was announced that due to health concerns, Jean-Claude Biver was stepping aside from his full-time responsibilities at LVMH.  At the time, many of my colleagues in the Fourth and Fifth Estates theorized that this was indeed the end.  Being the contrarian that I am, I bet the other way.

And while I am not calling the other participants in the office pool to collect yet, I am fairly certain I might be seeing some extra walking around money coming my way shortly.  If you watch the interview carefully, (hell, you don't even need to watch it that closely) you will see a physically and (again, let's be honest) emotionally different person than you heard from in the months previous.  In the interview, a lot of the conversation was about how passionate Mr. Biver is about watches, about his need not necessarily to work, but to do something he is passionate about.  And I gotta' be honest, he looks good... Tony Robbins good!

But I am not here to sanctify him, because the interview also revealed some of the contradictions that he presents. His comments on his special jury prize from the GPHG were telling.  He starts out genuinely touched and moved, and then the darker side creeps in as he mentions that he has felt that some of the people in the industry are (or have been) jealous of him and not necessarily liked him.  I am paraphrasing here, but you get the idea.  He also mentioned that he was touched that he still received a standing ovation, and that (again, paraphrasing here) folks put aside their feelings about him and recognized his contributions to the industry.

Now normally, you might just mention that you were chuffed, be gracious, accept your award and move on.  But if I am reading the tea leaves correctly, I think that this is a bit of a James Brown riff to  get ready for a "how 'ya like me now" moment in the near future.  Mr. Biver has a lot of achievements, and has done great things in the industry.  But having been on the receiving end of some of his less-than-warm and fuzzy feelings, I will simply say that I am not buying absolutely everything that is being sold here.  

I suspect that we will see him back in the next few weeks / months with something new.  And I certainly wish him Godspeed and the best of luck.  For better or worse, the industry needs its stars, and at the moment his is the biggest.  And as I said to some folks when asked just following his "semi-retirement" announcement back in September, I would be more surprised if he didn't come back with a new/different brand than if he stayed retired.  In the end, we are all our own person and we have to be true to ourselves.  And let's be honest, the press and fans love to follow him.  Personal feelings aside, the man has charisma, and his achievements speak for themselves.  So we will watch, and we will wait to see what he decides.

“Let's go." "We can't." "Why not?" "We're waiting for Godot.” Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

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