It’s a big month for watches in Geneva: The Grand Prix de la Haute Horlogerie (the Oscars of watchmaking) will take place in the Swiss city on November 7 followed by Only Watch, a biennial charity auction of one-off luxury timepieces benefitting Duchenne muscular dystrophy on November 9. And on Tuesday, Phillips announced an exhibition of Jean-Claude Biver’s personal watch collection will open on November 7. The wunderkind former watch executive’s timepieces include everything from serious Patek Philippe and Rolex pieces to some impressive creations from independent watchmakers like Philippe Dufour and newcomer Rexhep Rexhepi.
Naturally, the exhibition will also be reflective of his time lending his Midas touch to brands like Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Omega, Hublot, Zenith and Tag Heuer. Although he retired from his position as the CEO of TAG Heuer and head of the LVMH Group’s Watch Division in January of this year, Biver continues to flex his industry expertise as the non-executive president of the latter.
Unfortunately, none of the pieces will be for sale. But if they ever do go to auction, you know which auction house is likely getting first dibs. A few highlights to keep your eye on include a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 2499, long considered a grail watch amongst collectors, and a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 1518 in pink gold with a pink dial. The 1518, launched in 1941, was Patek Philippe’s first wristwatch to feature a chronograph and a perpetual calendar and the first in the world to be made in a series. There are only 12 known versions in existence with a pink gold case and a pink dial, making this timepiece extremely rare. From the photos, one of which you can see above, it appears Biver’s is in pristine condition.
There are also three Rolex Cosmograph “Zenith” Ref. 16520 Daytonas, one of which (pictured above right) has a Mark I dial noted for its separation of “Cosmograph” from the rest of the branded text beneath the crown and Rolex logo. It’s a feature that has earned this specific Ref. 16520 the nickname, “Floating Cosmograph.” This early type of Ref. 16520 is considered the most valuable. A white dial or “porcelain” dial version sold last year at Phillips for CHF 187,500 (approximately $187,500) at their “Daytona Ultimatum” auction in May.
And it’s only fitting that one of the biggest personalities in modern watchmaking should own a watch by one of the greatest living watchmakers—a Philippe Dufour Simplicity. While the number has reportedly varied, its thought that only 205 Simplicity watches were made and Biver’s is number 180.
You can take a look at more watches featured in the exhibition below, but you can see them for yourself at Hotel La Réserve in Geneva from November 7 through November 10.
More Watches from “Jean-Claude Biver: A Restrospective. Share, Respect, Forgive.”