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Interview: Classical pianist Lang Lang talks about the importance of good timing

Swiss luxury watchmakers Hublot opened their first Canadian boutique in Vancouver this September with a really big bang — a ribbon cutting with their brand ambassador, the celebrated classical pianist Lang Lang.

By Rhonda Riche

Lang Lang is a truly international phenomenon, and the crush of well-heeled, but star struck fans in the new, two-story boutique was not unlike what it must feel like to be standing 10 feet from Justin Bieber.

Time Signatures

One of the reasons that Lang is such a star in the world of music is that he is so accomplished that he is unafraid to play around with the classical canon. In performances, he changes up the attack and hits the keys hard when others would go soft. Lang also loves to collaborate with musicians as diverse as Metallica, Herbie Hancock and tenor Plácido Domingo.

Likewise, Hublot is well known for attracting big name brand ambassadors such as football legend Pelé, track star Usain Bolt and supermodel Bar Refaeli. They also position their partnerships as collaborations. And so far, the collaboration with Lang (which goes back to 2015 has resulted in two limited edition timepieces: The Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon Lang Lang and the Classic Fusion 45mm Ceramic Ultra-Thin Lang Lang. 

The Interview

We asked Lang about how important timing is in his life. “We always play with time,” he says. “The breathing in between the movements.” As an interpreter of composers ranging from Bach to Gershwin, he also appreciates that timepieces bridge the gap between the traditional and the modern.

Although (or maybe because) Lang grew up in communist China, he also has an appreciation for the finer things in life — like high end watches. “Luxury is timeless… whether its new or 100 years old.”

But the biggest reason Lang loves Hublot is he feels that their brand is close to his own brand — a little brash, sometimes excessive but always passionate in the way they approach art. “I want to work with people like the Weeknd, Bruno Mars or EDM artists. So, it’s interesting to see who they collaborate with,” he says, “Hublot loves all kinds of artists!”

Ring the bells

Which is why we are intrigued by the Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater Carbon Lang Lang. On one hand, it makes sense for a musician to be attracted to this complication because it sounds out the current time on demand by activating a series of chimes. Hublot’s original Classic Fusion Tourbillon Cathedral Minute Repeater won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, Striking Watch Prize in 2014. 

Of course, what makes a good minute repeater is the quality of the sound and the complexity of the notes. The Lang Lang version came about because the pianist was looking for a lighter version to wear on his wrist in concert — hence the carbon case. Again, purists will argue that a rose gold case is the most musical material, the resonance of the gongs seems louder and clearer than minute repeaters cased in metal. And the carbon case also offers more durability and water resistance.

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