Chinese classical pianist Yundi had already revealed an exceptional musical talent before taking up the piano at the age of seven. As a student, he won numerous prestigious international piano competitions, culminating in his triumph as the youngest pianist ever to win the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in 2000, when he was just 18. His Rolex Daytona was a gift to himself for his accomplishments, which he attributes to his parents, who allowed him to unleash his potential. In return he found the perfect gift for his father, to keep the two connected no matter the distance: a Rolex watch.
In many Chinese families, parents have very high expectations for their children. But my parents were different. They gave me a lot of freedom to do what I wanted to do. They are very open-minded and tolerant. I think these qualities do have an impact on my pursuit of music and art. It’s thanks to my parents that I was able to fully unleash my potential.
My music career started to take off when I won the Chopin International Piano Competition at the age of 18. For 15 years, nobody had been awarded a gold medal and I was also the first person from China to ever win. Winning was never on my list, so when I did, I was shocked and the first people I called were my parents.
After winning that prize, I was thinking about giving myself a special gift. To me, time was the most important thing back then, so I wanted to find a watch which will always be with me. In my eyes, Rolex has always been a symbol of good quality, precision and the pursuit of perfection. As this is similar to my values and my pursuit of music, I decided to buy myself a Rolex Daytona. It was the watch that I really wanted to have at that moment. So I did my best, like what I did to pursue my music dream, to get one.
Winning was never on my list, so when I did, I was shocked and the first people I called were my parents.
This watch was actually with me at every important moment, including my performances in New York, at Carnegie Hall, at the Royal Festival Hall in London and during the tour in Japan. I think it is even more meaningful to me because it witnessed all those moments. It is more than just a watch. It witnessed my growth, and faced all the challenges along with me. At any time, whether I was happy or not, I had it with me. I do think it has its own life.
It is more than just a watch. It witnessed my growth, and faced all the challenges along with me.
I was thinking about giving my father a special birthday gift to thank him for all that he had done for me; I wanted him to have something that reminds him of me every day. That is why I gave him his own Rolex, hoping it could accompany him as my watch has accompanied me. Since then, we somehow have a special bond. Now I perform all around the world and, wherever I am, I feel that we are always connected by time and by these two watches.
The story that I shared with you is actually a story about appreciating music, my parents and everything brought to me by time. I will treasure all of these for a lifetime.