When we spotted jazz musician and composer Hiromi Uehara wearing a one-of-a-kind Girard-Perregaux Cat’s Eye watch in Yokohama, Japan, we really wished we’d spent more time practicing the piano. That’s because Girard-Perregaux gifted Uehara with the unique timepiece in recognition of her innovative and energetic arrangements and performances. And who wouldn’t want to be honored with an example of bespoke haute horology?
Of course, Uehara is more than just a good piano player. Known professionally by the mononym Hiromi, she’s a 21st century jazz messenger who has energized the genre with her compelling performances. She is also the second winner of the Francois Perregaux Award, a celebration of the Swiss manufacture’s ties to Japan.
A pioneer of international business, in 1853 François left the family home in Le Locle for New York, and in 1859 he set sail for Asia—well before the signature of the friendship and trade treaty between Switzerland and Japan. Francois’ greatest legacy was to pursue avant-garde designs and futuristic functions while maintaining the core traditions of Swiss watchmaking. This also ties into Uehara’s technique. She is a virtuoso and her command of the keyboard has allowed her to push and explore jazz music by allowing her to tear down an old standard and recreate it by bringing in diverse influences such as fusion, rock and classical.
Which brings us to the Cat’s Eye collection. The line, which gets its name from its oval case shape, was created in 2004 to show that feminine watch designs could also house cool complications such as the “Bi-retro” model with its two retrograde hands that display the seconds and days of the week.
Although Uehara’s personal watch is a one-off, Girard-Perregaux is also marking the occasion with two limited-edition pieces. There are seven numbered, pink gold Cat’s Eye Small Seconds set with 62 diamonds (plus eight more set in the mother-of-pearl dial). The pink gold version’s face is also decorated with musical notes from the pianist’s signature song “Place to Be.” In addition, there are and 24 stainless steel Power Reserve models which feature a seconds indicator surrounded by a motif of piano keys at 9 o’clock. The mother-of-pearl dial set with eight diamonds
Peek through the sapphire crystal case back and you’ll see Girard-Perregaux’s commitment to craftsmanship showcased in the GP03300 self-winding manufacture movement.
Even if you can’t possess a one off timepiece like Uehara’s, there’s something about a Cat’s Eye that makes its wearer unique. Maybe one could sum it up like this: both have mastered not just the mechanics of their respective crafts, both also bring a poetic soul and spirit to the pieces they produce.