Chef Daniel Boulud appreciates all of the finest details of life—from the rarest ingredient in the kitchen to a prized vintage bottle of wine, exotic cars and of course, luxury timepieces. We recently caught up with the world-renowned chef at his eponymous Restaurant DANIEL in New York to discuss all things time—he shared with us the first timepiece he ever received, first purchased, some of his favorites in his collection, as well as what he would buy if money were no object. Find out all the details below:
HT: We know you are a watch collector. What are some of your favorite pieces in your collection?
DB: I just purchased a new watch from Audemars Piguet. It is blue and brown and has a leather strap—I like it because it’s super nice but not flashy. It’s not French blue, but more of a deep-sea blue. Right now, I am wearing a Rolex Daytona. This is a Rolex that is very close to my heart because it belonged to a dear friend of mine. We share a sad story together, so he wanted to give me this watch. It’s very special to me because of that. I also have the GMT Panerai in double gold, which I also love. I have one of the first ceramic Panerai watches that came out in black.
I love ceramic in a watch because it never scratches, and as a chef, you need that because you’re working in the kitchen with stainless steel, coming from a lot of different angles, where your watch isn’t always protected. I also have a Hublot watch that I love, and you can see I have the Hublot clock hanging in the kitchen [points below from his Skybox to the kitchen at DANIEL], which I received from Mr. Jean-Claude Biver. I am also a big car guy, so I love Chopard because they do the Mille Miglia.
The last AP I bought, I purchased for my son to eventually have. My son is 5 years old, but I’ve realized I already have to start collecting watches to pass down to him [laughs].
HT: What was the first watch you ever bought for yourself?
DB: The first watch I bought was when I was 16 years old, it was a Pierre Cardin. Pierre has always been an amazing designer, and back in the ’60s and ’70s, he created a super cool watch, which was very telling of the time period. It was very fashionable. Back then I was going to the clubs already [laughs], so I used to wear it out. I was living by myself in Lyon. I left home when I was just 14 years old and started to work in the kitchen.
HT: How did you progress your purchases from there?
DB: After, I had a phase where I was loving diving watches, and then moved more toward sophisticated watches. When you have a milestone in your life, a watch can be very important for a man, and I’ve been collecting watches for quite a long time.
HT: What is one of your everyday watches?
DB: I think Rolex is amazing for everyday wear. It’s a watch that’s made for both durability and style, as well as, of course, its complications.
HT: If money was no object, what watch would you purchase?
DB: Well, I’ve been trying to tap Richard Mille for a while to work with me on something to create a chef’s watch. That would be amazing. I love their watches because they’re so lightweight and perfect for the kitchen.