Watch Of The Week: Restaurateur Simon Kim’s Rolex Datejust Ref. 116233
The Cote proprietor owns a JLC and an AP, however he at all times returns to Rolex.
In Watch of the Week, we invite HODINKEE staffers and associates to elucidate why they love a sure piece. This week’s columnist is restaurateur Simon Kim.
I got here to America from Korea at age 13, not realizing a phrase of English. After I was 16, my mom opened a restaurant in Tribeca and I grew to become a bus boy. As a child, I favored to put on Swatches, which launched a component of enjoyable that resonated with a younger me. However my first actual watch was an Omega Seamaster gifted to me by my father once I graduated from highschool.
My father cared about watches, and nonetheless does. After I was rising up, he wore an all-gold Rolex. He inherited it from my grandfather. It appeared so opulent. It popped off his arm. Rolex grew to become a model I aspired to.
After faculty in Las Vegas, the place I studied hospitality, I returned to New York and labored for among the nice cooks on the earth, together with Jean Georges and Thomas Keller. In 2013, I opened Piora, a fine-dining Italian restaurant. After we earned a Michelin star in our second 12 months, it was a dream come true. However I at all times needed to open a Korean restaurant. In 2017, I lastly did it. The restaurant, Cote, really represented who I’m as an individual. I’m from Korea, however I’m undoubtedly American.
In Cote, I married Korean barbecue to the nice custom of the American steakhouse. Then got here the chance to open a second location, in Miami. Doing this within the midst of the pandemic was so dangerous. The unique Cote was going through collapse, and now we had been opening a brand new place?
I had the choice to withdraw from the deal due to the pandemic, a power majure clause in authorized parlance. However I believed that, simply because the Roaring Twenties adopted the Spanish Flu, there can be an inflow of demand for eating places as everybody began to get vaccinated. My buyers additionally believed this, and we pushed ahead on Miami.
It was a daunting time, however I knew that I had a succesful workforce – and that I wanted to proceed their dignified residing, versus furloughing them and shutting. The need was easy: To maintain as many workers on-board as doable, at full wage.
I pivoted the New York location to supply and partnered with Goldbelly. After we had been allowed to open for outside eating, we unboarded our home windows and used the fabric to trend tables. We began to remain afloat and I used to be capable of maintain each one in every of my managers and cooks on at full wage by way of all the time. And once we opened Miami in February of this 12 months, I couldn’t have dreamed of a extra profitable restaurant opening.
My father’s a really stoic one who doesn’t usually give out compliments. However this time he mentioned “congratulations” and gave me a watch, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, to mark this accomplishment. It’s a fantastic watch. A tremendous watch. I’ve a fantastic Jaeger-LeCoulture Grasp Extremely Skinny Date, as effectively. These watches are fascinating. However I at all times return to Rolex.
After I was rising up within the restaurant enterprise, making an attempt to advance in my profession as an bold individual, a costlier watch appeared to equal a greater watch. I considered a watch as an emblem of standing, an emblem of wealth. However as I matured – I’m 38 now and have two youngsters – my view on this has modified. I feel a watch ought to signify who you’re. Simply as a go well with shouldn’t put on a person, a watch shouldn’t put on him, both. Probably the most particular watch to me is the one which greatest represents the individual I’m. For me, it’s a Rolex Datejust.
The change of watches as presents is a convention of Korean weddings. My spouse and I exchanged Datejusts, which to me exude magnificence and style. I needed this precise mannequin due to its white dial with easy indexes, which I feel goes effectively with a white shirt. Carrying a white shirt is vital to restaurant of us. It exhibits you’re skilled and clear, and that you just’ve readied your self on daily basis to host your clients. Cooks put on white, too.
That mentioned, if a bathroom breaks, I’m additionally the primary one who wants to simply get down and repair it. So the extra delicate timepieces should not those for me.
My watch additionally represents punctuality. It takes a village to run a restaurant. I must have an promoting workforce, advertising, manufacturing, a publicist. There are such a lot of shifting items that should coordinate and cooperate with precision. And not using a respect for time, all of these shifting items can’t come collectively.
At the moment, my dream is to construct a culinary model that represents the identical issues Rolex stands for. Rolex, to me, is much like Mercedes in that it’s clearly very excessive finish, but it surely’s additionally one thing one can work towards. An attainable objective. And it’s the best high quality, which I feel is most vital. I need individuals to come back to Cote with out considering they’ll must spend a month’s lease on dinner. But when they need to come and spend a month of lease, they’ll. I’ve a cellar with $10,000 bottles of wine.
Rolex, in a means, is like that. If you wish to go massive, you may go massive. However if you’d like a super-functional, super-durable, super-well-made watch, Rolex in fact has that, too.
My Datejust has been with me as I’ve made among the largest enterprise choices of my life. You would possibly chortle, but when I’d been a soldier within the making, clasping the Datejust onto my wrist for the primary time was akin to placing on my go well with of armor. I vividly bear in mind the sensation of how the Jubilee bracelet wrapped round my wrist. I felt empowered, able to go on the market and compete.
All images, Tiffany Wade.
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