My Three Watch Wardrobe: Hospitality Guru Mr Alireza Niroomand
Born in Iran and raised in Paris, Mr Alireza Niroomand cut his teeth working as a waiter for legendary chef Mr Alain Ducasse. He made his name in New York as maître d’ for Sant Ambroeus, rising to become creative director for the restaurant chain (and cementing it as a Manhattan institution along the way). Now back in France to work on a hotel opening – a project delayed by the pandemic – he spoke to us about his love of watches, which, it turns out, seem to gravitate towards him.
“You want to know a funny story?” he says. “I never bought any watches. I never gifted myself a watch. I was always given watches, but I never bought one for myself. I don’t have a huge collection. I have maybe four or five watches and I have funny stories with all of them. Two of them were gifted to me by friends, one of them by a client of the restaurant, one was from my boss and one was found in the street.”
Sorry, what? “Yes! When I was 18, I used to live in Paris. One day I’m on rue Saint-Honoré with my mum and we walk by a jewellery store and I show her… I think it was the Rolex GMT Pepsi and I told her, ‘That’s my dream watch.’ I was 18, so my mum goes, ‘Yeah, good. Keep dreaming.’ We go home that day and my sister, who had gone to a club the night before and gone to bed very late, was getting up in the afternoon and says, ‘Oh, by the way, I found a watch last night.’ And she came in with a Rolex Submariner. Not the GMT, but still. Luckily, she didn’t have a boyfriend back then, so I got the watch. And I have it still, after 25 years.”
It seems almost unnecessary to ask someone with such good fortune to indulge in our fantasy shopping exercise – which three watches would you take home from MR PORTER, money no object? Knowing his luck, they’ll probably end up on their way to him without us knowing how or why, as if the universe wills it, but nevertheless we did.
“My first instinct would be to go to dress watches,” says Niroomand. “The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is one that I’ve always wanted because my father used to wear it and I never had one. He wouldn’t say he was a watch collector and he didn’t like overly fancy watches, but he loved the mechanism of a watch. So, for him, the go-to watch was Jaeger-LeCoultre or Breguet. It’s funny because I basically developed all my style through my father, from suits to colourful socks and well-crafted shoes, and he was very specific. For example, he would only wear Crockett & Jones. He would get obsessive, then he would go and buy a lot of shoes.
“Me, I almost completely stopped shopping last year. Before that, I think I had a sort of a disease. I was a crazy, crazy shopper. Especially back when I lived in New York. In New York, somehow it feels like if you’re not shopping or if you’re not spending money, you’re unconsciously a loser. Here in Paris, I’m completely different, especially since Covid hit. I realised I have everything. Not once, not twice. I have everything that I want for another 40 years. I have things that are still sealed with the tags, so I completely stopped shopping and it’s so satisfying. I’m still a spender, don’t get me wrong. I spend money, but on things that you can pass on, on things that last. You pass a watch on to your kids and that’s the kind of things that I want to spend on. It’s OK that we want to consume, but I think we should consume a little more smartly.”
Cartier Tank Louis Cartier
“I like the Louis Cartier, it has such a classic look. It’s so elegant and understated. It’s a classic watch and a friend of mine introduced me to it and he wears it so well that I fell for it. You know the brand Aimé Leon Dore? Last year Teddy [Santis, the brand’s designer] posted a picture of a Louis Cartier with a green strap and it was so elegant. For Christmas, I almost went and bought one and then I was like, ‘No, wait. I have three kids’ educations to pay for’. Plus, of course, my track record of not buying watches for myself. I hope one day my wife will give it to me. It’s funny because all the watches I have, I share them with my wife.”
Piaget Polo Automatic
“My third choice would be the Piaget Polo Automatic. This is a watch I always wanted, but I never bought. The Polo Automatic with the blue face is beautiful. It spoke to me. I like it because it has a classic look without being an obvious choice, like a Patek or something that everyone goes to just because it’s a trend. I have a thin wrist, so I like thin watches. The thinner the better. And I love colours. It’s always full of colours, my house, with flowers. Life is too grey as it is right now if we don’t add colours to it. I dress very classic, always in navy suits, but then I always have a little note that sets me apart, something a bit eccentric. For a long time I used to wear coloured socks, like my father. Today, I think it doesn’t work any more, but I always have something.”