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Chefs’ Watch Collections: Does Jason Tan wear his rare timepieces in the kitchen?

The head chef of Corner House reveals the types of haute timepieces that he likes to collect.

JASON TAN

INSTRUMENT OF CHOICE: AUDEMARS PIGUET ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE SELFWINDING CHRONOGRAPH 44MM IN ROSE GOLD

On the surface, he appears to be your Singlish-speaking Hokkien boy next door, with a taste for his mum’s dark soya-sauce chicken and late-night hor fun at Geylang zichar restaurant JB Ah Meng. But Jason Tan is also the chef behind the delicate, modernist cuisine that has earned Corner House a Michelin star for two consecutive years. The head chef and co-owner of the acclaimed restaurant does not just have a fine taste for food and wine; he also has a taste for fine timepieces, and would source a special watch with the same zeal with which he seeks out rare ingredients.

(RELATED: Corner House easily picked up a G Restaurant Awards 2018 Awards of Excellence, having been Restaurant of the Year just two years before.)


“MY CUISINE IS ALWAYS CHANGING – AS IS MY TASTE FOR WATCHES. IT REFLECTS MY PERSONALITY.”


 

WHAT MAKES ME TICK

01 TIME TO CELEBRATE

The AP Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph 44mm Rose Gold, launched around 2008, has been my dream watch for a long time. The hue
of the rose gold is different from that of the carbon or forged carbon pieces that I usually wear. In terms of size, this also appeals to me, because AP Royal Oak Offshores are usually 42mm. I had a few of those, which I have sold over the years, but this is a very expensive piece that needs a special occasion to warrant its purchase, and I finally bought it for myself when we opened Corner House in 2014. It was also a gift to myself for my 32nd birthday, and marks a new chapter in my life and career.

(RELATED: Jason Tan’s culinary journey)

02 BIG BOYS’ TOY

While I wear the 44mm only on days off and special occasions, my daily watch is the AP Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy, which is 48mm. AP didn’t make many big watches until these recent 10 years, and its watches were either 30, 40 or 42mm. I believe there are only two 48mm models – one crafted for Arnold Schwarzenegger and the other for Shaquille O’Neal. They are hard to find but I got hold of the Arnie piece about two years ago.

03 FORM AND FUNCTION

I am usually drawn to watches by their design, and really love the geometry of the Royal Oak Offshore’s bezel design with its rivets. However, I only collect automatic watches. I have about eight watches now, including three AP pieces and a Rolex Deepsea.

04 WORK ON. WATCH OFF

Timekeeping is very important in my kitchen: Every component of the dish has to be precise, with exact timing. However, my watches are too precious to wear in the kitchen. I easily wear the Arnie watch two or three times a week to work, but take it off when I reach the restaurant.

05 DREAM BIG

On my wishlist now: a Richard Mille RM 11.

(RELATED: Inside haute horlogerie’s most rebellious brand, Richard Mille)

Chefs to “Watch”: Emmannuel Stroobant | Jason Tan | Jeremy Nguee (to come)