Horological-photoessay: One of your own

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Today’s subject is a somewhat unusual one, and an esoteric one even for the horological enthusiasts in the audience. It’s not often that a creative sees the whole product gestation process through form design to photography to consumption; either it happens at the very small and private scale, or you work for Apple (or the like) in in a senior capacity. It takes a certain environment for that to happen. For me, this is probably the fifth or sixth time; several watches for various companies, and of course the MTxFF daybag. This design is a one-off for myself, made by a little company in Switzerland called Ochs und Junior that specialises in such customisations. I wanted something unusual, wearable on a daily basis, and visually interesting: that would have a bit of a chameleon personality depending on light (both direction and quantity). I think this is pretty clear in the images. This is an odd series from a purely photographic standpoint, too: though every set of images I post is subject to some degree of self-curation, here it really doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks of object or images: neither are really for mass consumption 🙂 MT

I wrote the full story behind this watch here, for Quill and Pad, in much greater detail (and probably more than most readers would want to know). Images were shot with a D810, 85 PCE and speedlights, and processed with Photoshop/LR Workflow III. I cover the basics of watch photography in a series of three articles, starting here.

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  1. Such a beautiful watch Ming (discovered through your recent HODINKEE Radio appearance). What is the dial made of?

    Very much appreciate your work, and looking forward to picking up a Ming in the future. Do you offer pick up in KL?

    Best wishes


    • Thanks. In this case – the dial is a type of thick paint over brass…

      We don’t generally do pick up in person as the payment providers require we have proof of delivery on file (i.e. courier tracking) but exceptions can always be made if you let us know in advance 🙂

  2. Stuart Foster says:

    Very nice Ming. It’s so great to see that there are custom, boutique manufacturers passionately crafting their products in a variety of industries. I wasn’t aware that this existed in the watch world but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m more familiar with the guitar and amplifier industry. My daughter was telling me last night about a guy who handcrafts customized running shoes! Amazing. When you own such a unique piece of craftsmanship it definitely brings a great pride of ownership.

  3. Michiel953 says:

    Not to my taste I’m afraid. I favour more classical designs; Heuer Carrera (reissue in my case), the first Chopard l.u.c. 3.96… The Heuer, which I’ve had for over twenty years, stopped recently. I’ve decided to not have it repaired just now, and got myself an Orient EVOV46 or so with black dial and leather strap, 41mm. Very understated yet elegant watch.
    Orient is (compared to the other two brands) extremely affordable, and an endearing brand with a long history of making their own movements.
    I’ve now splurged out (GHgate) on an unbranded quartz satin black Porsche Design (I had the Eterna version; great watch though not infallible) lookalike, textile strap, for eur 70.

    How low can you get… ‘;-)

    • Michiel953 says:

      P.s.: the story on Quill and pad actually reads like the conversations I had with Chas Roberts when (co-; of course) designing my latest and last steel bicycle frame two years ago, although again there as well my taste is conservative and functional.

      Discussing details (geometry, measurements, lugs, finish etc etc) that may appear minor or even insignificant to the uninitiated with the man that will build the frame with his own hands is a very special pleasure.

      • 🙂 and I believe the experience is as much part of the pleasure as the final product…

        • Michiel953 says:

          Yes it is, although collaborating in the final design more than say 5% is treading a fine line, walking on eggs if you get my drift. I don’t want a craftsman that does what I say, I want one that does what he thinks is best (drilling holes in very lightweight steel tubes f.i.; don’t do it). Being allowed to participate in deciding on the finer details assumes that I have knowledge that approaches his; that’s a very delicate area; uncharted lands.

          • True, though I guess that depends on how far your expertise overlaps 🙂

            • Michiel953 says:

              It’s not the fact that matters here; the assumption that the client knows enough to engage in a meaningful discussion with the designer/craftsman is daunting in itself. But after thirty years (!) of ordering frames and riding them we were both comfrotable with the discussion.

  4. Thanks for sharing your watch creation story: it was a captivating read.

  5. Some very good shots in this set. Nice work! Product photography can be quite testing. And the fact that you can achieve such precise results with a Nikon D810 and speedlights is equally impressive!!

  6. A funny watch story: I walked into a city jewellers to buy a watch for my wife for Christmas, I selected a neat slim design and I asked the female assistant if she could put it on her wrist for me to view, as it wouldn,t look the same on a male hairy wrist.
    She replied actually I am quite hairy and she pulled back her sleeve, she was like a gorilla !! I wished that the earth would open up and swallow me. Embarrassing!!!

  7. Gary Morris says:

    Pretty cool! I took a look at their web site and it seems each watch is, for the most part, a custom creation. Customization such as yours seems not to add much if anything to the total cost (or maybe only a little). Regardless of the cost, when your watch is done, you’ve got a lovely handmade crafted item that will give you great pleasure for decades. That’s special.

    It looks like you have the Moon Phase watch… yes? One of these would be a nice minimalist counterpoint to some of my other watches. Thanks for sharing your photos.

    • Yes (to each piece being custom) and no (to not adding much to the cost – when you have heavily modified one-off parts that require re-CADding and manufacture by hand at Swiss labor rates…go figure 🙂 )

      Yes, I used the moon phase as the base – though I’ve also got an annual calendar and one that isn’t on the site (and not available to the general public)…

  8. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Time ?

    “I said we ought to take a plane.
    Time. Time. What is time?
    The Swiss manufacture it.
    The French hoard it.
    The Italians squander it.
    Americans say it is money.
    Hindus say it does not exist.
    You know what I say? I say time is a crook.
    If we took a plane, we’d be there inside 15 hours instead of who knows when.”

    [ From the Movie “Beat the devil”
    by Huston / Capote / Bogart.]

  9. Kristian Wannebo says:

    A really good looking watch!
    Which is a rare thing.

    And beautifully photographed!

    ( Interesting read in Q&P about your personal details on the dial.)

  10. I love the simplistic design, Ming. What is its measured diameter without crown? Just curious to get a feel for its size.

    I’m reading your post after watching Room 101, a light entertainment programme on BBC TV and which aired last night. One of the guests was Ross Kemp, an actor and BAFTA award winning investigative journalist. He wished to send snooty shop assistants to Room 101 and instanced an episode where he wanted to buy an item of clothing but when he presented at the counter to pay, he was told that they wouldn’t sell it to him as he was “too old”! He’s 52. It seems he didn’t fit the demographic of being young and beautiful.

  11. Junaid Rahim says:

    Such a journey to get to this project completed as well. Glad it still brings you pleasure Ming!

  12. What a beautiful watch! Congratulations!


  1. […] with a blowtorch, resulting in something rather special (and something I wanted to do with my own Ochs und Junior some time ago, but we had the wrong alloy). We made 125 of the regular titanium cased blue dial, and 25 of the […]

  2. […] Some watches: the Lange chronographs; my Ochs und Juniors […]

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