On-assignment photoessay: From the workbench

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I shot for one of my toughest clients recently: ourselves. Whilst there’s no pressure, we all have the desire to do better with every set – and there’s the friendly internal competition given that there are no fewer than five photographers amongst the founders’ group. I am of course talking about the watch business; this set was photographed at the facilities of our production partners Schwarz-Etienne in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, whilst a series of 19.01s and 19.02s underwent assembly, regulation and final quality control. I’ve shot this kind of thing before for many other brands, of course – but it feels very different when it’s your own name on the dial and movement… MT

Images were shot with an Olympus PEN F and Panasonic-Leica 12-60. Post processing with the Monochrome Masterclass workflow. Image of yours truly at the bench shot by my co-founder Dr. Magnus Bosse.

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. Nice set of pictures! Today I feel sad Olympus is discontinuing the Pen-F as I enjoy using it so much. I also will be leaning towards the Z 7 as an easy to carry camera. After three months I know I really like it but I still feel MFT has an edge for handheld macro and close- up photography… Don’t sell the Pen F! It is an unique, beautiful and capable instrument and I know you enjoy using it.

  2. sav frieze says:

    such a lovely set of images! I stopped wearing a wrist watch quite a long time ago as there seems to be some psycho-emotional pressure in having the time in front of you all the time, and well its a bit out of my income range.

  3. Anatoly Loshmanov says:

    Hello Ming !
    Absolutely impressive story !
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Fine pictures – I would imagine that it takes something of a different mindset to shoot something in which you are personally involved.

    I’m guessing that the use of the Olympus is a result of your unfortunate accident – yet what better demonstration of sufficiency that you consider it good enough to shoot your own personal work?

    I have a pet theory about “stages”. For instance, I’m now in my mid forties (feels odd typing that out!). My early 20s were university time. Mid to late twenties, starting in the world of work. Thirty : moved to a new country. Thirty to around forty : paid my proverbial dues doing the same thing (almost) everyone does here at first. Now : moved onto better things. Next : who knows?

    I wonder if you don’t get the same kind of feeling : as memory serves, you started off in some kind of corporate finance field, then you went full time as a photographer, and now it seems like the watches are your primary focus – although that seems almost circular, rather than linear. Do you see the role of photography in your life changing?

    • Thanks – yes, it’s not easy when you’re both involved and there for different (i.e. production and watchmaking) purposes; jin some ways I need to remember to shoot or remember that I’m there to do other things.

      Olympus: yes, and the fact that I could use the 12-60 for pretty much everything cuts weight significantly. This set was shot pre-Z7, though, so in future that will (and has) replaced the Olympus setup. The weight penalty is but one lens: a 105VR for macro; but the image quality gains are significant.

      I’ve definitely gone in a big circle, given my interest in watches predates corporate and photography – and in fact launched my photography career. Photography has gone from hobby to profession to necessity and back a notch to both hobby and necessity; it feels of late the pressure is somewhat off since I don’t shoot as much commercially, but paradoxically I’m producing more interesting (and personally satisfying) work…

  5. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Some really nice looking watches – with a distinctive style!
    ( Had a look at your homepage.)
    A rare thing even at higher prices.

    ( But sadly out of my reach … also I’m a bit too careless to own one.)

    And very nice to be allowed this inside view!
    Wishing you success also with future designs!

    A question, I’d thought watch assemblers would need to have their hair covered?

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