By: Lee Yuen-Rapati

A day was bound to come when an hour wouldn’t be nearly enough time to finish (or even mostly finish) a watch drawing destined for Theo & Harris. This fifth article for T&H features the 702nd One Hour Watch drawing and I’m going to bring you through what exactly happened during the sixty minutes it took to draw this watch.

The first OHW drawing that I felt was truly incomplete was watch number 23 which happened on September 23rd, 2014; I was no where near finishing it. Reviewing the entire series, I would consider around fifty drawings unfinished at this point. Of these drawings I was often barely able to finish inking in all of the contours and detail lines; occasionally there will be the bare minimum of marker coloring as in OHW 702, but they are all far from being complete. Essentially, the unfinished drawings serve the same purpose as many of the finished drawings: they are all stepping stones to subsequent designs, a fact I learned to respect soon after the first month of drawing this series.
Before I get to the play-by-play commentary on drawing this watch, I should explain its concept. Lately I’ve become very interested in the Omega Speedmaster Mark series, specifically the Mark IV. Beyond being cool simply because it’s a Speedmaster, it’s got hands galore, and one of those hands (the 24-hour day/night hand) has been replaced by a disc with a triangle. Anytime a watch replaces a hand with a disc, I kind of go gaga. But I digress, the main reason why I brought up the Speedmaster Mark IV is that the movement, crystal, dial and pushers are sealed within a second case that can be removed from the outer tonneau case. This was the inspiration for today’s watch: A chronograph with a removable case, and to take it a bit further than the Mark IV, an interchangeable bezel. The plan was to draw the main watch, one outer case, a measuring bezel (tachymeter, 12-hour, pulsometer etc.), and potentially an alternative case. I was actually thinking this would be a cool excuse to put the chronograph in a Hermès “In the Pocket” style leather case (let me know in the comments if you want to see this as a future drawing). There were a lot of different case options that were floating around in my head: A diving case, a straigh-lug case, a huge hockey puck case with integrated lugs…and many more.

The design that ended up on the page is a chronograph capable of measuring up to 12 hours (chronograph seconds and minutes are centrally mounted and the 12 hour chronograph counter is at 3 o’clock), with a 24-hour hand (at 9 o’clock) and a triple calendar (because why not??). The included peripherals are a vintage style case with fat lugs and a barely drawn-in tachymeter bezel.

So I had inspiration, I kind of had a plan in terms of layout, what happened?.

Before the sixty minute countdown (of doom) started, I spent about twenty minutes on refreshing my mind on the Speedmaster Mark series. I then selected my paper and immediately started drawing the circles for the chronograph and the outer case. Unfortunately I do not have many pictures of this process because there was a lot of erasing and redrawing, and I kind of forgot about my camera. The first drawn circles ended up as bits of graphite on rubber (which are now waiting to be swept up from my floor) as I erased them realizing I didn’t like the layout. Time to start again, but with fifty-seven minutes instead of sixty. After another ten minutes the guidelines were down for the subdials and where the minute track was going to be. With forty minutes to go, I decided to make this chronograph a triple calendar instead of a day-date, the rationale being a single aperture in the middle of the upper part of dial would be blocked when the chronograph hands weren’t in use. So split one aperture into two, shouldn’t take too much time, right? WRONG! Adding in apertures always adds a stupid amount of time deciding not only where they will be on the dial, but what shape will they be, how big can I make them, and what the layout is of the discs underneath? All of those questions need to be physically drawn (and then erased and drawn again) to be answered, and for this watch answering those questions took more than ten minutes.

So we are now more than thirty minutes into this drawing and I’m still penciling in details. Even after 701 other watch drawings I still do not trust my hands to make the right decision on the first go which is why I draw everything (or close to it) in pencil first, then I go over it with a fine pilot pen. It may take more time, but the success rate can’t be denied. Inking in a fully detailed watch is no walk in the park, and this drawing didn’t even get to the point of having its minute track roughed in. By the time I picked up my pen I knew the Hermès leather case was out of the question on this drawing, now it was a matter of getting some ink on paper so there would be something for people to see. Inking took me up to the fifty minute marker, I was just getting started on putting in the speed markers on the tachymeter bezel, looking at the time I said “Screw it! Tachy bezel be damned” and whipped out my markers.

Ten minutes is not enough time to color a watch drawing. Gradients need to be built up layer by layer, different finishes need to be distinguished and colours need to be picked for the dial. I threw the idea of color out the window immediately, as well as putting in the darkest greys for high-polish reflections on the lugs and pushers. Instead of using nine or ten different shades of grey markers to build up form I used five. I used the two lightest shades of grey to simulate gradients and brushed finishes while the other three were used to darken the hollow interior of the case and suggest some high-polish on the lugs and pushers. In the final minute I decided to add in some white gel pen on the hands and 5-minute markers. It would have be great to also add some white highlights to the case, but a minute was all I had and that minute was used on the hands.

Sixty minutes, time’s up. Pencils, pens, markers down, what’s on the page is there to stay. Tomorrow is another day and with it comes another sixty minutes to draw another watch, so I’ll pick up my pencil and do just that.