By: Lee Yuen-Rapati
The first day of September marks the beginning of a new year for One Hour Watch. Year one was full of whim, year two marked a truly unprecedented growth for the series, and my general goal for year three is refinement. Of course the visual refinement of concepts is a constant goal, but this year I really want to focus on refining the efficiency at which those concepts can be produced. Over the past year there was a trend that appeared in the drawings where I was getting more accurate with my details, however there were many cases where time slipped away before the drawing could be completed (one example of this is chronicled in a previous post here). It would not be such a concern if the unfinished drawings were all intricate tourbillons or skeleton watches, but more than a few were very simple concepts that did not see any color injected into their dial, no metal simulated for their case, and occasionally no pen lines to even define their edge. Why I could not finish a simple dive watch more than a year after completing a skeletonized minute repeater tourbillon was troubling. The older drawing may have been rough in its proportion and line quality, but at least it gave a sense of material and form. I did not want to become someone who posted simple pencil sketches, no matter how accurate they were.
Enter the One Hour Watch Review. Over the course of drawing more than 700 watches, there were many designs that I have wanted to revisit. The beginning of year three seemed like a perfect time to reflect on the ideas that have built the OHW collection. The idea for the Review would be to choose fifteen previous watch drawings, and redraw them so as to fix flaws or errors and (more importantly) to fulfill some unfinished concepts. September worked well for this project since I could still draw new watches, and every other day I could draw a Review watch. This Review would provide the opportunity to focus more on the rendering of the watch as opposed to splitting my attention and time between designing and rendering. It would be nice not feeling like I was flying by the seat of my pants each night trying to draw a new watch. Having said that, I was quite nervous at the onset of the Review, there was the added pressure of improving on an existing benchmark whereas a new design could improve on nothing. Part of this pressure was the choice of watches I had prepared for the project. None would be a walk in the park to redraw, and each had its own set of challenges that needed to be addressed. There was a real possibility of ending the Review with a collection of accurate, but colorless line drawings. For better or worse I was going to redraw fifteen watches and the first of them came on September 2nd.
Bike Chain Jump Hour
9 September 2014 & 2 September 2016
The first watch up for review was OHW No. 9: a complex jump hour with a chain-driven minute hand. This was a concept I could see someone like Max Büsser taking on: an intricate mix of sci-fi and aeronautic aesthetics with a bike chain thrown in for good measure. It was the first unfinished drawing in the OHW series and a perfect start for the Review.
The main goal was to get some color in before sixty minutes to show off the depth of the mechanism. Most of the form for the watch was already present in the original drawing so there was not too much to rethink or add in. The biggest change was widening the entire watch as the original is a bit too long, the other major changes were the addition of a minute track and magnifier for the hour display. There were a few things I took out like the double winding barrels as well as any semblance of where a strap would be anchored at the bottom of the watch. A recurring theme in nearly all of the OHW Review drawings is an abandonment of the strap. In most of my designs it is an afterthought so it was not something I wanted to devote too many precious minutes to.
Drawing in the details for this watch was thankfully a straight forward affair and I was left with enough time to color in the dial. Shadows were put in, magenta jeweled bearings appeared, and a very deep dial took form. Shading on the case was unfortunately rushed and ultimately unfinished, but overall the drawing was far more complete than its predecessor. It was a good start to the Review.
Cushion Case Day-Date
11 October 2014 & 4 September 2016
OHW 41 was inspired by the Rolex Skydweller and the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5164. This was a watch I was satisfied with upon finishing, but whose flaws became painfully apparent quite soon after. The case was rough and out of perspective, there were no markers for the minutes and hours (I am not sure if I simply forgot to draw them in, or if I chose to omit them) and the hands could not compete with the heftiness of the case.
The first decision I made was to draw the new watch from the front. Drawing from a perspective view is an unnecessary challenge when depicting a watch with a detailed dial. The case was updated with curvier lugs and a thicker bezel. The day and date rings were made larger and I eliminated the reflective metal that covered the top half of the dial. The power reserve indicator was changed to a curved aperture display so as to fit in between the date ring and the minute track. Finally, the hour and minute hands were beefed up and were joined by a seconds hand.
I realized only upon finishing the drawing that I had used the wrong blue marker for the dial, a Petrol Blue Letraset Promarker instead of the original Blue Grey 7 ShinHan Touch Twin. The new blue is not bad, but the original blue grey is definitely my preference. The minute track was a welcome edition and overall I am far happier with the new proportions of this watch. There are still things to change, but it settles as a fine evolution.
Double Barrel Tank
23 October 2014 & 6 September 2016
The goal for this redesign was to take a watch I was (and still am) very happy with, and see what a second attempt would look like. The original design featured a partially open worked tank watch that highlighted its two winding barrels under a clear seconds subdial. While it was more rough than its newer version I find the original to be my personal favorite of the two, due to the taller thinner proportions of the older watch case. The new version may have some nice additional details, but is case is squat.
I decided to change the double barrel to a double escapement for the new watch in order to allow more jewels to be drawn and provide a nice visual ‘upgrade’ for the watch. A single power reserve indicator remains at the top of the dial, and the crown has been hidden behind the watch for a direct wind setup.
Admittedly the lack of darker greys in the dial plates is a disappointment. There is a bit of depth shown around twin balance wheels, but around the hour and minute dial the grey is far too light. The case also suffers from a lack of high and lowlights that are found on high-polished metals. In the end this piece is an interesting iteration rather than a finalized concept.
30 October 2014 & 8 September 2016
Incorporating a tourbillon into a design is a near surefire way to prevent a watch drawing from being completed in an hour, yet the first time I drew one, I was not only able to complete the drawing, but add in a very rare complication: the repeater. A majority of tourbillon watches drawn since this one have remained unfinished.
There were only two things I really wanted to change about this watch: nesting the pusher and the crown further in to the case. The rest of the changes were simply shifting around internal components and reshaping the bridges and frames. There are a few more visible jewels and blued screws, and the winding stem has been hidden beneath a plate. The hammers have been brought up and decreased in size and there is a hint of an oval gong running around the periphery of the lower dial.
It was of utmost importance that this Review drawing be colored to a finalized state. Of the five previous tourbillon OHW drawings, only one was finished, one has a partially colored dial, two remain pen drawings, and one never saw a drop of ink deposited on the paper. While there are quite a few things to change or refine on this drawing, it is an example of effective time management. There was just enough time left after drawing in the details to lay a lot of color down on the paper making this a good benchmark for future complicated designs.
Digital Jump Hour
28 January 2015 & 10 September 2016
Here is a watch I have wanted to redraw ever since I finished it back in January 2015. Not because I felt it was incomplete or flawed, but simply because it was so much fun to design and draw. This watch may strike a close resemblance to the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk but the main inspiration for this piece is actually the work of F.P. Journe. The combination of gold or brass plates with starkly white subdials on the faces of Journe’s watches was like nothing I had ever seen, and though it took a while to warm up to some of the typographic aspects of F.P. Journe’s work, the mix of colors from dial to case was something I wanted to replicate.
In revisiting this watch, it turned out that the choice of paper was not the most conducive to showing a contrasts between the creamy dial, the white hour and the minute discs. Oh well, it simply gives me the excuse to revisit the watch again in the future! The changes made are mostly minor: the case has been simplified, the hour and minute discs have been brought closer together, and the power reserve indicator has been set into the dial. While a newer, cleaner and more contrasted version of this watch is definitely pending, this current revisit was a fun endeavor.
This concludes the first part of the One Hour Watch Review. Check back next week for a chronograph-heavy article, these wont be your everyday Daytonas or Speedmasters.