By: Lee Yuen-Rapati
The side profile of a watch has just as much potential as the face to captivate its wearer. It can contain nuance, balance and a host of different elements and materials. A vintage dial may hold 99% of value in watch, but without a case around it it’s just a thin disc of metal. When viewed from the side a case can show just how thin (or thick) a watch may be, but just like watches on the whole there’s more to a case than meets the eye.
Drawing a watch from the side presents many of the same challenges as drawing a watch from the front, the biggest of which is the relation between the elements. Generally the elements in question are: the width and depth of the overall case, the crown, the lugs, the caseback, the midcase, the bezel, and the crystal. The process I follow is to block out the height and diameter of a case and then determine the size of the crown. At that point I divide the case up into sections (usually three, I have a thing for three-piece cases) and figure out the overall form for the lugs. From there on in, it’s a matter of making sure my measurements are symmetrical, and penciling in the details such as bevels, caseback screws, crystal height etc. Coloring a side view is a lot of fun, there are lots of gradients to be built up and these are the drawings where it’s easiest to show different material finishes (brushed, polished etc.).
The watch drawn for this article isn’t the most detailed or wildest of designs (it is based off of a previous One Hour Watch drawing so bonus points to whoever correctly identifies it) but it still presents quite a few talking points. The watch features a steel case with a large crown and beveled, drilled lugs. Looking closer, it has a three-piece case, a tall but thin bezel, and screws holding in the caseback. The crown has a dome and is high-polished like the bezel whereas the caseback, mid-case and lugs feature more of a satin finish (the bevels on the lugs are high-polish). The lugs come up a tiny bit above the mid-case to hug the bezel, so instead of a case that may look like three pieces of metal stacked on top of each other like pancakes, this little overlap provides a nest for the bezel making the case feel more like a cohesive unit. The curved caseback offers some contrast to the angles of the lugs and bezel, but isn’t on its own thanks to the domed crown and crystal.
In lieu of watch photos, I’ve included some previous watch drawings to demonstrate just how many different forms the side of a watch can take. A good watch will look it from every angle, in fact I almost get more excited from seeing the side profile of a Rolex instead of its face. Even a watch as minimal as the Nomos Metro looks good from the side. A cursory glance might yield a comment like, “it’s just a rectangle with some diagonal lines jutting out the side” but there’s a lot more than that going on in the Metro case. The trend of photographing and documenting watches from more angles is (thankfully) becoming the norm, however I am often still left unfulfilled upon reading a hands-on review article with only a sprinkling of profile pictures amongst a forest of dial and caseback shots. I’ve said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating here: a watch is more than just a pretty face.
To the watch collectors reading this article, I offer you a challenge: the next time you take a picture of your watch, whether it’s on your wrist, under the water or in your food (as an aside, can someone please tell me why watch/food pics are even a thing?), show your watch from the side. There are plenty of discoveries to make and you might find yourself loving your watch from literally a whole new angle.