One of the quintessential items in Chinatown is the watch. You don't hear it quite as much any more, but I remember many moons ago walking down the street to a chorus of "Rolex? Copy Watch?" I wasn't looking to shell out huge money for a watch, so I set my sights a bit lower on the watch ladder. After scouring the stores for one without visible scratches - cloning those out in Photoshop can take forever - I found a suitable watch that I might actually wear at some point. It is a metal-banded Guess watch. I negotiated two watches at the same time (although sometimes you wonder if that really makes a difference), so I'll be writing about images of a Patek Phillippe in the future.
I bought some "props" at Michael's, little stones, to use as a background. The color mixed well with the watch. I stuffed the inside of the watch with a cardboard tube to help maintain the shape and thoroughly wiped the watch down to remove as much dust and fingerprints as possible. I set the time to the standard picture taking time and pulled out the bezel when the second hand got to 33 seconds. I realized later that I had set the watch to 1:50 instead of 10:10, but I never really was good at telling time!
The face of a watch is highly reflective, so you can’t put a light shining directly on it or else you wouldn’t see the face in the photo. I built a bit of a “light tent,” using white foam core boards on the left and the right, starting at the lens of the camera and angling away. I then took a homemade scrim - a translum sheet on a PVC frame approx. 24” x 36” - and rested that on top of the foam core. I took an Einstein strobe head with a 7” reflector and floated that over the scrim on an angle so it produced a bit of a gradient on the face of the watch. It also provided some illumination into the rest of the scene. The stones surrounding the watch were looking flat, so I put a 20 degree grid on another Einstein strobe to focus the beam and placed that low in relation to the scene, so that the light was raking across the stones.