I recently picked up the Seiko 5 Sports SRPE61 automatic watch, AKA the DressKX to watch aficionados. This is my first (but probably not last) automatic mechanical watch, and the first true watch I have worn in almost 20 years. I swore off watches as superfluous when I got my first cell phone in 2003-why do I need to wear a watch when I can simply check the time on the phone in my pocket? This was, of course, before the age of smartphones, and though I now look back on this as a foolish sentiment, maybe it made more sense before we were in the always-connected world of 2021.
If you are not well-versed in the world of watches (as I was not until a couple of months ago), mechanical watches are powered by the energy stored in a wound spring; the term “automatic” means that the watch is wound automatically by the movement of wearing it on the wrist. The spring is visible in the photo below; I managed to freeze the spinning balance wheel underneath the spring with the flash. The purple jewels act as frictionless bearings for the moving parts within the watch movement.
The Seiko 5 “DressKX” is a dressy sports watch that features diver-inspired hands and indices on a classic sunburst dial. The watch is reminiscent of the entry-level luxury Tudor Black Bay 36 watch, and I love the mix of styling that allows this watch to serve as an everyday watch for all occasions with a simple change of the wrist strap.
As I began researching to decide which watch to buy, I discovered the world of watch-collector YouTubers and the truly first-rate photography and videography skills of many of these creators. As a photographer, I of course wanted to try to get some good macro shots of my watch as soon as it arrived. All of these images (except the final image of the glowing watch face) were captured using a two-flash setup with one flash mounted on the camera and the other off to the right of the camera. The off-camera flash was angled slightly off vertical with the white reflector card pulled out to direct a little bit of light directly at the watch. It took quite a bit of trial and error, but I’m happy with the results, especially after seeing some of the ridiculously elaborate lighting setups that are demonstrated in many of the watch and product photography tutorials on YouTube.
One of my favorite features of the Seiko 5 line is the glass case back that allows you to see the movement of the watch in action. The large self-winding rotor covers up a lot of the inner workings, but there’s still enough of the mechanicals visible to make it interesting. I learned that manual focus of the macro lens is the key to getting a sharp photo of the mechanicals.
The last image is the “lume shot.” This was the easiest photo to capture-I just took the watch out in the sunlight for a few minutes, then turned out the lights and snapped a couple of photos. At 1/4-second, there is a little bit of blur in the second hand (I decided not to stop the watch for any of the photos), but otherwise I thought this image turned out great.
All of these photos were captured with the Minolta A-mount 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens paired with the Sony a6500 using the LA-EA-4 adapter. This lens is possibly the best lens I own and one of my favorite vintage lenses to use with my Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras.