How to Photograph Watches?

There are some truly interesting and yet challenging areas of product photography and today we are going to touch on a sub-section of jewellery photography, watches.

Just like other smaller products that require images for marketing and e-commerce purposes, watches often have a lot of detail that must be shown off whilst also telling a story and connecting with a brand. This requires careful planning and following some basic rules that anyone in product photography should be aware of.

Study the detail and make sure the watch is clean

The planning phase of product photography starts with studying the subject of your images and understanding what details are important, what colours are present, what materials are used and so on. For example, in the world of jewellery photography, it is common to have to work with highly reflective metals and delicate detail on a watch face.

A good way to get started is by setting the watch to 10:10 as this puts the hands into a symmetrical view, uncovering as much of the branding and detail as possible.

Once you’ve studied the detail, it is vital that you clean the watch properly with the correct equipment. Make sure you have gloves and a microfibre cloth to hand to remove dust, fingerprints and other marks before and during the shoot.

Find the right props and background

There is a good chance you will either not use a model or a mixture of models and other props to display the watch. This means you need to think carefully about the background you wish to use and in most situations with a watch, a non-reflective product photography background is a great choice.

Some fantastic options include stone, wood and fabrics but it very much depends on the subject. It may be that its design favours a reflective surface, or perhaps the branding and colours work best with a more natural wooden feel.

When telling a story in jewellery photography, you will likely have some standard e-commerce type shots and then you will want images that tell a story. This is where props come in. Explore the brand, the story behind the watch, the customer persona and then find props that add value to the subject.

Look at the lighting, reflection and composition

Once more in a product photography article, we talk about lighting and for watches, it is just as important, if not more so than other types of products. This is because the watch face is inherently reflective, often with cases that are metallic.

Take the time to explore the best type of lighting set-up for your products, backgrounds and props until you find the right option.

Due to the fact watches are relatively small, the composition is important when setting up lifestyle shots or scenes involving props and people. Make sure that you consider where you place the subject and that it still draws the attention of the viewer.


Ultimately, jewellery photography and watches, in particular, require planning, patience and practice. Do your research, understand the product and then test various setups until you find the perfect photograph.