Chillout TGIF: Reader contribution – @horomariobro

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Sometimes, we come across exceptional Instagram accounts, and feel compelled to share them with you. For today’s chillout session, we feature @horomariobro, an exceptional IG account.


In his words with our commentary in italics.

The jewel in the chaton with shock absorber on the glide wheel of the Credor Eichi II.

The account showcases @horomariobro’s photographs, which we are very impressed with. The pictures speak for themselves – good eye in the angles selected, excellent lighting, and very pleasing. It was even more a surprise to find out that he uses only natural lighting from an open window and his iPhone X, supplemented by two of Loupe System‘s amazing lenses. He uses the 6X and the 10X magnification models – 1 and 3. And I must say, the results he is getting is better than any I have had using the same two Loupe System models. In addition to the loupes, I also have the advantage of the Loupe System’s LED lighting system.

Patek Philippe Ref . 5196, showing the hand and the index.

What gear do you use and how do you take photos?

I am not anywhere close to a photographer so my setup is quite basic or ghetto as some people may call it. I take my macro shots using the following gear.

  • iPhone X
  • 6x and 10x loupes from Loupe System
  • Loupe system Universal Clip
  • Universal phone tripod
  • Books as the base to place the watches
Loupe System Model 03 with the light ring, owned by our Chief Editor, with the universal clip-on holder in the case. Photo by Sharon Tan.

With the above gears, I do the shooting on a table next to a big window in my room as I only take photos using natural light. The reason I only shoot with natural light is that I feel it brings out the most natural color of the watch. Moreover, like I said earlier, I am not a photographer and I use the most basic setup possible as I don’t really know either how to properly adjust camera lighting equipment. Once the setup is in place, I’d play with the watch to see how it catches the natural light and try to find the best angle for the area of the watch that I’d like to take the photo of. Since I can only use natural light, so it affects when I do the shooting either depending on the weather of the day. I try to shoot photos during cloudy days or late afternoon as the lighting is softer.

The Lange 1 Moonphase, showing the unfinished underside of the seconds hand as reflected by the moon.

6x or 10x loupe:
When I have an idea of what I’d like to shoot, I’d know exactly to pick 6x or 10x loupe. And when I don’t have any idea, I’d play with 6x and 10x loupes to see what can inspire me that day.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5712

This is an obvious point but I’d still like to share. With 6x loupe, the distance between the loupe and the watch will need to be further to get the focus where with 10x loupe, the distance will be much closer. This often presents more lighting challenges with 10x loupe, so I’ve been thinking about to get the Loupe System light ring to assist in those situations.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5711 dial detail.

I do process my photographs but not all. I try to do as little processing as possible to retain the original capture. I got into photographing watches about 2 years ago because I was inspired by seeing collector friends posting their wonderful watch photos on IG. Therefore, I take photos of my watches and process them using my iPhone as that’s the easiest way for me to post those photos on IG. I use either the iPhone photo app or IG’s photo processing features to process my photos. However, I don’t use all of those photo processing features. The features I use the most are highlight and sharpness. In addition, I use dust-removal tool like air blower to remove dust on my watches before taking photos. However, sometimes I would still find some on photos and I use an app called Retouch on iPhone to remove it.

Vianney Halter Classic, cropped for effect.

I also sometimes crop my photographs to highlight how I want to present the watches. It’s interesting to me that I find myself often spending quite some time to figure out how to best present the watches by cropping them in different ways.

How long have you been collecting watches? What got you started in the first place? How did you progress?

I started to be more serious about collecting watches around 2011 ~ 2012. I was always fascinated by watches growing up whether they’re quartz or mechanical. I was very intrigued by how assembling various individual mechanical components can realize an abstract concept of “time” thru micro mechanical engineering innovation and artisanal craftsmanship.

Another look at the Vianney Halter Classic.

Since I was intrigued by the mechanical engineering in watches, I was more drawn by those that have an open caseback. My first more serious mechanical watch was a Zenith open dial with the El Primero movement.

The Zenith El Primero which started it all.

Then I started to expand out from there to collect pieces that speak to me in both big brands as well as independents. I am not tied to a particular brand as I believe different brands have their own unique offering based on their strengths either in technical or artisanal areas. So over time, I try to diversify my collection by collecting iconic pieces from different brands.

What aspect of watches is most important to you? Is it the complications, the history, the heritage, the mechanical wonders, or the hand finishing? Or something else?

My principles in watch collecting have two parts, tangibility and emotions.

Credor Eichi II.

The tangible part are the design of the dial needs to be simple and not overly extravagant, yet the complication of the watch can be complicated. Also, I prefer no date on the dial as I feel most dial designs with a date are more of an afterthought. One exception for me is A. Lange & Söhne where I feel the date is well designed onto the dial from the start and it’s a must-have iconic design.

I also prefer manual wind over automatic movement as I can wind my watches on a daily basis to have more bonding experiences with them. Each watch also gives different winding feel and sound. It also allows me to enjoy the unobstructed view of the movement. Last but not the least, hand finishing of a watch is very important to me. Even though hand finishing does not technically contribute to the accuracy or stability of a watch, it does express the level of artisanal craftsmanship and the passion put in by a watchmaker. To me, it’s one of the big factors that gives a soul to a watch.

Movement of the F. P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain Bleu

The emotional part are the “wow” and “happiness” factors when I see the watch for the first time and if I will still feel the same “wow” and “happiness” factor after I own it for quite some time.

The micro rotor of the Caliber 240 in the Patek Philippe Ref. 5712.

At end of the day, I enjoy the watches I collect because they make me appreciate, put a big smile on my face whenever I put them on my wrist and also bring me memories of certain milestones in my life.