Complete guide to watch product photography with CGI in 2024

I. Introduction Watch photography goes beyond simply showcasing the product. Most people have a phone that can tell time, but they are still highly invested in acquiring a watch. They are also a fashion item,…

Complete guide to watch product photography with CGI in 2024Complete guide to watch product photography with CGI in 2024
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Watch photography goes beyond simply showcasing the product. Most people have a phone that can tell time, but they are still highly invested in acquiring a watch. They are also a fashion item, an accessory that speaks volumes about its wearer.

So, in the highly competitive watch industry, it is essential to have high-quality watch product photography. Exceptional watch images have a significant impact on brand perception, which directly influences sales. Therefore, watch product photography with CGI will mesmerize the clients, evoking a mood that will translate into higher revenue.

In this watch product photography guide, we will explore the world of watch product photography and provide you with a step-by-step approach to creating stunning visuals in 2024.

Equipment for Traditional Watch Photography

Equipment for Watch Photography
Equipment for Watch Photography

Watches have a place of their own when it comes to photography. The mixture of texture and materials from their composition, as well as their glossy surfaces and multiple facets, makes them an intimidating subject to approach even for professional photographers. So, what is the best equipment to tackle this trial?

Camera Options: DSLR, Mirrorless, or Smartphone

Well, the first and more obvious element you’ll need is a camera. Regardless of your choice, a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or your smartphone, you can take beautiful photos of your products even by yourself. Of course, using a DSLR or a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses will have advantages, as the equipment will boost your photos.

But with a few tutorials and a good smartphone camera, you can achieve the same result. You can also opt for a completely digital way of taking photos by using CGI watch photography software. This way, you can freely experiment with your 3D watch and capture only its best features.

Lens Selection for Capturing Watch Details

When it comes to capturing details, macro lenses will prove a beneficial tool to have at hand. However, they are not a requirement for taking good watch photographs. Many lenses have great focus abilities already, and you can always go physically closer to your product. Moreover, if you find yourself in need of diving into the tiniest details, you can opt for an extension tube.

With a 3D model, however, there will be limitless possibilities for zooming in and out, as well as keeping different parts of the watch in focus. So, we suggest you consider adding a CGI watch model to your future planning.

Tripods, Lighting Equipment, and Accessories

When using a 3D model for your watch, the software will provide all the necessary elements to capture the perfect image of the most significant aspect. It also allows you to customize everything inside the image, so you get unique a product photo. However, for traditional photography, you might need some additional elements aside from your camera and focus object.


Tripods are a highly efficient way to keep your camera or smartphone in place. Using a tripod, you can avoid camera shake and blur, and the photo will be stable and clear. A tripod is also a great advantage for close-up shots.


Another essential aspect of watch photography is lighting. The right lighting is crucial for beautiful or dramatic images. It’s best to use diffused light to avoid harsh edges. And for that, you need diffusers. A window without direct sunlight is suitable, as is a cloudy day. If, however, natural conditions are not enough for your shots, you can use white papers and foam cores to obtain the same effect.

Other Accessories

Each watch has a unique ‘personality’ because it was created with a specific goal in mind. Therefore, remember that the decor and accessories in your photoshoot should be different depending on the type of watch you are photographing. For example, a diver’s watch, a pilot’s watch, and a watch for an elegant event with a suit and tie require different props.

Preparing for a Watch Photoshoot

Preparing for a Watch Photoshoot - Watch photography setup
Preparing for a Watch Photoshoot

Before you star the photoshoot proper, first you’ll have to prepare the watch. There are two different elements that you should consider: the physical cleaning of the watch and the setup for the shooting. Let’s take them one by one.

Cleaning and Preparing the Watches for Photography

The first step in preparing the watch is to clean it up thoroughly. Wear protective gloves, so you won’t create fingerprints, and clean it with a microfiber cloth. Dust and fingerprints are hard to see with the naked eye, but they will show up in photos. Also, if there are hard-to-reach spots, or tiny gaps you find difficult to access, use a cotton bud. If you happen to miss a spot the first time, you can always edit it up in the post-production process.

Additionally, another point to consider when preparing the watch is setting the time. Set the hands to 10:10. This time is the universally agreed upon time, as the hands form an aesthetically pleasing shape, and they allow the logo to shine. Moreover, while cleaning it and preparing it, try to look a particular element you wish to enhance. This way you’ll make your preparation easier, as you’ll already know what to focus on.

Understanding the Watch’s Features and Unique Selling Points

Going right after deciding on a focus, understanding what makes each watch unique will help you set up the photography plan. You can always search for a watch product photography guide and get inspiration from there, but we suggest you focus on your product and find something unique to it. Maybe it has a special inscription worth mentioning in your photos, or maybe the band has a unique model.

You can even opt for a CGI watch photography model to make sure you capture all the particular features of your product. By employing a 3D model, not only will you be able to switch up the angles as you wish, but you’ll also be able to see how each unique element appears differently when placed in different conditions

Lighting Techniques for Watch Photography

Lighting Techniques for Watch Photography
Lighting Techniques for Watch Photography

Till now, we’ve discussed the preparation required before you begin the photoshoot. From now on, we’ll delve deeper into the shooting proper, and we’ll explore together the meaning of good lighting techniques and how you can put them to good use for your products. You can do them by yourself, at home, or in a studio, or you can employ the help of 3D professionals to ease your job. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Utilizing Natural Light for Soft and Even Lighting

The first lighting you should try to use is the natural light. It’s best if you can catch the early morning rays or if you get outdoors during a cloudy day. In these conditions, the light is soft and helps avoid shadows. Additionally, while using the natural light, try to get it to spread evenly on the watch. If the shade is too persistent, you can use an aluminum foil to help bounce the light back.

Studio Lighting Setups: Key, Fill, and Accent Lights

A professional lighting studio will be better equipped to handle a watch photoshoot. Similar to how jewelry is photographed, a watch photograph should include at least three to four lights. One light should be placed in front of the product, one behind it, and a third one from above if needed. You can use the fourth light to create different accents on the product. For example, if the watch has a diamond-filled rim, a picolite light will help enhance the natural light diamonds reflect so the image will be shinier.

Controlling Reflections and Glare for Optimal Results

Watches tend to reflect any light that comes in contact with them. Whether the glass is flat or round, it will reflect even the smallest beam of light, causing glare. This should be avoided as much as possible, as it affects the amount of time it takes to correct in post-processing. While this can be fixed and corrected, in CGI watch photography, the process is finished with minimal effort.

Since the 3D model is a perfect replica of the watch, you can freely experiment with lighting in the digital space and see how it would look in real life. You can add more lights, subtract, or move them to create unique images that would, otherwise, take a lot of time and money to recreate traditionally. This way you have complete control over reflections and glare and see perfect results within minutes.

Composition and Styling Tips

Composition and Styling Tips
Composition and Styling Tips

Different types of watches need different styling and composition. Watches for men are portrayed differently than those for women, while watches for jobs – diver watches or pilot watches – are more focused on the mood they evoke. However, certain elements remain the same, regardless of the type of product you are photographing.

Rule of Thirds and Other Composition Techniques

Although there are multiple composition techniques and rules you can apply to your photo shoot, depending on your subject, in this section, we’ll talk about the most commonly used ones, especially for watch photography.

What is the Rule of Thirds, and Why Should You use it?

The rule of thirds is nothing complex or overly complicated. It talks about how the composition is “cut” with three imaginary lines – three horizontal and three vertical. The crisscross on the left side or the right side is where you should place your subject to create a visually pleasing image. By placing the subject on a third of the image, you leave the other two-thirds open for more interesting elements, guiding the viewer’s eyes to the main subject – in this case, a watch.

Why should you use this technique? Well, because it comes with several advantages like:

  • Photographic composition that draws the viewer in.
  • It helps balance the main subject with the negative space.
  • It makes the subject stand out more.
  • It adds depth and creates an impactful visual story.

Especially when you plan on convincing your audience of the quality of your products, their images should be professionally taken, so your customers will want to purchase your product. The rule of thirds helps place the watch in an artistic pose meant to draw more attention to it. Of course, you can always break the rules and experiment with other techniques. And this is where our next hint comes in.

Other Composition Techniques

Experiment with different angles and techniques to set the scene for your watch. In addition to the rule of thirds, you can use the following methods.

  • Fill in the frame – although this technique is mostly used for portraits, it can also be used for watches. Try to find the most important or relevant feature of your watch and use it as the main subject by zooming in and filling the entire frame.
  • Pull back from the subject – sometimes your subject will be more interesting if you give it room to “breathe”. Especially if the items are small, such as watches or jewelry, it is best to place them right in the center.
  • Z-shaped composition – When you read something, you tend to do so in a “Z” shaped pattern. It comes naturally to most of us, including your clients. If you use the same method when planning and composing your watch photography, your audience will already have a familiar feeling and be more attracted to the watch.
  • The rule of the room – while it resembles the second technique we described, this one is somewhat different. This technique focuses more on how to use space to balance the watch. For example, you can enlarge the watch on half of the image while leaving the other half with a neutral background. This way, the focus is on the watch.
  • Break up the pattern – use the background and props to your advantage. Set them up in a regular pattern, and let the watch be the element that “breaks” the pattern. This will draw the focus to the watch.

You can use other, different, techniques for different types of watches, so it is best to experiment with them and see which one fits best. While it can be time-consuming and costly to do this the traditional way, as more expensive elements may be needed for the photo shoot, you can easily do this with CGI watch photography software. It’s cheaper than a new photoshoot and offers you flexibility in changing watches and techniques.

Showcasing watch straps and dials effectively
Showcasing watch straps and dials effectively

Showcasing Watch Straps and Dials Effectively

When it comes to watches, showcasing them includes more elements than just hands, hour markers, or minute details. The straps and dials are also crucial parts. Displaying them, on the other hand, might prove a challenge without a few elements in mind.

Firstly, there are three types of images if you wish to accentuate the straps. You can opt for the “catalog” image, where a black or white background will work. Or, you can use the “staged” image, with elements in the background, and the focus on the watch. Or, you can opt for the “wrist” image, when the watch is worn by a model. Secondly, depending on the type of image and the type of strap the watch has, you can go for a more colorful approach, if the strap is also colorful, or, for a mature vibe, for straps that are made of leather and have sober coloration.

For dials, however, the focus should be on how to make the crystal less reflective, thus allowing for a clear shot of it. Also, remember that you can shift the focus to the dial by coordinating it with the backgrounds and props. If, for example, the strap is silver, but the dial is royal blue, you can use blue elements in the background to make the silver strap stand out and draw attention to the dial.

Utilizing Props and Backgrounds to enhance the Visual Appeal

Watches make for stubborn photography subjects – they refuse to stay straight on their own. Thus, they require help from props. The most crucial part when selecting backgrounds and props for your watch photography, be it traditional or CGI, is to remember the audience. Who is the watch for?

For example, for male watches, the backgrounds should contain “masculine” elements such as weathered wood, slate, metallic details, etc. When it comes to women’s watches, however, “feminine” props like silk, furry textures, petals, leaves, beautiful books, notebooks, or even purses, work best.

Additionally, you can always have a model wear the watches and pose with them to enhance their visual aspects. Or, if you think this will raise the budget too much, you can experiment with a CGI watch photography session. Since everything is created on the computer, there are no supplementary costs involved.

Capturing Watch Details: Macro Photography

Macro Photography
Macro Photography

To be able to capture all the miniature details a watch entails, there are two ways in which you can go about it. The first one is to use CGI watch photography software, which replicates the watch digitally and allows you to get as close as you want. It’s cost-efficient, budget-friendly, and easy to obtain if you speak with professionals. Or, you can opt for the second method and use the traditional way – by using macro photography.

Importance of Macro Photography for Highlighting Intricate Details

Regardless of your choice, macro photography is essential to provide your customers with the best shots of your products. As the market is highly competitive, a skillful macro image can do wonders for your business.

But let’s start from the beginning. What is macro photography? It’s a photography style that uses a macro lens to capture minute details of the subject. A macro lens is a special lens optically crafted to handle extraordinarily close-up focus. Therefore, you can always portray the most captivating details of the watch design. This plays a crucial role in persuading customers to purchase the product, increasing the possibility of acquisition.

Choosing the Appropriate Macro Lens for Close-up Shots

Usually, macro lenses come with different magnification ratios, the most common ones being 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3. They are perfect for capturing close-up shots of the highest qualities. However, if you wish to go even deeper in detail, you can opt for lenses with a 5:1 ratio. Even so, be aware that the higher the magnification ratio, the more expensive the lens is.

Also, you can achieve the same magnification through CGI watch photography, as the software will allow you to go as close to the object as possible. If you still wish to acquire macro lenses, however, make sure they offer at least a magnification ratio of 1:1.

Techniques for achieving Sharp Focus and Depth of Field

Let’s say you already have a macro lens, and you wish to improve the focus and depth of field. To do this, you have to pay attention to the following elements.

  1. Keep the working distance optimal. Macro lenses already have high magnification in their construction, so you won’t have to stick to the subject to capture it. It’s better to keep a minimum distance of at least 15 cm from the subject if you wish to enhance the sharpness of the picture.
  2. Keep the subject in focus. It’s easy to lose the subject from focus since even the smallest gesture will change the focal point. So, instead, set the focus at a fixed magnification and move the camera forward or backward according to your needs.
  3. Light it up. The best way to sharpen the focus is by using a powerful light source followed by a diffuser. This way, you can make sure no detail escapes the photo.
  4. Increase the depth of field by using focus stacking.
  5. Another means of increasing the depth of field is by lowering the aperture, but this will come with reduced sharpness, so be aware.

Post-Processing and Editing


Once you’ve taken the photo, it’s time to go into post-processing and editing. What these techniques do is that they help you bring out the best features in your photos. These actions are responsible for the crisp, highly detailed, and perfect watch photography you see. This is why customers are inclined to buy one product more than another.

Selecting the Right Software for Editing Watch Images

When editing your watch images, you’ll need software that can aid you in the process. Although the most frequently used ones are those provided by Adobe – Photoshop and Lightroom – there are also several other software image editors available online. Regardless of which software you use, remember that it should have at least the following functions available.

  • General features like tagging, lens correction, layer editing, RAW editing, and AI-enabled tools, are a must.
  • It should not affect your computer’s speed.
  • It should also include crop, adjusting colors, size, and depth functions.

Adjusting Exposure, Color, and Contrast for a Polished Look

Once you’ve decided on the software, it’s time to edit. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to copy your image, to make sure you have it as backup in case you wish to return to it. Then, once your copy is ready, you can begin by adjusting the exposure and contrast.

You’ll want to make sure there are no white hues on the watch, and the darkness is enough for contrast. An overexposed picture will have pale colors and shadows, whereas an underexposed one will be too dark to distinguish the watch. Therefore, you should adjust both exposure and contrast to reach a balanced combination.

Color editing is also essential for your watch photography. Adjusting the vibrancy and saturation will work best if you want to enhance a particular aspect of the watch. On the one hand, vibrancy increases the color intensity in neutral tones, maintaining the intensity in brighter colors. Saturation, on the other hand, makes all colors more intense.

Retouching and Enhancing Watch Details as needed

Lastly, you want to pay attention to spot cleaning and dust removal. Even though you are careful when shooting the image, dust will find a way to sneak into the picture. This is where editing comes in handy.

For traditional photoshoots, this entire process may take a long time, but for CGI watch photography, there’s no need for it. The 3D model is digital, thus safe from external elements like dust or fingerprints. Using a CGI watch, you save time and money.

Creative Approaches in Watch Photography

Creative Approaches in Watch Photography
Creative Approaches in Watch Photography

In this watch product photography guide, we’ll also talk about how you can put your creativity to use and obtain beautiful images for your product. Especially if you wish to have diverse shots, each featuring different elements from your watch, it’s best to plan and take advantage of the following tips.

Explore different Angles and Perspectives for Unique Shots

Put your creativity to use and obtain unique shots with different angles. Sure, a frontal shot of the watch is fundamental. But so is, for example, a macro image of the crystal captured from the sides, showcasing its shape and form. Or, the watch model you want to display has an interesting inscription or symbol on the crown, in which case you should include a picture of it, as well.

When you add different angles and perspectives to your watch photography, not only will you obtain beautiful shots, but you will also help your clients better understand the product. Remember that your main goal is to have your clients make a purchase. To do so, you should tell a convincing story through your images and gain their trust.

For example, using a 3D, CGI-generated watch model can help you immensely in this aspect. You can rotate it 360°, go closer to it, and discover new methods to highlight its unique selling points. Additionally, if you decide to add it to your website, your clients will benefit from the same flexibility, as well.

Use Reflections and Shadows to add Depth and Visual Interest

Although reflections are hard to deal with, especially for watch or jewelry photography, if done professionally, they can add value and visual interest to your products. You want to remember that the reflected element should be the diffused light instead of you, your camera, or the background. Also, you can use it to create mystery by showing part of your watch and hiding the other part under a reflection.

Shadows also have a substantial role in creating visual interest. They also add mystery to your images, especially if you’re displaying a watch with darker tones. You can add a diffuse light that illuminates the bezel, for example, and a deep shadow that partially covers the rest of the watch. This way, you’ll have only your selected element pop up, bringing the audience’s attention to it.

Create Lifestyle Shots to showcase the Watch in Context

One of the best ways to connect with your audience is to provide lifestyle shots of your products. These shots are beautiful and offer a sense of familiarity and belonging. “Wrist” shots are a great example of such shots, as they show your clients how the watch would look on a wrist, helping them imagine the product on their wrist.

You can also use different lifestyle props to create that same mood around the watch. Bring into your background elements that go well with the watch style, colors, and texture. For example, if you want to showcase the ‘strength’ of the watch, bring elements that symbolize that – steel or stones, ropes, chains, or other metallic elements. For a lifestyle shot, you can also hire models to wear the watches. These images also help your customers connect with your brand and products, resulting in a higher trust between you.

Building a Watch Photography Portfolio

Building a Watch Photography Portfolio
Building a Watch Photography Portfolio

You’ve got the watch images ready to go, and you want to showcase them to your customers. How do you do that? By building a portfolio. It can either be a digital one or a physical one, but we recommend using a digital one. After deciding to build a portfolio, what is the next step? Well, continue reading, and you’ll find out.

Select the best Images for your Portfolio

You already have the watch photography images that you plan on adding to your display. But should all of them be included? Carefully select only the best images of your watch by planning how your portfolio would look like. The selection should be diverse yet cohesive.

If you plan and use a CGI watch photography session, you can easily customize each shot to fit perfectly into your plan. Even more, they will have the same “feeling” about them, resulting in a cohesive visual experience for your customers.

Showcase Versatility and Range in Watch Photography

A sure way to display versatility and range through your photos is to create a layout. Consider how many watches you have, how you want to show them, and how you can present them most attractively to your customers. Always keep in mind your audience.

To make your portfolio more organized, you can divide it into different categories. For instance, you could have a section for men’s watches, where you can showcase each watch individually. Similarly, you could have a separate section for women’s watches, and another one for ‘working’ watches like diver’s or pilot’s watches. This way, your portfolio will be more structured and easier to navigate.

Highlight Collaborations and Client Projects

Collaborations are perfect for adding diversity to your portfolio. They help you present another part of your products and instill a sense of community and safety in your audience. Moreover, adding client projects offers fresh content and perspectives and adds credibility to your brand – elements of utmost relevance for an online business

Watch Photography for E-commerce and Marketing

Watch Photography for E-commerce and Marketing
Watch Photography for E-commerce and Marketing

When it comes to e-commerce and marketing, the approach changes. While you may showcase crisp, detailed, and beautifully crafted images in your portfolio, the same quality needs to be presented in a more ‘marketing’ context. This means that you should display the watches in a way that captivates your audience and motivates them to make a purchase.

Optimizing Images for Online Stores and Websites

Adding images to your online store is a crucial step, but it’s equally important to optimize them. You should ensure that the thumbnails are clear and explicit and that the other angles or images have no negative impact on the website. Slow loading time can drive away potential clients, which you want to avoid.

To maximize the benefits of your images, make sure to describe them in the caption and alt text. This will help Google recognize and categorize your images correctly, leading to better visibility for your website. A well-optimized website with high-quality images can also help improve your SEO ranking, so it’s worth the effort.

Creating compelling Visuals for Social Media Campaigns

Keep in mind that the market is highly competitive, so you want to be able to stand out from the rest and attract more customers. To do that, you have to make sure your visuals are of the highest quality possible. Speak with your marketing team and find out what the trends are. Set a tone for a campaign and add the images that best suit it and the targeted audience.

A/B Testing and Analyzing the Impact of different Visuals

It’s important to understand that personal preferences vary, and what may be an appealing watch photo for you may not be the same for your customers. To ensure your product reaches a broader audience, it’s a good idea to start A/B testing and analyze how different visual presentations affect sales. Work with your marketing team to design different image styles and test which image performs better. At the end of the tests, you’ll find that one style works best, or with a bit of luck, both styles will give good results.

Watch Product Photography with CGI

That way, you’ll know what kind of images your audience expects from you, and you can create the next series the same way. Also, if you choose CGI watch photography, your workload will be reduced since you can easily change the style of the image without having to go through the lengthy photo shoot again.

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To sum up, this guide on watch product photography provides a comprehensive roadmap to create exceptional visuals. By following the step-by-step approach and incorporating the techniques and tips provided, you will be able to enhance your watch photography skills.

This, in turn, will help you attract clients and make a lasting impression in the watch industry. Remember, paying attention to detail, being creative, and having a thorough understanding of the specific needs of watch brands and clients are crucial in producing compelling and visually stunning images.


Why should I use CGI for my e-commerce?

Creating a 3D model of your products will provide you with several benefits. These include a more time-efficient method to obtain beautiful, high-quality images of your products without sacrificing budget, as well as a versatile way to advertise. Moreover, a CGI model will provide your customers with high, accurate, details of your product, earning their trust and driving them towards a successful purchase.

Is it cheaper to use CGI than traditional photography?

CGI can be a cost-effective alternative to creating physical scenes from scratch, especially when fine scene details may not be easily discernible to the viewers. Using CGI can help in quickly producing visually accurate scenes for the audience to enjoy.

What type of lighting works best for watch photography?

Watches have highly reflective surfaces, therefore, it’s best to use a diffused light when shooting a watch. It can be a natural light or an artificial light equipped with a diffuser.

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Martin Pitonak

Martin Pitonak is a creative professional and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the creative industry. His passion for helping businesses in all areas of visual marketing sets him apart in a variety…