Editor’s Note: Some time ago, we ran a special edition of the Wind Down (as we are wont to do), which ran through the dos and don’ts of wristshots. Turns out this was actually a very useful and informative post, so we thought it was worth giving it some time in the ‘How To’ sun. So read on for the first steps in mastering the fine and subtle art of the perfect wristshot.
Every job has its quirks. Every industry has its niche skills. In watch journalism – or watch appreciation in general – perhaps one of the most crucial, and least transferrable, of these skills is the seemingly simple wristshot. You’ve all seen them, and likely taken more than a few yourself. If that’s the case you’ll have realised that taking the perfect ‘wristie’ (a contraction of “wristwatch selfie”– geddit?) isn’t as easy as it looks. So today we’re going to discover what you need to do to take the perfect wristshot, with the help of some of the world’s leading watch writers. Your Instagram followers will thank you. But one small caveat. Don’t blame us if things get weird when you’re taking them. It turns out, like in all art, you have to suffer a little for the perfect outcome.
It’s all in the wrist – we ask the experts
Tim Barber, the erudite watch editor for the Telegraph, has some very firm views as to what constitutes a proper wristie: “Sleeve rolled DOWN. Avoid Insta filters. No to reams of gross bracelets, naff Hermes belts etc. Yes to a smart, well-made shirt cuff, something that’s all too rare in my case”. Mr Barber also went so far as to share his personal fitness routine, guaranteed to turn puny wrists into mighty slabs of watch-wearing muscle, capable of rocking even the largest Panerai with ease.
Fellow Brit and the well-dressed man behind Bexsonn, Christopher Beccan asserts that the safest option is for the sleeve to always be rolled down, with “little to no skin between the cuff and watch”. But if you’re particularly confident in your wrist skills (or have been following Barber’s patented exercise regime), you could be a bit more adventurous. “If you can get away with a sleeveless watch shot – do it.”
Our own vintage expert Derek Dier is a veteran wrist-snapper and has a handy technical tip, suggesting that using a simple piece of black or grey paper to block out reflections is essential for getting the perfect shot on those tricky glossy black dials or highly domed crystals. Unless you have three hands this might require a friend on camera/reflection-blocking duty.
Many people we spoke to also raised the issue of wrist hair, and acceptable levels thereof. And while several journalists alluded to at least one well-known blogger who has buckled under the pressure of punitive wrist beauty standards and regularly shaves his, most agreed that the best approach to wrist hair is to keep it natural.
One name came up again and again in our extensive polling of industry-leading professional wristie models. Miguel Seabra, editor of Espiral do Tempo and the unofficial ‘King of the Wrist Shot’ – a man known to risk life and wrist in pursuit of the perfect picture. We asked Seabra for his words of wisdom:
“I started taking wristshots over 20 years ago, purely as a memory aid – so I could remember which watches I’d seen, and what they looked like on the wrist. Then I’d start using them online, and now on social media. The importance of wristshots has skyrocketed with Facebook and Instagram. How do I take a good wristshot? Well, practice makes perfect. For me it’s all about the angle of the wrist and the hand, and avoiding the ‘pizza’ effect of flattening the watch – try shooting on a bit of an angle. It’s also important to never rush, take your time to find the right background, focus and edit before you post. I don’t like to wear bracelet or jewellery, but that’s a matter of taste. I write about tennis and watches, so I try to combine the two; Stan Wawrinka sends me pictures of his Royal Oak Offshore, and French veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu sent me a couple with a Lange 1 Moon Phase and a JLC Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire – he was indecisive.”
And if you’re interested in the evolution of the wristie, we’d highly recommend Quill & Pad’s exploration of the art-form, from origins to Instagram.
Taking it to the next level – boats, babes and ballers
Once you’ve worked out how to make your wristshot look better than a hairy blob of flesh with a very nice watch strapped to it you’ll be tempted to take it to the next level. Perhaps adding a touch of colour and texture with some bracelets, or perhaps adding a providing a glimpse into your baller lifestyle – like that lived by @wristi. Or you could go the @fremstar route, and develop your own unique style of shot that may become a bone fide sub genre in its own right, which in his case is the virtually trademarked #fremstarpoint. The sky’s the limit (as long as there’s a wrist with a watch on it somewhere).
At the end of the day, the best wristshots do two things. They show what the watch looks like on the wrist and, more importantly, they tell a story and give a sense of place. So what are you waiting for, why don’t you go snap a quick wristie right now?
Andy Green’s 5 point plan
In the Time+Tide office, Andy Green has developed the most distinctive style of wristie, blending coffee, clothes and watches. Here we present his five simple steps to taking better wristshots.
1: Good natural lighting, but manage glare and shadows. Take your picture in the car or under a café awning.
2: Context. Where was it taken? What shoes were you wearing? What sort of single-origin coffee were you drinking?
3: Supercars. Impress your friends by taking a photo in front of an expensive car. Don’t worry if it’s not yours.
4: It takes two to tango. The best wristshots are often taken by long suffering friends/girlfriends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
5: Focus. Unless you’re very advanced, it’s always best to keep the dial crisp.