Time+Tide photographer Kristian Dowling met his match recently when he was pitted against the Girard-Perregaux 1945 Jackpot Tourbillon in a thrilling photographic duel. The timepiece presents all kinds of complexities to shoot. It is the last Jackpot piece produced by the manufacture and retails for $903,00AUD. We spoke to KD after the intensive man vs metal experience. These were his thoughts:
Why was it so hard to shoot? Why was the front of the piece so tough in particular?
The watch is total bling and has a lot of reflective surfaces. Avoiding reflections was the biggest problem to overcome, especially when shooting the whole front of the watch-face. I was shooting it at the dealer ‘Monards’ and not in a controlled environment like a studio, using minimal equipment, so I had to improvise using a couple of lights and a white piece of paper, which was the final piece to the puzzle.
What little details about the watch impressed you?
I loved the tourbillon of course, but that’s because I’m a watch-nut. Really, what truly makes this watch unique is the ‘slot machine’ mechanism. I achieved 3 spades on my third go so I was thrilled. Shame I didn’t win anything, such as a million dollars to pay for this rare beast.
What vibe were you going for with this piece? What is the ‘story’ of this watch you wanted to tell?
I was trying to extract its personality by lighting in a way that accentuated the key features of the watch. Having a reflective watch-face didn’t help so my lighting options were limited. I guess the story is more about the movement and its rarity.
How do you go about shooting each watch uniquely?
I look at where I need to put light and shadows. I don’t like to flood my pictures with light. I love shadows and use them to draw character from a watch, the same way I shoot people. There are different challenges associated with shooting people vs watches, but my approach is still the same.
Is this the most expensive piece you’ve ever photographed?
Absolutely, but to me the uniqueness and rarity outweigh the importance of the price attached to it. Being sold in a Casino I imagine the sound of a big winner rushing from the roulette table to Monards just to pick up this piece after a big win hahaha.
What was it like to hold / try on the wrist?
I did place it against my wrist and found that it was a real solid piece of engineering. Being gold certainly adds to the weight, but it felt like a small slot machine with a watch movement attached to it. It really looks like a fun entertaining watch – one that would be a real crowd pleaser at parties.
What are the special quirks of haute horology pieces like this that present traps for young players?
Well it starts off being a grail watch – something you lust after and save for, for an extended piece of time. Then once you have it, there’s always something else. This is a cycle that not only keeps you going in circles, but keeps the watch industry alive, so I guess it’s a very good thing.