I reached out here 2 years ago when I was using a lightbox for my watch photography and have come a long way (I hope). After some advice I received, I started using 2 strobe lights on either side of the watch and also use translum paper as a diffuser to spread the light evenly across the watch. I then use photoshop to insert a white background. Results are far superior than before. Now I am trying to get to the next level with my photos/editing to try and compete with the professionals (watchbox.com). 1st photo is watchbox's. 2nd and 3rd photos are mine. What can I do to achieve a similar result to watchbox photos? Any help/advice is much appreciated!

WATCHBOX's photo (the goal)

pre editing

post editing

  • \$\begingroup\$ Get/use tent to diffuse the light even further and to make it surround the object. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2023 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: B&H article on watch photography and Ming Thein's series on the basics of watch photography: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Apr 11, 2023 at 23:01

3 Answers 3


Avoid meaningless brights

The brights should give character to the photograph, never be a decorative element or even less a stain. A good exercise in creating highlights is to think of them as objects, like paint blobs. In drawing classes, one of the premises is to start from the shine towards the object, this is an easy way to give them character.

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On the left the first photo highlights/ On the right the second photo highlights

Highlight all the little details

The biggest difference I see between the blue watch photo and yours is that the first one clearly shows all the white silkscreen as if it were a vector drawing applied on top of the photo. Each fine line can be counted by pointing to it independently. In your photo, all the little details merge into brightness, shadows, and blurs.


Try to keep the flat elements with the same brightness, hue and saturation, unless the set has a special light input. In the photo, all the black elements (numbers, hands, Cartier) are made up of a wide range of grays

Emphasize color accents

I would start from the maximum saturation and regulate it from there

Maximum contrast to the corporate

Cartier and Swiss Made can never be dim/dirty gray

Forget Photoshop

At least when you take the photo. Photoshop should be a retouching tool, not the camera. The retouching in the image below, the most relevant are extracting the black channel from a CMYK image to saturate the shadows and creating a duplicate of the image in Hard Light mode with medium opacity to give greater contrast.

enter image description here


Your diffusion is too small/too far away...

The rectangular highlights are the edges of your diffusion; they should not be visible. And the other areas are reflections of the ambient environment... the only thing the watch should be reflecting/seeing is continuous diffusion.

Placing the light source/diffusion closer allows you to use a reduced power, which causes the highlights on the glass to be more transparent... i.e. truer colors/contrast show through.

Use a physically/effectively larger sheet of translum from closer to the watch. Use your lights from a greater distance to light it evenly, from closer to create gradients, or some combination (best).

Once you get that sorted you will also probably want to add negative lighting (black flags to create harder reflected shadows).



  • Check reflections (top left and bottom left of case/dial), hard to fix in post prod. Might require a polarizing filter.
  • I would expect more sharpness on hands and dial.
  • Check for dirt (rightmost screw on bottom row)
  • Bottom of button is dirty (or there is a weird reflection)


  • Don't use GIF as a format if you want quality output
  • Cut out of case at top left is incorrect (possibly some algorithm was fooled by an area of the case that is almost as bright as the background).
  • Abrasion of the band against the case (bottom right) could be edited (or not).

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