19 May A Quick Look At One Hour Watch
Following on from the last piece in this series, in which I took a look at Ad Patina, I’ve decided to keep with the theme of horological art. Therefore, for this edition of “A Quick Look At…” I’m taking a look at Lee Yuen-Rapati of One Hour Watch on Instagram.
Lee is a designer from Canada, who now lives in London. Whilst his drawings are what we’ll be focusing on today, he actually holds a Master’s degree in typeface design, and has created a couple of fonts for use on watches. This in itself is pretty cool. Typefaces are often overlooked in watch design, but are nonetheless crucial elements. Just ask some disillusioned Christopher Ward fans…
Of course the other side of Lee’s creativity are his drawings. As his Insta handle would suggest, Lee is an artist that creates drawings of watches in an hour or less. The great thing about Lee’s work is that he doesn’t just draw watches. His work varies from sketches of iconic pieces, to more abstract illustrations that might focus on a particular design aspect of a watch.
Intrigued by Lee’s art, I reached out to him to see if he’d answer a few questions and he was kind enough to answer them below!
Watches are a fairly niche subject in art, so why the focus on them?
I’ve been interested in watches for a few years now. As with a lot of people, I’m drawn to both the aesthetics of watches, and the manufacturing/crafting process. I started One Hour Watch back in 2014 to both practice my drawing skills and learn more about watch design. As you can guess from the name, the project involves me creating a new drawing of a watch each day in an hour or less. I’m currently up to over 1,700 drawings since I started One Hour Watch!
Obviously, you’ve drawn quite a few famous & popular watches. Is there a model whose art proves more popular than all the others?
The majority of my drawings are my own original designs, but I also do caricatures or cartoons of iconic watches. My Wednesday drawings tend to focus on the icons. The Speedmaster is by far the most featured watch in this series. There’s so much history and enthusiasm behind a Speedy that there are always more ideas for drawings.
Do you own or collect watches yourself? Or are they simply a subject for your art?
I would say I’m more of an enthusiast than a collector (at least for now). I do have aspirations to own a few pieces (mostly vintage) and I would also like to work in the industry in a creative capacity. In terms of my collection, I don’t own too many watches at the moment. I’ve got a couple vintage watches from the 40’s and 50’s and a Seiko SKX.
Have any of the brands whose watches you’ve drawn acknowledged your work? If so, what did they think?
The independents are far more receptive when featured. I’m happy to say they have all been pretty enthusiastic so far. I’ve done commissions for a few micro brands as well but the highlight so far are the illustrations I did for Roger Smith. There’s an article on Roger’s website that goes into our collaboration in a bit of detail, and it’s worth checking out.
In my opinion Lee has a great talent. It’s one thing to draw watches, it’s quite another to come up with a unique watch design and draw it in less than an hour. Plus his designs are superb. Scrolling through his Insta feed, I can’t help but wonder why he hasn’t launched his own brand yet. With a background like his he could put out some seriously killer original pieces. Anyway, as you can guess from my wishful thinking, I thoroughly recommend following Lee on Instagram. His art offers a refreshing change from constant shots of Speedys and Subs, and it’s nice to see a steady stream of what you could call “horological concept art”.
If you’re interested in having Lee create your own unique drawing, he’s taking on commissions right now. A drawing generally takes about a week to complete once the concept and design is finalised, which isn’t too shabby for a piece of original artwork if you ask me!
If you wish to get in touch with Lee regarding his artwork and rates, you can contact him via his website: watchtype.net
Follow One Hour Watch on Instagram here.