A Passion for Watches expressed through Art

The love of watches can sometimes be so severe that its expression goes beyond just their acquisition and enjoyment on the wrist. We know this sickness well – some pick up photography in order to share the beauty that their eyes see, some take up watchmaking in order to understand movements and how they work. Then there are others, like the subject of this article, (who calls himself MS Paints), that decided to use his artistic talents to paint his favourite (and mostly unattainable) watches onto leather watch pouches.

Let’s find out more.

ISOCHRONO: This is a project that only a watch guy would do? Are you one? Tell me about your journey.

You are right, I am one.

I remember vividly how I got into the hobby: I used to debate in secondary school and my teammate and I were preparing for a round. I noticed that he had a most handsome watch on his wrist and I asked to take a look. It was a Tag Heuer Formula One and the piece was dripping with sophistication. All I can say is that it was a revelation to me that so much craftsmanship and expertise could go into a wristwatch.

The reference 6542 GMT Master, a favourite of “MS Paints”.

From then on I went deeper into the rabbit hole. I went through the “Vintage Sports Rolex Obsession” phase and I’d like to think my interest is more holistic now. I still have a soft spot for vintage sport Rolexes though and some of them remain amongst my grails (for instance the 6542 GMT Master and the Limoncello Paul Newman).

ISOCHRONO: What is the reason why you decided to paint vintage Rolex watches on the pouches?

It has to be noted that these are homages to the originals.

I had two primary inspirations. Firstly, the idea struck me as a fan of Namiki’s Maki-E fountain pens. The fact that the art wraps around something as unconventional (and uncooperative) as the barrel of a fountain pen amazes me, and the inspiration struck me that I could, in fact, paint on surfaces other than paper or canvas.

Secondly, I was inspired by Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes. That someone could have gone through all that trouble (commissioning wooden boxes, silk screening…) to recreate something was, should I say, an oblique inspiration. More directly, however, pop art in general was a big inspiration, what with the likes of Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns—the sheer irony and humour behind the genre was a powerful motivator.

ISOCHRONO: Can you expand more on the idea of pop art in relation to the pouches?

I think pop art is mistakenly looked upon as making the mundane valuable. Granted, that is one important aspect, but the primary thrust of the movement and its attractiveness (at least to me) is in the irony of elevating the mundane. Except in this case I’m making something ridiculously out-of-reach accessible—so by extension their prices are, too, a statement in and of themselves.

A Limoncello Paul Newman in progress.

ISOCHRONO: Why was it important for you to use original Rolex service pouches?

I don’t think they were “important”, they just fit within the perimeters of what I was trying to accomplish. The service pouches happened to be, firstly, the most convenient and readily accessible “canvas” on which to paint on. Secondly, having experience with them I know they are well-built and can take a beating.

That’s a real RSC (Rolex Service Centre) pouch.

Thirdly, I have a sort of personal attachment to them as I would always keep my watches in those little green RSC pouches while vacationing overseas (back when leisure travelling was safe of course).

ISOCHRONO: How do you choose what watch to paint?

I paint the watches I want the most. These are deliberately painted to be 1:1 scale to the original (with some room for creative license) so I can envision how it feels like to own one.

ISOCHRONO: What unique challenges do you face in painting the watches?

The geometry. One thing I appreciate much more in painting these watches is the geometry in watches—it hurts my back to think of the number of concentric circles I have to paint for a single watch. Moreover, the eye is least forgiving to an asymmetrical circle and so that adds an additional dimension of difficulty in my homages to the original designs.

ISOCHRONO: Are these pouches usable in daily life? Will the paint rub off?

Yes, they are definitely made for daily life. Let me explain.

Firstly, the pouches are rubbed down with a chemical solution to remove its factory varnish. This allows the paints to adhere more strongly to the surface. Secondly, the paints I use are specially formulated for use on leather. Thirdly, it is prudent to note that the natural grainy texture of the pouches inadvertently enables the paint to bond better. Lastly, after the design is completed, I seal it with several coats of an acrylic sealant.

All in all I’d say it’s pretty hardy.

ISOCHRONO: Are these for sale?

Yes they are.

ISOCHRONO: Where can I get them?

For the time being you can put your requests through ISOCHRONO. (Ed: Please send any inquiries to me at adi@isochrono.com)