Discover the Spectacular Horological Drawings of Artist Julie Kraulis

By Rachael Sigee
Canadian artist Julie Kraulis’ MAKING TIME collection of graphite drawings recreates the intricate details of iconic timepieces in one-of-a-kind “portraits”. An exhibition of her work will be on view in Sotheby’s London galleries from 20–23 September, alongside timepieces from the 24 September Watches sale in London. Ahead of the exhibition, we spoke to Julie about her passion, her inspiration, and the work that goes into each piece.
OMEGA Speedmaster CK2998. Photo: Julie Kraulis.

Has your artwork always been so focused on attention to minute detail?

I’ve been a stop and smell the roses kind of gal all my life – enamoured by design and inspired by detail in natural and urban landscapes, in mundane and exotic environments, in tiny humble interactions and vast mind-blowing ones. Fine detail has always been a part of my work and it’s no surprise I ended up in watches as this world is ALL about detail. I have a special affinity for vintage timepieces and patina has become one of my favourite things to capture within the collection. The marks tell stories. The worn and weathered flaws of a watch make it truly interesting. Much is the same for people, I think.

Rolex Submariner 5513 'Metres First'. Photo: Julie Kraulis.

What do you like about taking such a small and compact piece of design, like a watch, and blowing it up to large scale?

Over the last few years, I’ve been intrigued by timeless design and curious to explore how something remains relevant and passionately embraced over decades, sometimes centuries. I knew I wanted to approach the MAKING TIME collection in a way that would highlight design and emphasize the magic. A mechanical watch is an incredible feat of design and engineering, creativity ticking away on the wrist. But, it’s easy to lose wonder when it comes to small objects. When you play with scale and distort the context of an everyday object, you’re able to see it with fresh eyes and a different perspective. My desire with the collection is to challenge the way you see a watch and to elicit more of that well-deserved wonder.

Why do you work in pencil, and what kind of pencil do you use?

Where do I even start?! I love graphite. The pencil has been a tool used for created things throughout history; a composer’s score, a mathematician’s proof, a writer’s canon, a watch designer’s timepiece. I love the lively shimmer of graphite that makes a drawing come to life. I love the metamorphosis that takes place; as the wood is shaved off layer by layer, the tool in hand transforms into something on a page. I love the paradoxical aspect of using one of the most basic tools to create huge, intricate pieces of work. I’ve chosen graphite for the timepiece collection because a simplified B&W palette allows you to focus on design and to see line, form and balance more clearly.

I work with Staedtler Mars Lumographs, the pencils my grandfather worked with as an engineer.

Watch Julie Drawing the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph

Which watch manufacturer or design has proven most challenging to draw?

Each timepiece has offered unique challenges and the level of difficulty can be quite deceiving. Most recently I worked on an A. Lange & Söhne Datograph featuring both the front and back sides. It was the most challenging drawing I’ve ever worked on and I walked by the blank sheet of paper dozens of times before making the first mark, completely intimidated! Capturing the incredible movement was daunting but the subtle, elegant bezel was perhaps the most difficult element to draw. One of my favourite aspects of the collection is learning to draw different textures and types of surfaces: metal, leather, carbon, brushed, shiny, reflective, absorbent, etc.

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph. Photo: Julie Kraulis

Does knowing about the provenance of a particular watch inform your final work?

Absolutely. In the preliminary stages of a piece, I read and research as much as I can about a watch. With each drawing, I like to weave details inspired by a watch’s unique history, narrative and design, as well as any personal significance a client may have.

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