Atom Moore’s Photos Said to Turn Watches Into Art

Neither of them had a particular interest in watches beyond the Swatches they owned. But that all changed in 2014 when a friend of Ms. McGivney’s, Adam Craniotes, invited them to a Midtown bar for a meetup of watch collectors known as RedBar.

“Adam invites us out, and we’re like, ‘Adam, we only have Swatches,’” Mr. Moore recalled. “And he’s like, ‘It’s totally fine, there are no snobs at RedBar.’”

When Mr. Moore and Ms. McGivney arrived, Mr. Craniotes told them to put their watches on a table. “This woman who I just met was like, ‘Oh, my God, I love Swatch,’” Mr. Moore said. “And she takes this Patek Philippe perpetual calendar off of her wrist, hands it to me, and says, ‘Let me see your Swatches.’

“This is the first time I’ve held a watch over $1,000,” he added. “And I’m like, ‘I don’t even know what I have in my hands, but it’s got diamonds on the bezel, and it’s beautiful.’ The ‘no snobs’ thing was true.” (The meetups spawned what is now RedBar Group, a global community of watch collectors; Ms. McGivney is the group’s chief executive.)

Mr. Moore started bringing a camera to RedBar events, experimenting with different lights and flashes to capture the timepieces people were sharing. Slowly, he said, he began to develop a realistic style that was a sharp contrast to the manipulated images produced by brands.

“I wanted to help people understand what the watches actually looked like,” Mr. Moore said.

As his interest in watch photography grew, so did the opportunities to photograph them. At a RedBar event in 2014, Mr. Moore recalled, James Lamdin, founder of the vintage and pre-owned watch dealer Analog:Shift (now owned by the retail chain Watches of Switzerland), asked him to shoot some timepieces for the company’s website.