Heartbeat Cameras by Kwanghun Hyun


by Bellamy /

3 min read

Heartbeat Cameras by Kwanghun Hyun
A month or so back there was a feature on Petapixel about a Korean artist who was making his own cameras from watch movements. I was immediately stuck by how beautiful and intricate they were. So I decided I wanted to know what made this craftsman tick (groan). Kawnghun was kind enough to answer my questions and share his thoughts with us. Please bear in mind that English is not his first language, so the answers may not be as intricate as his contraptions, but the feeling is there.

First of all, welcome to JCH, please tell us about yourself

My name is Kwanghun. I’m an artist and metal craftsman. When I was college, my major was ‘Metal Art & Design’. I liked mechanical movement and enjoyed making things from metal. I also like to take pictures, this is my number one hobby.
Now I am working my studio. Studio name is ‘studio3Hands’. 3Hands is my nickname in internet. I am also working in the college as an adjunct professor.

How did you come up with the idea to match watches with pinhole cameras? Why do something so complicated?

I had made a lot of pinhole cameras, which I used to take pictures. The exposure times for pinhole cameras are very long, so you have to close the shutter manually. But I would often forget to close the shutter. So I was contemplating making a mechanism which makes sure the shutter is automatically closed.

Generally how long does it take to make one of these camera/watch hybrids?

Each one takes about a month to make.

Do you have any plans to make more of these? Is there something special that you are working on?

I am going to make more pieces for the Heartbeat Series. I want to try to make a watch movement with more functions. For example, to adjust the aperture or ring the bell indicating the elapsed time.

These cameras are a passion for you, do you shoot with them too?

I often take pictures with the cameras I have made. But, I have now sold Heartbeat I, and I am currently repairing Heartbeat II after I found a problem.
I will make more cameras for me. But these days I do not have much time to take pictures. Because all my free time is taken up making cameras.

What would be your dream machine to make?

I want to make the most beautiful camera in the world.

Anything else you would like to share with JCH?

I don’t only make cameras. I also make lights which use camera lenses to create effects.

I would like to say a big thank you to Kwanghun for taking the time to answer my questions and share his amazing work with us. I would love to have one of these curiosities, they are stunning.

If you would like to see more of his work and current projects you can check out his site:
Make sure you do, as there are some pretty cool camera hacks on there.

Please remember that the images are reproduced with the kind permission of Kwanghun Hyun and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

Remember to comment and get yourself some camera karma.

14 comments on “Heartbeat Cameras by Kwanghun Hyun”

    jenquest July 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm / Reply

    I’m speechless. These are so beautiful. Congratulations.

    SilverChrome7 July 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm / Reply

    Such beautiful and absolutely amazing work!

    stanis riccadonna zolczynski July 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm / Reply

    Simply beautiful, Kuanghun. It made me to think about Jaeger LeCoultre Compass camera.

    stanis riccadonna zolczynski July 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm / Reply

    By the way, I like most the idea with the watch movement visible protected by the glass of course.

      stanis riccadonna zolczynski July 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm /

      Oh, I forgot one thing. The visible part should be the back one, as in many watches with transparent cover, thus showing all clearly the flywheel, the spring and the rest in works.

    Sapphire St. July 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm / Reply

    My heart just skipped a beat

    Andy July 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm / Reply

    His craftwork reminds of the kind of thing my dad had to make as an apprentice toolmaker fifty years ago long before CAD and CNC.

    Antoine R.T. July 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm / Reply

    I’m at a loss for words, this is out of this world. I love the lamps too, is that a Jupiter-8 on the left ?

    Philipp Ulrich July 3, 2013 at 10:57 pm / Reply

    My two passions photography and artistic watchmaking in one object. I’d spend way too much money on one of these!

    Erie Saarinen July 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm / Reply

    Breathtaking little marvels. I would love to try one.

    Francois Gaboury July 4, 2013 at 10:46 am / Reply


    Kirsten March 23, 2014 at 10:08 am / Reply

    Those cameras are truly beautiful.

    Mark Brumell March 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm / Reply

    What an interesting fellow, superb craftmanship.
    Excpetional attention to detail.
    Oh the beauty in analogue, in this ubiquitous, digital world.

    Shane August 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm / Reply

    These are absolutely amazing!

    Looking forward to seeing this “most beautiful camera in the world” – I’m sure he’s more than capable of it.

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