Mr Jones Watches


Written by Hatti Whitman
Photos and illustrations by Mr Jones
04 Wednesday 04th January 2012

Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be designing watches?

My background is in Sculpture and I have a Masters degree in Computer Related Design. My interest in watches was originally because they’re quite an old technology that is still in general use and especially because they are a wearable technology - something which is very unusual. It’s incredibly difficult to convince people to strap a piece of technology on their bodies. Coupled with this, watches are kind of male jewellery - they’re loaded with symbolism and expressions of personal taste and wealth. For all these reasons they seemed an interesting object to explore. I produced a series of seven one-off watches back in 2005, each of which was kind of questioning in a different way the role of the watch or the way that the time was represented. This series became the genesis of first (production) series of Mr Jones Watches in 2007.

The Last Laugh

What would you say are the key inspirations behind your designs?

It varies - partly I’m interested in the watch as a symbol of mortality, a memento mori. Memento mori (objects designed to remind us that life is brief) reoccur throughout history, although they had a more or less overt religious connotation in the past. I felt it was interesting to produce contemporary memento mori; for example The Accurate has an hour hand that reads “remember” and a minute hand that says “you will die”, and The Last Laugh has the time displayed on a skull’s teeth. Although both of these seem quite uncommercial propositions they are amongst our best-selling models.

Average Day & Cyclops Summer Nights

I’m also interested in how time relates to our lives. For example, Cyclops is a watch that’s designed to tell the time on a more human scale (rather than a machine scale). The watch doesn’t have a seconds or minute hand, you read the time on the single hour hand, which is a hoop. You can’t read the time with the level of detail to say that it’s 12:17 and 39 seconds, but then we don’t really need the time on this level - we need to know that it’s about half past or coming-up-to-the hour. The occasions when we need to know the time very precisely (e.g. catching a train) we can all use our mobile phones to check the time on.

I find the history of time telling and display inspiring as well – especially where there are departures from the conventional 12 hour / 60 minute / 60 seconds display. For example there was a period up to the 18th Century when six-hour watches / clocks were popular, so the day was split into four quarters (rather than the two halves that we use). We take it for granted that hour and minute hands are time, so I find it refreshing to see something that reveals this for the arbitrary convention that it is.


The Accurate

Who would you love to see wearing a Mr Jones Watch?

Hmm tricky question - I think what makes me happiest is when we have someone come into the shop who really engages with the ideas behind the watches and takes their time to find the one that really speaks to them. I also take a special satisfaction when we sell a watch to a customer who says something like “I haven’t worn a watch in years”.

You’ve collaborated with writers, artists, athletes and DJs. Who would be your dream collaborator on a watch design?

Probably Graeme Obree, the cyclist who collaborated with me on The Hour last year, was the dream collaborator. He’s a hero of mine for many reasons, not least of which is his twice claiming the hour record in cycling. This is an extraordinary achievement, even more so when you learn that more people have walked on the moon than held this record and that he claimed it twice while existing outside of the mainstream sporting world. He didn’t have a professional team or backup behind him, just his single-minded determination and amazing capacity to think laterally. His story is so incredible that they made a film of it (Flying Scotsman), although his autobiography, on which it’s based, is far rawer and more profound.

The Hour, designed with Graeme Obree (centre)

What is the most important function of a watch, to your mind?

Gosh, I’m not sure that I can answer this without sounding flippant. Umm the most important function of our watches is that they make you think and hopefully smile!

Can you give us any hints about your next collection?

Sure - next year we’re planning to produce a series of 24 hour watches; we’re also working on the first mechanical watch for the company and there’s a clock that’s been in development for nearly a year that will hopefully be out soon!

Love Knows Not

Mr Jones watches start at £115. To find out more visit or pop into the shop at Unit 1.11 Oxo Tower Wharf.

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