Let's be frank here – the best watches on the market can often be dull affairs. While we may be in the minority, most people will only own one watch at a time. If that's the case, you're going to want something plain and simple, which is easy to pair with any outfit.
That can be mighty boring though. Watch forums are filled with people owning eight slight variants of a black Rolex Submariner. Yawn.
If that idea fills you with emotions ranging anywhere from dread to outright anger, good news – there are a ton of watch brands offering something quirky and different. That notion is spearheaded by Mr Jones Watches. Based in South London, the brand make some of the most interesting timepieces on the market.
This week, I've been using their A Perfectly Useless Afternoon mechanical model. That's arguably the most recognisable model in their range, earning many plaudits on Instagram for its wacky looks. But is it any good? Let's take a look.
Let's start off with a run through of some specs. The movement is an STP 1-11, which is a clone of the ETA 2824-2. That's a solid movement, and should offer reliable operation and easy servicing.
That's packed into a 40mm case with a 50mm lug-to-lug width and an 11mm thickness. Translated to non-watch geek speak, that means this is a very wearable size.
The case is made from industry-standard 316L stainless steel, and topped with a sapphire crystal. It's even water resistant to 50m, which should be just enough to allow for use in everyday situations without fear of damage.
On my review model, the watch uses an 18mm stainless steel mesh bracelet. However, there are a ton of options on the Mr Jones Watches website, allowing you to really customise your watch to taste. The blue on this dial pairs nicely with the blue or yellow silicone, FYI.
What is the Mr Jones Watches A Perfectly Useless Afternoon like to wear?
Let's address the elephant – or rather, the rubber duck – in the room first. This watch has no hands, so how could anyone tell the time? Well, it's actually remarkably simple. Instead of hands, this watch uses a pair of plastic discs stacked on top of one another.
The hours are displayed by the person in the rubber ring. They're poking a toe out, which points to the hour. Minutes are handled by the little rubber duck, who swims around the outer edge of the pool.
What's more, the design of the dial really helps, too. The tile effect on the bottom of the pool hits the edge of the watch where all of the indices would usually be. That makes it really simple to read – in my experience, just as easy as any three hand watch.
Of course, wearing a watch like this isn't just about ease. In fact, I'd wager that's the last reason anyone is looking at one of these.
Instead, watches like these are designed to stand out and be different to others in your collection. Every watch collection needs something a bit wacky – something you certainly wouldn't wear every day, but would smile every day that you did.
That's what Mr Jones Watches offer. Across the breadth of their range, there's a real feeling of differentiation. This isn't your Daddy's Rolex – and it really isn't made to be.
What most surprised me about wearing this watch, though, was that it certainly plays the part of a much more expensive timepiece. Forget for a second that you're wearing a depiction of a person lounging in a pool with a rubber duck, and you'll probably picture something much more luxurious.
If you were wondering about the name, by the way, it comes from a Chinese philosopher. As told by the watches' designer, Kristof Devos, "A couple of years ago, I read a quote by a Chinese writer, translator, linguist and philosopher Lin Yutang that I’ve kept close to my heart ever since: 'If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learnt how to live'. So when designing this watch, I took that quote as a starting point."
Is the Mr Jones Watches A Perfectly Useless Afternoon mechanical worth the money?
Okay, so let's get into the crux of it – is this thing worth the cash? At £545, it represents one of the most expensive pieces in the brands' collection.
And I'm torn on this front. On the one hand, yes. It's a staggeringly good watch – effortlessly comfortable, good looking, quirky but not too much to use on a regular day, well made. It's everything you want a c.£500 watch to be.
My issue here is that Mr Jones Watches also make a quartz version of this watch. It's a shade slimmer, at 37mm across, but it costs just £195. That's quite the price difference, and one which I think is tough to qualify.
See, one of the best bits about a mechanical watch is the smooth sweep of the seconds hand. Without one here, it feels just a little superfluous.
Still, it's a cool watch from a great brand. If you absolutely must have an automatic version in your collection, this is the one to opt for.