This totally bizarre watch has me dreaming about the summer

‘A Perfectly Useless Afternoon’ by Mr Jones Watches is unlike any other

Mr Jones Watch A perfectly useless afternoon
(Image credit: Mr Jones Watches)

As we near the end of 2023 and the sun can barely be bothered to haul itself over the horizon, I’m already dreaming of summer – and that’s largely thanks to one of the most unusual watches I’ve ever seen.

The timepiece in question is called ‘A Perfectly Useless Afternoon’ and it comes from London-based Mr Jones Watches. I recently discovered the company after noticing their discrete workshop on my local high street in South East London.

Curious about what lurked behind the ‘by appointment only’ message on the door, I found their website, searched by lowest price first (it is the holiday shopping season, after all) and have been captivated by ‘A perfectly useless afternoon’ ever since.

I’m clearly showing my age/ignorance here, as fellow T3 writer Sam Cross has already written about another Mr Jones watch, called Houseparty. In that case, the dial is so fantastically complicated – a mess of dancing limbs, cocktails and musical notes – that telling the time is all but impossible. Why? Because the best house parties are those where time itself disappears in a haze of cheap wine and unfamiliar sofas.

Mr Jones Watches A perfectly useless afternoon

(Image credit: Mr Jones Watches)

I’m a bit too old for that now, too. Boo-hiss. Probably why I’m drawn so hopelessly to my favourite Mr Jones creation, where a person lounges on an inflatable ring in a swimming pool, their outstretched foot acting as the hour hand while a rubber duck bobs about to show the minutes.

For a second I dismissed it as plain daft. But then I was hit by a pang of desire to be that person; in the pool, reading a book and with little sense of what time it is. I yearn to be them, idly wasting another balmy afternoon in the sun.

The watch’s designer Kristof Devos says: “Ironically, it took time to change the way I look at time. 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. The quote by Lin Yutang taught me the value of doing nothing at all every once in a while.” Go on, roll your eyes and get back to lusting after an unaffordable Patek if you like, but I’m smitten.

I don’t feel this way about all of Mr Jones’ creations, they are perhaps the very definition of an acquired taste, but this one works for me. The colours are great. The 37mm stainless steel case of this quartz version (waterproof to 50 metres) is the perfect size for my wrist – an automatic model with a 40mm case is also available – and at £195 it falls nicely onto my spontaneous purchase radar. The mechanical one is a somewhat larger commitment, at £545.

Mr Jones Watches A perfectly useless afternoon

(Image credit: Mr Jones Watches)

I’m not quite sold on the default strap, but helpfully Mr Jones offers a range of alternatives. Think I’ll go for the turquoise nylon with orange stitching. Matching swim shorts a must.

Declaring oneself a fan of watches (or, whisper it, a ‘collector’) can sound a bit cringeworthy. It serves up thoughts of Rolex nerds talking about reference numbers as if muttering a secret language. Mr Jones Watches blows that notion out of the water and replaces it with pure, simple fun. Our phones tell more accurate time than any watch, so let’s all drop the pretense and learn to take ourselves less seriously.

Lighten up. Buy a watch that barely tells the time at all, but with every glance will remind you of that Greek holiday you’ve got coming up.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.