November 25, 2022
by Ariel Adams
If there is anything that Mr. Jones Watches are good at, it is using the wristwatch as a palette not just for art, but for sending useful social messages. The best products from the British boutique brand are, at once, legible watches, attractive art, and thought-provoking messages. I would like to suggest that a product such as Mr. Jones Watches “A Perfectly Useless Afternoon” satisfies these criteria. With a dial designed by artist Kristof Devos, A Perfectly Useless Afternoon makes a watch dial out of an illustrated pool scene, and it does so very cleverly.
Mr. Jones Watches first released the A Perfectly Useless Afternoon in a smaller 37mm-wide case size but given the popularity of the design, have adapted it for their “XL” case, which is steel and sized to 45mm-wide (water resistant to 50 meters). Polished and bold on the wrist, the Mr. Jones Watch XL case is fitted to a handsome mesh metal bracelet (on helpful quick-release spring bars for easy removal). Inside the watch is a Swiss Made STP caliber 1-11 automatic movement. Mr. Jones Watches has recently been upgrading its movements and casebacks, so the sample you see here is actually a bit different from the retail version currently pictured on the brand’s website. The retail version has a display caseback with text printed on the mineral crystal window (the front of the watch has a sapphire crystal over the dial). This piece has a solid caseback, which probably identifies it an earlier production run.
Time is indicated via two transparent discs that are printed with graphics that serve as the hour and minute indicators. The background of the dial is a blue pool bottom with squiggly crossing lines meant to look as though you are seeing straight lines through the distortion effect of water. These lines not only help reduce visual empty space on the dial but also actually serve as hour markers. These lines further extend into formal hour markers on a relatively thin off-white chapter ring. The result is so simple and natural-looking, and yet it perfectly serves to create a discreet dial for the time.
The hour and minute hands are graphics of a person lounging in an inflatable pool donut and a yellow rubber duck, respectively. As time goes on, the position of these hands moves, offering a fun animation so that the objects in the “pool” appear to lazily float around. The visual position of the items allows your brain to easily understand them as both hour and minute hands, as well as artistic objects. A Perfectly Lazy Afternoon isn’t the first such composition to do these things well, but is it a rare example of sophisticated simplicity, and is rarely available at these price points.
Getting intellectually deeper, dial designer Kristof Devos points to inspiration from the Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang who is credited with saying, “If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.” This is especially provocative in an era in which many people feel that the value of their lives is defined by the outcome of their “hustle.” This watch is an antidote to that notion.
When a watch has the power to evoke an emotion, or at the least remind you of something that makes you happy, it has, in my opinion, succeeded as a product in our modern era. Simple and effective, a timepiece like A Perfectly Useless Afternoon from Mr. Jones Watches is just that. I am really glad to see it in the 45mm-wide size, and think the bright blue dial with yellow and orange accents has a summery pleasantness that many people will enjoy. Price for the Mr. Jones Watches A Perfectly Useless Afternoon XL is $525 USD. Learn more at the Mr. Jones Watches website here.