1. What did you do before launching Mr Jones Watches and what attracted you to watch design?
Fairly long story, but I'll try to be brief! I have an undergraduate degree in Sculpture and a Masters degree in Computer Related Design from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. After graduating from the RCA in 2000 I worked for a number of years producing one-of pieces that were kind-of art and kind-of design, but didn't really sit totally in either camp. I was interested in creative uses of technology and especially making things that highlighted or explored our relationship to technology (you can see these projects at www.Mr-Jones.org).
Amongst the things I made was a one-off series of watches. I think I was drawn to the watch initially because it's a great technological survivor - most technology looks obsolete after five years, but watches have been around for several hundred years. Watches clearly then have a function socially beyond the simple time telling and this is the area that interests me most - why do we wear watches? what does your watch communicate about you to other people?
2. Is there a particular watch that you wish you had designed? What do you love about it?
Hmm probably not - I don't generally look back at past watches with a covetous eye. What I would love though is to have been making watches at a time when there was the network of craftspeople around to allow you to hand-make watches here in London (so probably going back at least one hundred years). I think I would have really enjoyed the process of working with that sort of supply chain where you could get someone to make a movement, someone to finish it, another person to make a dial and someone to make you a case. I think I would have enjoyed asking for things slightly out of the ordinary!
3. What do you draw inspiration from when coming up with new designs?
Anything and everything - it varies enormously. I'm starting to think about the new designs now so pondering this exact question! The thing is having an idea for a watch is relatively simple, what takes time is refining it and developing it to make into something I'm happy with. There's a very nice Picasso quote, that I think I probably subscribe to which runs, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."
4. Do you have anything new in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
well we're planning some new models for this year, but afraid I can't reveal anything yet. I'd like to work on some more mechanical watches, especially working on the mechanics of the movement itself. I've been studying mechanical watchmaking at Epping Forest Horology Centre (www.efhc.org.uk/) for several years now and am starting to develop some competence. Not sure if we'll be able to produce something this year, but it's certainly in the pipeline...
5. What are your thoughts on all of the hype surrounding wearable tech? Does it spell trouble for the traditional watch industry?
I find it pretty unpersuasive - I've not seen anything that really makes me desire any of the new 'smart' watches. The thing with technology companies is that the people making the decisions tend to be engineers and they can often get caught up in creating something because it's possible, rather than creating something because there is a demand or human need for it.
6. Finally, how many watches do you have in your personal collection and which one is your most treasured (excluding your own designs)?
I probably have several hundred all told. The vast majority of them are pretty inexpensive ones I've bought to work on as part of my studies. I really like English wristwatches, the wristwatch was a Swiss invention, the English industry was generally more focused on creating small quantities of high quality pocket watches. I think my most treasured would be one of the Rotherhams & Sons English wristwatches I have from the 1920s.
Thanks Crispin! Next up we will be chatting to Robert Dabi from ZIIIRO watches.