Posted on June 28 2023
Sitting at your desk with the time constantly displayed on your laptop, your phone only a foot away and the radio updating you with the time every hour - you really don't need another timekeeping device strapped to your arm.
There's probably a good argument that we need to pay less attention to the time. Indeed, this site is named after J G Ballard's dystopia where timekeeping was banned in an attempt to free people from the tyranny of the clock.
But we can't view timekeeping purely as a need. If you're judging life by Maslow's hierarchy of needs you'll probably survive with some berries, rainwater and a cave. A watch isn't usually a matter of life or death.
But we all want a hell of a lot more out of life. We do want to know the time, but we also want more than the uninspired time and date function of a laptop.
When it comes to watches we've long passed the point where a watch has a single role - to tell the time. Yes, we appreciate accuracy and functionality, but we also want our lives to be filled with colour and creativity. Or for others, to own a watch with a history or a particular innovation.
That's what keeps drawing me back to Britain's Mr Jones Watches.
The company was founded with the ethos that its watches are designed as much to tell a story as they are to tell the time. The Nuage is marketed as a watch that will make you fall in love with telling the time and that's something that I can really appreciate. Let's take a closer look.
Mr Jones Ascendent Review: Unusual & Eye-Catching British Watch
Mr Jones Nuage
Mr Jones Nuage Watch Review
The Nuage from Mr Jones Watches is an unusual piece and it's definitely worth taking a minute to explore its creation.
The company is named after a real Mr Jones, its founder Crispin. As noted above, his stated mission was to launch a watch company that placed more emphasis on using watchmaking to tell a story rather than simply telling the time. Throughout the brand's collections are watches that place art at the forefront of the design - another central pillar of the brand.
These are interesting ideas and the company - established in 2007 - is going from strength to strength, presumably a sign that it's a solid concept. Crispin was born and bred in London so the brand is London based, with both a manufacturing facility and a store in the city.
In addition to the brand's central ethos, there's also a constant process of collaborating with artists and illustrators. In practice, this means that Mr Jones watches tend to be quirky and usually feature highly original designs. Importantly, there's still a recognisable house style that gives these individual watches an overall coherence.
Watch enthusiasts and fans of British watchmaking will relish the brand's hands-on approach to watch assembly. The Nuage is a great example of this. The watch is hand-crafted in London and gilded with 22-carat gold and palladium, giving each piece its own minor differences. For me, that's a definite selling point. If this process interests you, it's worth checking out their Instagram page. It includes videos of their team spray painting or printing dials and building watches on a small scale.
Like Bremont, they're gradually reintroducing elements of watchmaking back into Britain. But while Bremont and Christopher Ward are producing rugged divers and military watches, Mr Jones is more focused on colourful and humorous models. They're also very affordable which is often a major factor when buying watches.
And it's with this in mind that I unboxed the Nuage.
Like the Ascendent, this model is also presented in a carnivalesque box featuring retro art. There's the same playful text - "The Mechanician of Movement", "Heroic Do Nothings" etc - and an intriguing cut-out circle.
That circle displays the rear of the watch.
Not, as you might expect, to show the movement. Instead, it's to note that the watch was designed and gilded by Marion Labbez - the creative who was also behind the previous model I reviewed.
I like this acknowledgement.
It reinforces the idea that the design and craftsmanship of the Nuage are more important than the specs. It's as if the watch is a piece of art rather than a collection of attributes like stainless steel, 30M WR and Quartz Movement.
My first impression is that the Nuage suits my tastes more than the Ascendent. As impressed as I was with the earlier watch, the Nuage appears more versatile and wearable. It features a tasteful mid-sized stainless case and a sumptuous dial that we'll discuss at length. It's powered by a quartz movement and is finished off with a sapphire crystal and a leather strap.
The Mr Jones Nuage Watch in Detail
There are two current trends that you can't miss in the world of watches - Audemars Piguet-inspired steel sports watches and a newfound interest in smaller watches.
The Nuage is right on trend for those of us who appreciate slightly smaller watches. At 37mm wide, the stainless steel case is just right for a smaller men's watch and very comfortable as a unisex model.
The case is relatively straightforward, although the slim lugs continue around the side of the case, giving a distinctive look to the watch. While a mixture of finishings can often add to a watch's appeal, with this model and its complex dial, Mr Jones was right to stick to a single finish.
The Nuage is highly polished on the front, sides and back.
This case design is used throughout the Mr Jones range and features what at first looks like two crowns. In the traditional 3 o'clock position there's a functional crown and at 9 o'clock a crown-like button that is decorated with the brand logo. It's another distinctive touch that sets Mr Jones apart.
There's an elegance to the case which also features 18mm lugs. It's equipped with a leather camel grain strap with matching brown stitching.
The dial is the real star of the show and features a dreamlike landscape and a section of sky where you can read the time. As the designer Marion Labbez notes, "We used tempered carbon steel to create the iridescence of the blue sky. Carbon steel, when it’s heated to around 300 degrees turns to a rich blue. The sun and the moon were gilded like the glass."
Basically, there's a decoration on the inside of the glass and a dial underneath that is only partly visible - that's where the time is displayed using a rotating sun and moon.
But perhaps the best way to describe this exotic dial is to explain how the timekeeping works. Indeed, there are detailed instructions in the box that outline how to set the time - personally, I can't resist a watch that offers an uncommon method of operation.
To determine the time on this unusual watch, you note the position of the sun or moon in the sky. The blue crescent shape corresponds to a 12-hour cycle, progressing from left to right.
At 6 am, the sun emerges on the left side of this crescent. It then gradually rotates until it reaches the highest point at midday, and then continues its journey until it reaches the final marker on the right at 6 pm.
After 6 pm, the sun sets while the moon rises on the left side. This means the moon's position indicates the hours from 6 pm until 6 am.
The minute hand is located in the centre and operates as expected.
It's a slightly eccentric method for telling the time, but certainly scratches the itch of wanting a watch that offers more than an iPhone or a bedside clock.
Visually, the watch is stunning and benefits from the time taken to fully digest the design. Different angles and light offer different interpretations which I find rather satisfying.
Although the dial and its rotating moon and sun are unorthodox, they're powered by a well-known and well-regarded Rhonda Swiss quartz movement. The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal and the watch has a token water resistance of 30M.
The watch straddles two camps well. On the one hand, it's a very original design that utilizes the knowledge of an experienced designer with a background in traditional Verre Églomisé - a decorative technique that involves applying gold or metal leaf to the back surface of glass.
But it's also a very comfortable unisex watch that sits well on the wrist and will be versatile. The design is eye-catching, but it's not large or imposing and there's definitely a benefit to this.
For a unique-looking watch, the Nuage shares a lot of the DNA of the Mr Jones collection as a whole. It's a relatively small unisex piece with a well-thought-out stainless steel case. This conventional case allows for an ornate and complex dial and an unorthodox method of timekeeping.
It's that successful mix of conservative case and strap, combined with a flamboyant dial, that makes this watch work so well. Once again, Mr Jones shows that British watchmaking is back on track.