Crispin Jones stands accused of being a cult designer. He doesn’t flinch. “I think that is right,” he says, “I’m certainly not a mainstream designer, largely because of my background. I don’t really think I fit in with most designers. My designs don’t appeal to everyone, but those who like them really seem to respond.”
That background – fine art student and former sculptor – goes some way to explaining watches made with stacks of transparent dials that are sometimes colourful, sometimes sparse, often allusive and always original, from a recurring memento mori theme to orbiting circles and even time telling teeth. They really are the perfect echoes of the man himself: thoughtful, original and innovative.
And something of a contradiction. You see, Crispin makes modern watches and collects vintage ones. He sells quartz ones and repairs mechanical ones. In fact if you type #vintagewatchfridays into Twitter you will see a picture of Crispin’s wrist adorned with vintage timepieces that he has restored; a different one every week, naturally. At the time of writing it is a 1960s Asprey, which with its English heritage resonates neatly with Crispin’s aspirations to make Mr Jones in Britain.
“We’re currently working to bring some of the watch production to the UK. Initially we’re doing sampling and producing small editions here, we’re planning to release the first of our UK-made watches later in the summer. This has represented a significant change in the way that we work. We’re a tiny company, so we’re all having to learn new skills to be able to do this. Chiefly what we’re doing is printing dials, hands and watch glasses here and assembling them. Later I’d like to look at producing watch cases here, but we’ve enough on our plate for now.”
Crispin is so excited about the UK manufacture that he is concentrating entirely on that for now, scaling as much back as possible in order to focus on it, even ditching the trade shows, at least temporarily, “simply because they take too much time that I’d prefer to spend in the studio”.
Spending more time working and less selling? All this talk will help to maintain his – and his brand’s – well earned cult status. And it is because there is no one else quite like Crispin, and no watches quite like his, that he made the inaugural Hot 100. Even if his inclusion in this debut list did come as a shock. “I feel very proud and a bit surprised. We don’t really feel like part of the UK watch industry because neither I nor any of my staff have ever worked for another watch company [but I’m] really happy to feel like we’re doing something right.” His ever growing cult following would agree.
Mr Jones Watches founder and designer Crispin Jones was an Entrepreneur in the WatchPro Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.