Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up LE

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Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up

People are of two minds when they see the Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up LE. They either consider it whimsical or juvenile, clever or tacky. I admit to adoring the concept – as far as unconventional watches go – from first digital sight. I love my Mickey Mouse watch. Step Right Up is something more . . .

It’s a “novelty watch” with an entire sepia-toned, semi-animated, carnival scene (a family affair).  More pretentiously, it’s a cloisonné enamel vignette. Belied is the fact that the Step Right Up tells the time at all.

Mr Jones Packaging

I was giddy to see the watch in the flesh. Mr Jones’ carnival themed packaging maintained the new-toy-under-the-Christmas-tree excitement. Pavement drifters and heroic donothings need apply? Sign me up!

The first thing I noticed: the dial’s three-dimensionality. Mr Jones’ British assemblers printed the carnival scene directly on the back of the lightly domed mineral glass crystal. There’s no viewing angle where you can see colorless glass. As Wallace might say to Gromit, it’s like no dial I’ve ever tested.

While not somber, Step Right Up’s color scheme is earth tone neutral. Right answer. Any number of jewel tones would have ruined the watch’s sartorial utility. The watch’s colorful scenery goes with everything and clashes with nothing.

Step Right Up on wrist

Look ma, no hands! Clear discs powered by an unspecified “single jewel quartz mechanism” replace the hour and minute hands. On closer examination, the minute wheel is a tad higher than the hour, same as normal hands would be. There’s no third row for seconds.

The time window is appropriately sized for the scene, but size challenged. I gripe about small seconds sub-dials, but the entire visible working area here is no bigger than an average example – about 11mm wide by 8mm high.

I was wearing distance glasses when I first donned the Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up LE. I immediately realized why RF (a.k.a., Mr. Legibility) had passed the horological baton. I had to do the geezer move of lifting my glasses and raising it a few inches from my eye to read the time.

Mr Jones Step Right Up

Mr Jones’ official time-telling instructions aren’t the clearest. Here’s how it works . . .

Close up Mr Jones

The white circles on the yellow ducks on the top row are the hour markers. The fives are blue and the tens are red – except for the zero minutes marker (the hour), which is a red and white bullseye. The ducks move clockwise. The left is the start of the hour, the right is the end. Counter-intuitively, when the relevant duck is centered, it’s thirty minutes past the hour.

It gets even tricker; two anatidae occupy the aperture at any one time. Illustrator and pinball aficionado Ryan Claytor thinks those itty bitty waves under the top row of disks are visible enough to be of assistance. Either I’m too impatient or my maculae are too degenerated to agree.

Superzoom Step Right Up

The lower minute row – delineated by pie plates in five-minute intervals – is simpler. A centered pie plate indicates the current time. It requires a bit of one hand watch-esque interpolation to judge the time between the five minute intervals.

Stepping out with the Step Right Up, time-telling orientation and direction kicked in after a couple days. I found myself looking at the minutes first; they hint which section of the hour display is relevant. It takes a fraction of a second to process, assuming good vision, but it’s worth the price of admission.

Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up

The crown is almost perfectly recessed, out of the way both physically and visually. The left side has a slightly smaller monogrammed button-looking thing. It’s purely ornamental, providing some symmetry. I presume it’s there for when they spin it around for their models with a left hand crown at 9 o’clock.

The lugs curve downward, just enough that to keep the case back aloft when laid on a flat surface. But they are long; Step Right Up wears like a larger watch. The lug ends swell out like little cups around the spring bars, a sculpted touch even if the shape brings vintage telephone handset ends to my mind.

The band is a padded and stitched Hirsch Boston golden brown buffalo calfskin. (I guess the buffalo aren’t endangered if their calves are becoming watchbands.) I totally forgot it had quick release spring bars for the first few days. Then I realized that the little nubs are visible from the front in the big gap from the long lugs. They can’t be unseen. Convenient for band changes, but I’m tempted to delete them. #narrowwristproblems

The band length is ideal. The dual keepers were filled, with just the little tapered end protruding. Of course I have small 6-1/2″ wrists, so this may be a problem for others (who will appreciate the quick release spring bars). There’s no skimping on the monogrammed buckle, mercifully free of bulk.

Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up

It should come as no surprise that there’s no lume for you. The use of white aids in blacklight (a.k.a., UV) legibility, if that helps.

Step Right Up Caseback official

In terms of making watches fun, Mr Jones Watches has their ducks in a row. I’m attracted to this model and RF likes A Perfectly Useless Afternoon. If the eponymous Mr Jones, (who is an actual person) reads this, please step up and release an unlimited edition of Step Right Up. It’s not a perfect watch. But as a novelty time display, it’s a masterpiece.

Model: Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up LE
Price: $245 (sold out)

SPECIFICATIONS:

Case diameter: 37mm
Case thickness: 10mm
Lug to lug: 46mm
Lug width: 18mm
Case metal: 316L stainless steel
Band: Hirsch Boston Buffalo calfskin, golden brown
Largest strap diameter: 205mm (8.07″)
Smallest strap diameter: 150mm (5.9″)
Weight: 44g (1.5 oz), without band 34g (1.2 oz)
Crystal: mineral glass
Lume: N/A
Movement: single jewel quartz
Water Resistance: 5ATM
Functions: Hours, minutes
Guarantee: 12 months

Design * * * * *
I have yet to tire of the quaint Tintin-seque illustration, and the incorporation of function into form. Rare is the tasteful novelty watch. This is best in class.

Legibility * *
Rounded up from one and a half stars because there are much more illegible and indecipherable weird watches out there. This is child’s play in comparison, but the time-telling area is date window sized, with no magnifier.

Comfort * * * *
It’s hard to screw up the comfort of a smaller quartz watches, and they didn’t skimp on the band. Crown hides away. Lugs could be shorter, but my wrist could be thicker.

Overall * * * *
The Step Right Up is boyish charm in a bottle. For quick time telling, look elsewhere as this is more fun than function. As a minimally compromised small-batch craft oddity, the Mr Jones Watches Step Right Up LE watch hit the bullseye.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Cool! They should animate some of the other figures at certain time intervals. Make the gun jump when the hour duck moves to the center. Make the girl jump at 5 minute intervals. Something like that. But, that would obviously complicate the movement… Hey, is that why they call them “complications?”

    • The economy of the Mr Jones operation is part of the appeal to me. They achieve so much with overwhelmingly stock parts.
      I do wish they could’ve gotten something to move at seconds pace to appear less static.

      • I love novelty watches and offbeat designs. I like dive watches, but the market needs another dive watch like it needs a hole in the head. Legibility is a legitimate trade-off if the design is interesting enough.

        • Bingo, they offer something unique. Practical, not really. If there are people that wear something like this on a daily basis, there can’t be too many.

          BTW, Mr Jones told me that if they reissue, the crystal will be sapphire instead of mineral glass. I was unable to damage it with normal use, but that’s basically an irreplaceable crystal so more scratch resistance would be better.

          • I used to wear Tokyo Flash watches and then…fatherhood. A Seiko automatic field watch was fantastic for telling the time and checking the date when filling out the daily daycare check in sheet for babies. Plus at $50, I was able to replace my first one after it broke down a year after I bought it. Five years after I purchased it, my second Seiko automatic field watch is still working. Unemployed Philosophers Guild had some nice (and cheap) quartz novelty watches when the kids were older but watches could still get smashed up on a playground. Now that progressive lenses are needed, I like unusual designs but legibility is more (but not always) of a consideration.

  2. I have a huge amount of respect for Mr. Jones and am glad to see it getting attention.

    The Number Cruncher is on my list of watches to get, but the 37mm case has held me back from pulling the tigger.

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