The Informant: The Watch for the Anti-Watch Guys

March 16, 2024 | by

SPY agents, trained to be discerning and skeptical, are tasked with identifying high-value targets for shrewd shoppers. Products curated by The Informant are the best of the best: beautifully imagined and thoughtfully made products that become instantly indispensable.

I’ve never been a watch guy. 

I have a strange relationship with them as a Gen Z/millennial cusper. Smartwatches are ugly and overcomplicated, vintage watches feel anachronistic (or expensive), and those Y2K numbers that have gotten popular recently scream poindexter to me. Don’t even get me started on smartphones making the whole category obsolete.  

If the mission is to accessorize a wrist, I’d probably just default to wearing a bracelet (on any given day I’m wearing this one from Mejuri, this one from Vitaly, or both). I do love the look of something like the Status-y Cartier Tanks, but $4,000 is not something most people would invest in wristwear. So my metric for “watch I’d actually wear” comes down to something that’s more eye-popping than a typical bracelet, cheaper than Cartier, and more sophisticated than the streetwear-popular watches. Enter Mr. Jones

I’ve admired the quirky, London-based brand on social media for years. There’s something Giapetto-like about these analog watches that turn time-telling into a game instead of a utility or an analog chore. For their anniversary last year, my best friend bought her boyfriend the Paper Crane design, the face of which rotates from day to night in the top half. It goes from yellow to blue, as swirling black and gold clouds obscure the part of the day that hasn’t yet passed; a real crane in the morning changes to a paper crane at night. It sounds chaotic but looks elegant and balletic in real life — like a music box on your wrist. (It’s also automatic, meaning you never need to replace the battery.)

I’ve been using The Ascendant, designed by gilding artist Marion Labbez, for the past few months. The face’s image is an abstract mountaintop, which displays the numeral of the hour in a tree and the minutes in groups of stars — a small gold star represents five minutes, while a large gold star is ten, a large silver is 30, and the moon is 0. It’s not great for literal time-telling, but that’s the fun of it — it seems like something out of Lord of the Rings, or some other fantasy world where you only ever need the approximate time. But I love the whimsy of it. The watch itself and the leather are both black, but the face is made up of vibrant blues, which add a welcome shock of color to more muted outfits. The Ascendent will run you $425, which is much more expensive than a Casio throwback, but way cheaper — and way more my speed — than a Cartier or a Rolex. 

No, I still wouldn’t count myself as a watch guy, but I’m exactly the type to want accessories that are playful yet elevated — ones that feel like I’m ordering ice cream at a four-star restaurant. Some of us grow up and buy Rolexes; some of us try to figure out what Gandalf would wear. 

Mr. Jones Paper Crane Wrist Watch

Courtesy of Mr. Jones



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