Sometimes, a watch brings something very different from actual time-telling. And when it hits all the right notes, the watch might as well be an artwork for your living room, but it’s on your wrist and happens to tell the time.

This is the modus operandi for the British company Mr Jones Watches and its fresh design output. We have reviewed The Promise of Happiness and “A perfectly useless afternoon,” both collaborative efforts with artists and illustrators. For me, this is an eclectic, fun, and deeply thought-provoking take on watchmaking. By going hands-on with the Tadaima, I am transported to one of my bucket-list destinations, Tokyo.

Mr Jones Watches Tadaima wrist shot

The backstory of the Tadaima

At first glance, you will recognize a metropolis rendered in evocative, naive expressionist colors of blue, orange, and creamy yellow. And if I tell you it depicts Tokyo, the alluring capital of Japan, you might even feel its pull on your traveling heart. Filling the dial space is an artwork by London-based Japanese illustrator Yo Hosoyamada, and it has a charming backstory that will get your thoughts wandering across the oceans.

Mr Jones Watches Tadaima case back

“‘Tadaima’ [ただいま] is the Japanese [phrase] for ‘I’m home!’, the first thing you say when you walk through the door. The reply to ‘Tadaima’ is ‘Okaeri’ [おかえり], which means ‘Welcome home’,” Hosoyamada tells us. “You say [‘Tadaima’] when you come home after a long day of work or after you have been away for a while. It also means ‘right now’ or ‘the present.’ Living and working away from my hometown of Tokyo, I wanted to design [a] watch that would serve as a window or a portal that could transport me home whenever I wanted. It’s a homage to the city I love that means I can carry it wherever I go.”

Mr Jones Watches Tadaima wrist shot

A perfectly wearable watch

The watch has Mr Jones Watches’ recognizably long-lugged case, which, as Brandon mentioned here, perhaps riffs on a DeBethune-inspired vibe. Going hands-on with the Tadaima is a study in how much dial design, diameter, and the lugs’ length and shape mean for wearability. Disregarding the eye-catching dial, Mr Jones has nailed a one-for-all size with this 37mm case. The stretchy lugs, with their 46mm span, will make it feel more like a 38–39mm case, and it is supremely comfortable with the soft Milanese mesh bracelet. And even without using the term “unisex,” it works great on any wrist.

Who cares about legibility?

The dial is painstakingly pad printed in-house, with each color constituting a new layer. This printing process is the old-school way. It takes time, and the result is crisp. Like a limited-edition art print, the Tadaima is meant to stir emotions rather than be a time-telling tool, but it’s framed for your wrist. And for me, having caught myself staring at the dial and imagining Tokyo at sunset, it works. The time itself? Sure, you can read it, but the jumping hour disc beautifully matches the color of the skyscraper, so you must focus.

Mr Jones Watches Tadaima

If you’re in Tokyo, where trains run on time to the second, a dial lacking minute markings is not exact enough. But hey, that’s beside the point, right? And the ethereally floating bird? It is printed on a circular, clear film affixed in the center, its wing tip serving as your minute indicator. And yes, the 3D effect is even better in real life than how it appears in my shots.

Mr Jones Watches Tadaima close-up

A different conclusion than usual

This is where you would expect me to conclude by weighing up the pros and cons, perhaps comparing the watch to a competitor, right? But when legibility is fairly irrelevant, and there are no competitors to zen-like wrist art, the Tadaima is what it is — a polarizing piece of wristwear, perhaps, but I would dare anyone not to smile upon seeing it. Those who do might even get a dreamy look in their eyes like me. When Tokyo is one of your bucket-list destinations, the anime-like naive depiction of the metropolis has charm by the bucketload. And yes, you can read the time too; just be patient.

The Tadaiama comes fitted with an automatic ST1721, a 20-jewel automatic mechanical movement by the Chinese company Sea-Gull. It has a 42-hour power reserve, and from experience (a first-gen Baltic Bicompax), I’ll say that a Sea-Gull movement is pretty dependable and accurate. And just like any Seiko NH-based caliber, servicing is way more expensive than simply buying a €60–70 new movement from an online dealer. As a bonus, there is a flat sapphire crystal and a decent water resistance rating of 5 ATM. On the slinky 18mm Milanaise quick-fit bracelet, £295 directly from Mr Jones Watches is simply great value for a very different piece of cheer-me-up wristwear.

What about you, Fratelli? Is legibility and dive-readiness everything, or are you open to a more playful take on horology? Let me know in the comments.

Watch specifications

Pad-printed city scene with jumping-hour display and bird-shaped minute indicator printed on a clear acrylic disc
Case Material
Stainless steel (316L) with all-polished finish
Case Dimensions
37mm (diameter) × 46mm (lug-to-lug) × 15mm (thickness)
Case Back
Stainless steel
Sea-Gull ST1721: automatic with manual winding, 21,600vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve,
Water Resistance
Stainless steel Milanese mesh bracelet (18mm width)
Time only (jumping digital hours and minute "hand")