When Florentine Ariosto Jones started up his watch manufacture at Schaffhausen in 1868, it lasted four years before the first watches could leave the factory. They are known as calibre ‘Jones’ pocket watches. Although IWC keeps one of the best watch archives known, the early production has not been documented perfectly and IWC states that the reliability of the archives is only acceptable after 1885.
At that time F.A. Jones and his successor Frederick Ferdinand Seeland had already left Switzerland and the production of Jones watches had stopped. During the last quarter of the 19th century, a major change had taken place in the construction of pocket watches in the USA and Europe. Until 1870 most pocket watches were wound and set by a key. Then a gradual shift took place in winding and setting a watch. It was more convenient to wind the movement over a crown and to set the hands by using a lever or as well by the crown, making a key redundant. Jones, working in the middle of this transition period, produced all three types simultaneously: key wind, key set as well as stem wind, lever set and stem wind, stem set.
A total of approximately 25.500 Jones watches have been made. It is estimated that no more than 2 % of the watches still exist, that is around 500 watches (ref. 1). A minority of these is key wind, key set: about 80 watches. Most of them are defect or incomplete movements without a case. About 50 % of all Jones movements were originally exported to the USA, where they were cased in gold or coin silver, engine turned cases, made by different American case makers. The majority of these original cases have been removed over time to recuperate the precious metal.