Compass Road by Iain Sinclair


I was hoping to get my delayed 2011 calendar launched today but other work needed completing so here’s an interim post.

Think of your journey through mortality as a sequence of valid movies and the pain is ameliorated. Forget the tedious 60-minute division of the lecture hall or dead television (quartered by adverts): arrange just enough markers for the 90-minute slots of Golden Age cinema. And then it’s only a question of nominating the eight guides, culture-figures who will dominate your thoughts (and reveries) for as long as you stay upright. The road is endless, you aren’t. Iain Sinclair

There may be a recession on but people still keep putting out the luxury goods; maybe the bankers are buying all this stuff with their unwarranted bonuses. Compass Road is a limited edition wristwatch from Mr Jones Watches, London, and sports a design commissioned from writer Iain Sinclair, a somewhat surprising choice given that these things are more usually farmed out to those individuals we have to call celebrities. Sinclair is too intelligent and interesting to be a mere celebrity and consequently designs a watch I’d probably buy if I had an excessive income. The watch middle and the hands are based on the British road signs designed by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir while the typeface used for the compass points is Calvert and Kinneir’s Transport (below) which is also used across Britain’s road signs. For the destinations Sinclair has chosen eight writers with London associations: John Clare, Gerald Kersh, Bram Stoker, Joseph Conrad, William Blake, HG Wells, JG Ballard and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. The last seems an odd choice but he did work in London for a while.


Sinclair’s design is a flexible enough to be applied to other literary cities which raises the question of which names you’d choose for Paris, say, or New York. And which signage systems? Subways or the local roads? Compass Road meanwhile can be yours for £145.

3 thoughts on “Compass Road by Iain Sinclair”

  1. “the eight guides, culture-figures who will dominate your thoughts (and reveries) for as long as you stay upright” — Given IS’s set of guides, very much a MISTER Jones watch, then. London hosted no women shamans? Sigh!

    At first, I thought the minute hand had been converted into a minute-and-a-half hand, with a day of 16 “hours”. Quite exciting, and, after all, analogue watch faces should be ostentatiously difficult. But in that case, the guides’ names wouldn’t need to fade in and out, so I fear not.

  2. Hi Matthew. I thought the same regarding the names although women writers feature little in Sinclair’s pantheon. He was friends with Kathy Acker in the 90s but I can’t think of any others he’s really championed.

  3. Well, he’s entitled to his own pantheon, I guess, but it is sad that we’re supposed to aspire to be guided by his list (I’d no more want Celine’s name on my wristwatch/compass than I’d want Henry Ford’s, whatever Celine’s importance as an artist) and that Mr. Jones thought–probably correctly–that an all-male list wouldn’t hurt sales.

    Kathy Acker is, I suspect, a safe choice for the boys, just as in music Joni Mitchell is.

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