What happens when two brothers in England collect watches for 20 years and have a passion for Italian cars and classic watches of the 70s? That’s right. They set up their own watch company. MAALS watches by the brothers Andy and Mark Sealey. And if you see the watches now, you know why I really wanted an interview with them. Have fun! It’s worth it!
Mark, Andy. . . tell me something about you. Where do you come from, what have you done, what are your hobbies
We’re from an Afro Caribbean background, our mum is from Jamaica and our dad is from Barbados, we, along with our sister, on the other are born and raised in the city of
Wolverhampton, UK. My (Andy) background is in Marketing and design and Mark’s (he prefers his nickname Bruno) is in computing, programming and databases.
As a family we’re all sci-fi fans – Manga, Star Trek, Star Wars and Marvel being obvious real standouts. Can’t wait for the next part of Avengers to drop! Also enjoy animations and of course Disney, think it was dad that got us all in to that, and its passed on to my kids too.
Mark, how did you get in to watches and what were your favourite watches? And what stories are there about each of these watches?
My love of watches started much longer ago than Andy’s. Old Mr Manny who lived upstairs from us in the block of flats we lived in when back in the 80s when we were both young, and he used to repair watches and taught me about movements and some basic repair bits for mechanical watches.
Time moved on and so did we. I went to uni in Liverpool in the 1990’s where I brought my first watch; an Adidas sports watch, with money from being a Lifeguard and working for the university. I’d been given several by then but this one was with my own money. That was followed quickly by one of the first Puma watches, which I unfortunately lost. Several digital watches came and went while living and working in Japan, which would have been exceptionally cool if I still had them.
My collection today is very eclectic and goes like this;
2 – Damas jump hour
Adidas sports watch
1973 Damas 17 jewels automatic jump hour
Citizen Eco Drive Stealth
Lip Mach 2000 Chronograph
Xeric Xeriscope Square
A Garmin fitness tracker/sports watch
3 Disney watches……
I did say it was eclectic.
Andy, how did you get in to watches and what were your favourite watches? And what stories are there about each of these watches?
I started collecting watches when I moved to my own place at 18. New job, new city, new flat, so of course new clothes and a new watch or two had to be done. I started off with a Storm Camera which I stumbled across in a trendy charity shop in Worcester where I was living. That first one sparked an interest in Storm watches and their designs. After that I picked up a Storm Navigator and a lovely Storm Bubble, then a couple of Tokyo flash pieces.
The Storm Bubble was swapped for drinks on a special works night out by a friend of mine, whom I’d lent it to – we had some serious words about that one. The rest of my collection was unfortunately stolen – along with the TV, Stereo, photographs, (honestly, why?), and my housemates’ car – when the house I was living in was burgled. I stopped collecting after that for a long while. Partly because there wasn’t anything I really wanted, but mostly because I simply didn’t feel like collecting anymore.
I started collecting again thanks to my other half who bought me an Armani as a birthday present. My small collection now consists of
Nooka Zub Blue,
Nooka Zaz with its see-through dial
Storm Ovnik Blue
A gorgeous brushed rose gold Lasser jump hour, which is about as old as me I think.
So after 20 years of collecting watches, you’ll start your own company. How did this happen? Has the idea been there for a long time or did the idea come about, e. G. Drinking beer at the bar in the evening?
It’s been an on and off idea for a long time, we just didn’t get around to doing anything about it till recently. We were looking around for new watches and found that most of the watches on sale today have the same look, with a few exceptions. Bruno has in the past backed a couple of design-led watches on Kickstarter and we thought, if they can do it, why couldn’t we.
Sometimes you just decide to go for it and we did. This whole journey so far has been both scary and exciting, but I know if we didn’t go for it then we’d be forever wondering. Plus creating the brand and watch has been good fun.
And then what happened? The idea is one thing, but the finished watch is another. Then what happened?
It’s taken literally months of emails, questionnaires, conversations and design example presentations with various ODM’s to get to where we are today. It’s helped that we had a clear idea of what we wanted, we can imagine everything being much more difficult with lots of back and forth if we didn’t.
Not being restricted to an ODM’s interpretation of what they think we wanted, instead allowing us to put our imaginations to work and create the design ourselves, has been key to creating Jump Over The Moon and will continue to be for our next designs too. Designing what we want is why we started on this journey after all.
I find your watch just MEGA CLASS! And now that I have read that you Italian cars turn on, much me immediately on that the recess of the moon phase reminds me immediately of the logo of Alpha Romeo. Is that so or what story is behind it? (photos, photos, photos, . . .
We are big Alfa fans here – my first car after passing my driving test was an Alfa Romeo 156 T-Spark, Bruno has had 3 (A 156, GT and still has a series 2 V6 Spider), even our dad used to own a 156. We’d love to collaborate with an Alfa specialist like Alfaholics (https://www.alfaholics.com) or even Alfa Romeo themselves to create a design dedicated to the brand and its fans, it’s on our to-do list.
70’s jump hour watches such as those from Damas and Lasser, have had an influence for sure, their use of softer rounded edges rather than the more current sharper edged look has been pulled through into our design, as well as the domed dial and screen. The red of the Italian sports cars was the influence for the red second hand on the brushed steel version, and a mirror frame from an interior designer friend on mine gave us the idea for the sunburst dials. We are big Alfa fans here, we’d love to do a design dedicated to the brand, it’s on our to-do list.
JUMP OVER THE MOON. That’s the name of your watch. How did you come up with that idea?
Bruno came up with it, when we’d done the design. Its literally the arrangement of the movement jump hour design over a moonphase element – Jump Over The Moon
I’m sure the logo shows you two brothers, right? But what does your company name MAALS mean?
Coming up with the idea for our watch has been far easier than creating the brand for it to be honest. At first, we just wanted a cool name, which sounds easy but every idea frankly sounded rubbish. Eventually moving away from trying to be cool, we settled on simply making the brand personal, the more it means to us, then the more we’ll put into it which sounds obvious now I’m sitting here writing it. MAALS which stands for Mark Anthony Andrew Lee Sealey, was born through taking the initials from my brother and my name and tailing it with our family name. Simple and personal.
The BLACK STEEL EDITION I find really cool. How did you get the idea with the drawing on the back? And are you doing all this yourself?
We worked with Leamington Spa based artist OKSE aka Chris Oxenbury, to design artwork for the caseback. Using the watch name as inspiration, OKSE created an outer space star studded scene, with an astronaut reaching out and jumping over the moon, while in the background an alien abduction over Earth is detailed. Every caseback for JOTM, both black and silver, is etched with OKSE’s artwork.
We’ve already decided that the next watches will also have artwork on them related to the watch. So wait and see what guest artist we work with creates.
Please explain your exact time to my readers here. What can the watch (technical data) and why should I of all things decide on a watch from you.
Through the triangular opening neatly step stacked top to bottom, are two rotating discs showing off the movement with its moonphase element, completing its lunar cycle every 29½ days, giving the watch its name.
Pinning the stack is a centrally located metallic sweeping second hand. The inner radius of the sunburst dial shows a 30 second count, while the outer radius counts at 5 second intervals.
What hurdles did you have? Were there times when you said, “So, up to here and no further”;? Or asked differently; Would you do everything the same way or are there things you could have done differently better?!
The 8 hour time difference with our ODM has been hard to work around especially when arranging times for calls and answering emails. The time gap while they go find an answer to a question has also been frustrating. Its required a bit of give and take on both sides setting expectations to keep moving forward.
It’s not been plain sailing getting to here, not that we expected it to be. Our first design didn’t pass our ODM partners feasibility test, nor did the second to be honest, it was third time lucky for us and even that was only after some major changes.
It’s safe to say that our first design was like being a kid in a sweet shop. Hardened ceramics, precious and semi-precious metals, tourbillon movements looked amazing, so did retrogrades and skeleton complications, but were dismissed as being too expensive and too extravagant for our first design.
Design two we chose a Ronda quartz moonphase movement for its potential for modifications and got to work. We set the triangle with the tip at 9 and that’s when we ran into problems. We were adamant about having the movement in minute, hour and moonphase ordered right to left with the moon phase at the tip, our ODM though had the job of telling us it wouldn’t work with the chosen Ronda movement. While the movement could be modified to have discs, the moonphase portion at the centre of the movement couldn’t be moved without destroying the movement.
We pushed back against our ODM and went through a few of Ronda movements (sorry!) trying to make what we wanted, but in the end enough was enough – it wasn’t going to work as we wanted.
It wasn’t all bad news though because fundamentally the design was sound, it just needed tweaking and obviously a completely different movement……simple.
To make the design work, the entire layout had to be rotated 45°, with the tip of the triangle at 6 and minutes, hours and the moonphase in that order top to bottom. That change would also give us the name of the watch, not that we knew that back then.
We set up a WhatsApp opinion group of friends, who definitely aren’t shy in giving their opinions and sent them the design which they critiqued with gusto, eventually leading us to;
Shrink the triangle and round off its points
Reposition the logo on the so it’s clearer
And a completely new finish
Sitting down to finalise the design, we moved the second hand to centre point in line with the top of triangle, agreed upon leather NATO style straps (which we changed our mind on later) for a retro modern look and finally confirmed our new watch, would be available in brushed stainless steel with a red second hand and that we’d also offer a black steel version.
The next design will be a mechanical movement and we’ll change how we do our promotion and pre-orders. We’ve learnt a lot from this watch launch which we’ll put into practice next time. We’re also considering opening our focus group to watch enthusiasts who’ll help shape our designs.
What else can we expect from you?! I mean the 70 have brought many classic watches on the market, and your penchant for Italian cars makes me hope for more beautiful watches. What’s the plan?
We’re currently working on the a new design, with elements from JOTM. We’ve got it down to a choice of 3 mechanical movements, and It will have a complication in it, but I’m not going to give any spoilers away I’m afraid, you’ll just have to keep an eye on us to see what comes next! Maybe you’ll be part of the expanded focus group….
What else would you like to say to my readers that I may not have asked
Keep an eye on us, we’re already well into our next design with prototypes coming soon 😊
Here you find MAALS:
The clocks just look beautiful. My daughter is hot on the black version, I love the silver one very much. We hope that we will soon hold these two watches in our hands and can write a separate report about them. Andy, what do you think? 🙂