MAALS watches: Focus interview with founder Andy Sealey

 

MAALS Watches: Andy’s earlier guest post described how he and his brother Bruno set out to start a design-led, affordable watch brand.

Here, FAULT Focus interviews the brand’s co-founder to see what it takes to start a fashion accessory business:

 

MAALs watches co-founder Andrew Sealey

MAALs watches co-founder Andy Sealey

FAULT: What was your primary inspiration for starting MAALS Watches?
MAALs watches co-founder Andy Sealey: We were looking around for new watches and found that the majority of the watches on sale today have the same look, with a few exceptions. Bruno has backed a couple of design-led watches on Kickstarter in the past and we thought, “if they can do it, why can’t we?” 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.

Can you tell us about some of the unique features of the brand?
MAALs watches: We’re a family owned start-up designer and producer and when setting up we agreed that we wanted to be in the affordable area of the market rather than going high-end – that market is already well served – because the affordable market is where we personally sit in when it comes to our own collections. Our collections are paid for through saving and impulse chance finds and we figured there are a lot people like us that want something away from the norm, that looks good, can be a bit of a talking point, but won’t cost a fortune.

We created the design of our first watch, Jump Over The Moon (JOTM), by looking at our own collections and seeing what was missing, in this case a moonphase, and setting out creating something we love to have in our own collections. There are loads of gaps in our collections for instance, we’re missing retrogrades, perpetual calendars, LEDs, something really extravagant like a tourbillon and lots of others. JOTM is just the first in a planned family series of three, so we have plenty of scope when it comes to designs.

MAALs watches

You were both avid timepiece collectors before you launched MAALS but did you have to learn a lot more about the craft of watch-making when you started designing?
MAALs watches: Bruno knows more about mechanicals than I do to be honest, he’s much more into the intricacies than I am. For Jump Over The Moon, the design came first then we worried about how it would work! Not the most efficient way of doing things but it meant we had some absolutely wild ideas. Some were just too complicated, but have elements we can take and use in future designs, but the process of just designing whatever was in our heads was great. For the next watch in the series we’re going to choose the function first so that’s set, then free design again.

What/who were the main influences behind Jump Over the Moon – if any?
MAALs watches: 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.

You decided to work with British artist Okse for the distinctive casebacks on Jump Over The Moon. What drew you to his work, in particular?
MAALs watches: He was at an art gallery exhibition that I was attending, showing some of his comic and super hero artwork, I really wanted his Batman piece, we got talking and went from there. His artwork is excellent and fun which appealed. We wanted the back of the watch to be as eye catching and interesting as the front and bring of a ‘wow factor’ to the back of the watch and Okse delivered in spades.

We’ve agreed that we want him to create new caseback artwork for next two watches in the series too. No idea what he’ll create yet, whatever he does make though it’ll be based on the name we give to the watch.

Is there anything that you think is of particular importance to a beautiful, functional timepiece that a lot of watch designers don’t consider/don’t include in their final products?
MAALs watches: Not sure, really – I’m by no means an expert. Anyone that designs/makes watches or anything does it because they find it fun and enjoy it (well I hope they do anyway), so I hope designers remember to put something of that ‘personality’ for want of a better word in to their designs. Mr Jones is an example of a brand that just seems to be having the time of their lives making crazy timepieces and good on them.

MAALs watches

It’s early days yet but what has been the greatest success story for MAALS so far?
MAALs watches: That’s easy, the reaction to the design when we showed it for the first time and the independent reviews we’ve had so far without a doubt. Sending something you’ve spent time, money, heart and soul in to designing and making, to publications that review watches day-in-day out, is probably the most nerve wracking thing we’ve done so far. We knew they’d rate us on what they had in hand and we could only hope they liked it, if they didn’t then there’d be little to nothing we could do about it and it would’ve been a serious blow to our credibility and our confidence to be honest. Thankfully the reviews have been positive and hopefully it’ll give people confidence in us, our brand and what we’ve created.

And what’s been the greatest challenge that you’ve faced to date?
MAALs watches: Making a design that actually worked. Think kid in a sweet shop and that was us on our first go. Hardened ceramics, precious and semi-precious metals, tourbillon movements looked amazing, but they all spectacularly failed our own and the ODM’s [Ed: original design manufacturer’s] affordability feasibility test, so we stopped, took stock and went back to the start.

MAALs watches

What are you currently working on?
MAALs watches: At the moment we’re concentrating on the launch of Jump Over The Moon on Indiegogo, as that’ll provide the funding and springboard we need to create more watches and push on. We’ve also got advanced designs for a ladies version, carrying over all the same design elements and movement of the current models with the case, dial, second hand, strap and even the mins and hours discs colours being discussed. We’ve set up a small focus group of women to advise us on the design.

What are your plans to expand the line? Where do you go from here?
MAALs watches: After the ladies version it’s on with the next watch in the series which will be a new design, with elements from JOTM so it’s part of the family. We’ve got it down to a choice of 3 movements, 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!

MAALs watches

For more information on MAALS, visit their website:

MAALS.co.uk

~

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MAALS Watches: guest post by co-founder Andy Sealey

In the beginning: the start of MAALS Watches

 

MAALS Watches - #MAALSWatches

Jump Over The Moon brushed steel by MAALS

 

Guest post by @AndyLSealey

My brother and I have always collected watches. None of them too expensive – some old, some new – but all a bit out of the norm in design. After years of talking but not doing, we bit the bullet and finally decided to start our own watch company and design watches that we’d be happy to have in our own collections.

This series of blogs will be about our journey from cool idea to reality. We’ve never written a blog or started a company before, so this is a whole new exciting – but a little scary – world for us. Welcome to MAALS Watches.

 

MAALS Watches - #MAALSWatches

Etched caseback art by The Art of Okse on the steel and black versions of Jump Over The Moon

 

MAALS Watches: the history

 

I, (Andy), 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.

MAALS Watches - #MAALSWatches

Jump Over The Moon black and steel – UK designed, unique moonphase timepieces

 

I started collecting again thanks to my other half who bought me an Armani as a birthday present. My small collection now consists of:

  • Armani
  • Two Skagens
  • 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.

My brother Bruno’s love of watches started much longer ago than mine. Old Mr Manny, who lived upstairs from us in the block of flats we lived in when we were both young, used to repair watches and taught him about movements and some basic repair bits for mechanical watches.

 

MAALS Watches - #MAALSWatches

Jump Over The Moon black steel by MAALS

 

MAALS Watches: the watch collectors

 

Time moved on and so did we. Bruno went to Uni in Liverpool in the 1990s where he brought his first watch: an Adidas sports watch, with money from being a lifeguard and working for the university. He had been given several by then but this one was with his own money. That was followed quickly by one of the first Puma watches, which he unfortunately lost. Several digital watches came and went while living and working in Japan, which would have been exceptionally cool if he still had them.

His collection today is very eclectic and goes like this:

  • Adidas sports watch
  • Next Prism
  • 1973 Damas 17 jewels automatic jump hour
  • Swatch London
  • Swatch California
  • Zirro Mercury
  • A Skagen
  • A Mondaine
  • Citizen Eco Drive Stealth
  • Lip Mach 2000 Chronograph
  • Xeric Xeriscope Square
  • A Garmin fitness tracker/sports watch

And

  • 3 Disney watches

I did say it was eclectic…

 

MAALS Watches - #MAALSWatches

Jump Over The Moon black steel with MAALS handmade leather watch pouch

 

MAALS Watches: The brand

 

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, frankly, every idea sounded rubbish. Eventually moving away from trying to be cool, we settled on simply making the brand personal. The idea being that the more it means to us, then the more we’ll put into it. It all sounds so obvious now that  I’m sitting here writing it…!

MAALS stands for Mark Anthony Andrew Lee Sealey – the initials from my brother and my name tailed with our family name. Simple and personal.

After that it was just a question of researching the watch market, creating a unique watch design, finding a reputable manufacturing partner, creating business and finance plans and lots more besides…

Still: at least the name is simple.

 

For more information on MAALS watches, visit http://maals.co.uk

Follow MAALS watches on Facebook | Instagram |

Follow MAALS watches co-founder, Andy Sealey, on Twitter