From production of a limited edition, inexpensive quartz watch, to bespoke one off commissions; that’s where UK based MAALS seem to have landed….
MAALS was started by two brothers in England, in 2017, following their own passion to design and manufacture small runs of affordable watches. They have, however, already created 2 pieces, from concept, through design and ultimately production.
Usually influenced by a love of all things design and Italian cars, their preference is still to design and create eye catching, high quality timepieces that they would be happy to have in their own collections. This watch, however, was to be based around diving and (depending on who you ask) probably doesn’t fit into the inexpensive category.
Co-founder and MAALS designer, Andy Sealey, explains how the Sligo bespoke creation came about:
Sligo is a 1-of-1 commission that came about via a DM on Instagram. The client liked what we did with Dreamchaser (our first ever commission, with a Guilloche green dial) and asked if we’d be making anymore of them. I told him we weren’t and got talking about watches he liked and how we could design him his own watch. Ultimate exclusivity, literally nothing else like it. Sligo is the name the client chose. It’s the name of a village in Ireland where his grandad was from, its also the name of his boat charter and diving company over in Florida. And yes, last I spoke to him he regularly goes diving and swimming in it. Yep, a divers watch actually being used while diving, go figure!
Face & case
The 44mm case is made from brass, has been polished and then plated with 2N gold and polished again. A green coated, unidirectional aluminium bezel frames the dial and has a polished gold internal ring between the bezel and the sapphire crystal. The bezel has white minute markers at 5 minute intervals, which also have a green lumed coating.
Moving inwards, the dial sits under a slightly domed sapphire crystal, which has anti reflective treatment on both sides.
There is a thin outer ring in black, which circles the dial and features a white printed tachymeter scale and has the word TACHYMETER in a gold print between 12 and 1 o’clock. Inside this, there is also a ring of seconds numbers, from 1 to 44 seconds and then from 45 to 60, there is a scale split into quarter seconds; all are printed in white, other than 15, 30, 45 and 60, which are in gold.
The dial itself is a matt emerald green sandwich dial; the bottom layer has the 3 chronograph sub dials printed in white on it and features white with green Super-LumiNova® glowing through for the thin straight line indices at 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 o’clock, the MAALS logo at 4 o’clock and numbers 10 and 11.
Chronograph sub dials are located at 12 o’clock (30 minute counter), 6 o’clock (12 hour counter) and 9 o’clock (this is running 60 seconds). The subdials have white rings around their edges and any numerals are also in white. The only other things visible on the dial are the words AUTOMATIC printed in white, at 3 o’clock and and WR 100M directly underneath it in gold.
The hands are all brushed stainless stell, other than the central chronograph seconds hand, which is in a gold finish.
As in most chronographs, the Sligo has a crown and 2 pushers. All have a matching finish to the case; the central crown has a polished end, with the brand name MAALS on the end of it and thin grips grooves, whilst the pushers are polished, with their holders mimicking the grooved finish of the crown. The crown is for setting the time and hand winding, should it be required, the top pusher is to start and stop the chronograph and the bottom pusher is to reset the chronograph.
The caseback is closed, also in solid brass, with a circular brushed effect from the centre out. It is very simple, with a few engravings in the centre – Sligo, WR 100M, Polished Brass, Chronograph and MAALS.
The Sligo is powered by the automatic Swiss Valjoux 7750. A chronograph date movement (there is no date window, but the function is still present), it features 25 jewels, a ball bearing rotor with unidirectional winding and beats at 28.800 vph.
Power reserve should be in the region of 44 hours once fully wound.
At 22mm between the lugs. the strap is made from a green nylon fabric, with white stitching and features a black FKM rubber lining, which looks almost like a tyre track.
The strap is fastened with a relatively chunky, brushed 316L stainless steel pin buckle.
The watch sent to me was a prototype and I am told a few things were tweaked for the final production piece, but I have to say, I was quite impressed by the build quality and overall finish – I’m not really sure what I expected, but I was surprised none the less!
My first impression was probably secured by the sheer weight of it, as MAALS have already stated, not many brands do full cases in brass these days, but the weight gives a sense of quality and on the wrist, I don’t think you would forget it was there.
I’m not usually a big fan of green watches, however, I do really quite like the Sligo, in almost all green, with a deep contrast against the polished gold colour. Although the dial is quite busy, it has been executed in a way that is quite tasteful, using mainly just white for detail, with only afew splashes of gold, which pop out since they are such a close match to the case colour.
Whilst the watch is definitely a brute in the heavyweight category, it is still comfortable; at 14mm high, I would say that around 3mm of that is actually the sapphire and therefor I think it should slide nicely under most cuffs.
The only negative from my own perspective, is I’m not a great fan of rubber straps, however, it makes sense for the owner, as this was designed to be used for diving, which I believe he is doing! Again, strap related, if it was my watch, I would have wanted a brass pin buckle to match the case, but perhaps I am being too picky.
Pricewise, I’m not at liberty to disclose the actual price that the client paid, however, I will say it was around the 10,000 mark and leave it at that (you’ll have to guess which currency I am referring to, too). MAALS have confirmed that bespoke commission pieces can start at around 6,000 GBP and they have recently designed and priced for one in the region of 25,000 EUR, but it obviously depends very much on materials, finishes and complexity of the design.
MAALS is definitely a brand worth keeping an eye on, as creativity is obviously a major driver; as is the desire to produce something different, without putting any boundaries up before they start.