I remember the day I first saw Maals’ Jump Over The Moon. I was sitting in my car, waiting for a colleague. As I was early and had plenty of time to do the usual search for watches. I rushed through my saved searches on the second-hand markets before I logged in on Kickstarter, the site that makes my mind go into a very critical mode. From all the cheap, minimalistic, Bauhaus-wannabe watches that want to conquer the world to the ones that really offer something that stands out, both in design and quality. I’ve seen things that are funded beyond the stars, not knowing why, to gems that won’t make it through. It’s all about what the market wants, but sometimes I wonder what’s going on…
Then, while scrolling through the various projects, something different appears. A triangular window on a warm, silvery dial really caught my interest. As a fan of the old jump hour watches I was delighted to see someone who shared my fascination and dared to create a watch that looked like nothing else I had seen for years.
After wearing both versions of Jump Over The Moon for a while and getting to know the story how this watch came to life, I must say that there is a lot to like about it. After some conversations with Andy, the director of Maals, I can very much relate to the passion that has resulted in the JOTM. Even though starting a watch blog can’t be compared with creating your own watch, it is, in a smaller scale, the same enthusiasm and passion that drives you to do something more than just buy, wear and collect.
Witnessing a market filled with watches and designs that mostly looked the same and the love for the jump hour watches from yesteryear, the guys behind Maals wanted to create a reasonably priced watch that would both be different and fill a gap in their own collection. If you combine that with the fact that the main design was set before they knew which movements that would be suitable for the desired modifications, you’ll know the enthusiasm this project is built upon. It’s probably not the easiest way to go, but when driven by excitement, the path from start to finish often will be filled with some unforeseen bumps and turns.
In the search for a suitable manufacturer, Maals went through several continents before ending up in Hong Kong. The hard work towards the final product had begun and to match the preferred design with a suitable movement wasn’t the easiest task. The first two designs were rejected, but after some changes they finally got a combination that would lead to the watch we know today. Many new watches that appears, chooses quartz movements to keep the prices to a minimum, but when Maals decided to go with the Miyota 6P24, it was for several reasons; the price and it was the movement that could be modified to support their design, consisting the central second hand, the hour- and minute-discs and a moonphase complication.
Looking at the watch, the triangular window on the lower half is the main attraction. I would go as far as saying it is almost impossible to look elsewhere when you see the watch for the first time. From the soft corners to the layers of discs, this design is very pleasant. Another detail that I feel is very important, is the name and logo. When you are creating something from scratch it can be very difficult to come up with a good name and a proper logo. Some might sound and look good in the start, but after some time it doesn’t have the same punch or statement as you planned. I feel that Maals has done a great job creating a logo that is both beautiful and recognizable. The font, size and thickness complete the rest of the design very well and adds calmness and balance to the unique dial layout.
The JOTM brushed steel version has a warm, bright, domed silver sunburst dial, a red second hand and indexes and black numerals. On top you will find a domed mineral crystal with anti-reflective coating on the underside. The case is made of brushed 316L stainless steel and measures 42mm across. The length is approximately 52,5mm and the width between the lugs are 20mm. By the numbers it might seem like a large watch, but it wears smaller due to the design of the lugs and the low weight. The signed crown is placed at three o’clock and is a bit small, as you can expect from many watches with quartz movement. The thick, brown leather strap with white stitching is of high quality. Few things can beat the smell of soft, high-quality leather! At the end of the strap you’ll find a big and bold buckle made from the same brushed, stainless steel as the case, with “Maals” engraved nicely.
Another great detail is the artwork on the snap-on caseback. Okse, the UK based artist has really made the hidden part look good and contributed to give the JOTM some attitude and charm. A cartoonish astronaut jumping over the moon, with the earth in the background being zapped by an UFO. Not the usual caseback, but definitely one of the cooler ones out there.
The JOTM black steel has the same features as the brushed steel version but differs in (the lack of) colors. It’s all black, from the 316L PVD case to the strap and buckle. A domed, black sunburst dial with grey indexes, numerals, second hand, name and logo are a cool combination, but also where you will find the biggest issue; the readability. In daylight you will be able to tell the time quite easily, but when the dark arrives you will struggle. The brushed steel version is slightly easier to read as the black steel is almost impossible. You might think applying lume would solve the problems? The thing is that the numerals on the minute and hour discs are too small to paint properly and adding some on the dial is of no use other than being aesthetically nice. Even a fully lumed dial wouldn’t help since only action going on is the second hand, not very capable of showing the time by itself.
Another thing that didn’t suit my style or preference is the strap and buckle. It’s nothing to do with the quality or finish at all, but for me the thickness of the strap and the size of the buckle dont’t fit the design of the watch. Most of you will probably love the feel and attitude, but for me it’s a bit too much. Must I blame my wrists for not being able to cope with materials rougher than a soft cotton sleeve? Maybe, but still I feel these straps belong on a large pilot’s watch. If fitted with a red and black nato strap, the watches would get the urban attitude I feel they’re made to have.
The black box the watches arrived in is made of solid cardboard and has the unique artwork from Okse placed on the lid. The watches are safely secured with bubble wrap and lies on a bed of black, shredded paper. As an extra option, you’re able to order high-quality leather pouches, handmade by Fizzarrow. On the side of the pouch you will notice a red zipper and might wonder why it’s there. If you decide to buy several, you will be able to connect them in a chain. It matches the brushed steel version perfectly and will be a suitable travel companion. It’s not padded, but the leather is soft and will add the needed protection.
So, to finish off this review, it’s no doubt that Jump Over The Moon is a cool and charming watch. You can grab yourself one for £249, a ridiculously low price if you look at what this watch offers. Even if the readability issue lies in the back of my head, it isn’t enough to stop me from putting Maals’ first watch in the “like-section”. As much as it is an instrument made to tell the time, this watch is also about making a statement, a functional accessory that differs from most. On their journey from being collectors to creating their own watch, Andy and Mark Sealey have managed to not only bring a refreshing timepiece to life, but they have also caught my interest on a level where I’m very curious about their next release.