Review: Pelton Sector

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Pelton is the second entrepreneurial venture of Detroit-based machinist, designer, businessman and all around interesting guy, Deni Mesanovic. His first was Mesanovic Microphones, where he managed to improve on hundred-year-old ribbon microphone technology, successfully machining aluminum ribbons that are 1/50th the thickness of a human hair while simultaneously improving the tiny motors involved in these delicate devices. His other passion is watches, and it wasn’t a huge leap for him to take on the meticulous work of watchmaking. Deni now owns and operates a host of computer-aided and old-school hand-operated metalworking machines dedicated to watchmaking.

Pelton makes their own cases and crowns in-house and, significantly, they also produce the only watch bracelet that can legitimately claim to be “Made in the USA.” That bracelet lives on Pelton’s Royal Oak tribute watch, The Perseus, so we’ll have to leave the impressive 131-piece, handmade bracelet to the side for now. That bracelet is, however, an exercise in proving Pelton’s capabilities, and it’s worth checking out their video of how that bracelet is made in order to appreciate Pelton’s metalworking capabilities.

Those same capabilities go into making the 40-millimeter Sector. When you hold the Sector in your hand the precision is immediately apparent; edges are immaculate and striking, and under the loupe they are even more impressive. Deni told me that the ultra-sharp connections are part of what he sees as an emerging American watch aesthetic. With other companies like Vero and Vortic CNC’ing their own ultra-precise cases here in the USA, he may be right.

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$1349

Review: Pelton Sector

Case
Stainless Steel (Made in USA)
Movement
ETA 2824-2
Dial
Sector in either silver or ruthenium
Lume
n/a
Lens
Sapphire with Internal AR
Strap
Choice of Shell Cordovan, French Calfskin, or Italian Calfskin
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
40 x 47mm
Thickness
9.9mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
10-Sided, Screw-In (Made in USA)
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1349

The Sector’s 316L stainless steel lugs and mid-case are brushed, while the tall chamfered bezel is polished to a mirror finish. Fit is excellent, and at 9.9 millimeters thick with 100 meters of water resistance, the Sector is an easy-wearing and versatile watch. Brushing stainless steel, Deni explained to me, is not an exact science, and even with computer-aided machines he has to finish them off with old-school polishing wheels in order to get rid of microscopic imperfections. The result is ultra-smooth brushing that glows whiter and brighter than your average brushed stainless steel does.

While considering that a young guy from Detroit made it himself, the Sector’s case triggers twinges of American industrial pride. It’s interesting—perhaps even a little controversial—that Pelton hails from the home town of Shinola, who got busted by the FTC for suggesting too strongly that their foreign-made watches were made in the USA (“assembled” would be accurate). Like most micro-brands, Pelton plays no such games and is entirely transparent about what is and isn’t made here on American soil.

For instance, the Sector’s screwed-in crown is also an in-house piece, and it’s lovely. Reminiscent of the older Omega sector dial watches that Pelton is riffing on, the crown is 10-sided—a decagon—which is reflected in Pelton’s 10-pointed star logo, taken from the coat of arms from Prijedor, Bosnia where Deni was born. Unlike those older, small, slippery Omega crowns, the Sector’s is large and quite easy to operate.

Solid case backs are not always exciting, but the Sector’s is an in-house unit that demonstrates Pelton’s metalwork capabilities as much as any other part. The shallowly chamfered edge help the Sector wear comfortably, while the engraving proudly declares the prized phrase “Made in the USA,” an honest “Swiss Mvmt,” a serial number, the star logo, and the watch’s name.

Deni points to the Omega and Longines sector dials of the 1930s as his inspirations. The Pelton sector dial features alternating bead-blasting and circular brushing, and the dial’s metalwork—though not in-house (yet)—is just as impressive as that on the case. The date aperture at three o’clock is well proportioned, handsome, and, unlike most date windows, adds tasteful visual syncopation rather than screwing up an otherwise solid layout. Numerical fonts are appropriately conservative, and the railroad outer track is equally traditional, all adding up to a classic look.

Two colorways are available for the Sector, a silver steel dial and a dark ruthenium-plated one. The contrasting sectors leap off the silver dial while the darker version mellows the contrast for a quieter look. Touches of turquoise around the outer railroad track add a modern flavor to both dials.

The Sector’s diamond-cut leaf hands are well suited to this watch’s vintage vibe. On the black dial the hands are nickle-plated (looks alternately silver, bronze or black at different angles), and on the silver dial the hands are black-plated. Each handset emphasizes legibility by way of contrast against the dial while also matching the color of the numerals and markers, respectively.

I immediately fell for the strap and its clever, svelte deployant clasp. I requested the beige French calfskin strap for the silver sample, and that strap is among the nicest I’ve handled (other options include Italian Calfskin and Shell Cordovan in assorted colors). The pebbled look of the calfskin and the tidy stitching add a dose of dressiness that’s perfectly suited to the Sector’s Dressy Tool Watch sensibilities. The clasp is not made in-house, and Deni told me that he sees no reason to start making his own anytime soon (and he even suggested that tackling an in-house movement would likely come first!). To work the deployant clasp, you slide the end tab through a narrow slot, such that the leather tab rests inside against the wrist. This design reduces bulk significantly, thus eliminating what can be an annoying problem with some deployant clasps that refuse to slide comfortably under a shirt cuff.

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Inside is a standard-grade ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. This choice would be less exciting if Deni didn’t hand tune them to perform within +6/-6 seconds a day. That’s darn close to COSC specs (+6/-4). Some of you might hope, as I do, that Pelton will start going for official certification. It’s an added expense that would require another journey across The Atlantic and back, so I understand why he doesn’t bother, but, for better or worse, I and others still hold COSC-certification and the word “Chronometer” as horological fetishes. There is, however, no practical reason for Pelton to seek official COSC certification, and perhaps passing over the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres plants Pelton’s feet more solidly on American soil.

I’ve already mentioned Vortic and Vero as USA-based contemporaries making their own cases and other bits in-house, and now we can add Pelton to that short list. Deni and I spoke at some length about the emergence of a new watchmaking scene in the USA, and how the demise of American watchmaking over the latter half of the 20th Century cleared the slate for today’s younger American watchmakers. There is very little to build on, and that’s an exciting context within which to see young brands emerge with buckets full of elbow grease and a fearless DIY approach. Whatever one thinks of the Sector (and the Perseus), it’s hard to argue with the fact that Pelton has entered the scene with the ability and drive required to push in-house watchmaking here in the USA.

The Sector is available directly from Pelton for $1349. Pelton

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At age 7 Allen fell in love with a Timex boy's dive watch his parents gave him, and he's taken comfort in wearing a watch ever since. Allen is especially curious about digital technology having inspired a revival of analog technology, long-lasting handmade goods, and classic fashion. He lives in a one-room schoolhouse in The Hudson Valley with his partner and two orange cats.
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