As brands continue to successfully look to the past as they design watches for the present, a number of stylistic elements from as far back as the 1930s can be seen in modern watches. One of these anachronisms is the sector dial, an attractive layout of the dial that is typically defined by closed concentric circles that segment the dial. In this layout, there is a sense of order and control that comes from the portioned spaces of the dial, which remind a little of the structured designs of Art Deco, blended with the minimalism of the Bauhaus movement. As Longines breathed new life into this dial with their new Heritage Classic that they released last week, I thought I’d have a look at some of the best sector dials of the last few years.
Dan Henry 1947 Dress Watch
The Dan Henry 1947 Dress Watch is possibly the best-looking sector dial you can find on a budget. At 40mm in diameter and 12mm thick, it is a little larger than would have been normal in 1947, but it is perfectly sized for the wrists of today. With the charmingly applied Roman numeral indexes that sit within the brushed chapter ring, and the elegant leaf hands, it looks fantastic. For $190 USD, it also represents sensational value.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date
The Master Control Date by Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most well-recognised sector dials in a modern watch. The blued syringe hands add another dash of vintage to the dial, and nicely complement the blue highlights along the minute track. It’s a classy watch at 39mm, from a brand that was there in the golden days of the sector dial in the ’30s and ’40s.
Atelier de Chronométrie #1
Hailing from the Spanish city of Barcelona, Atelier de Chronométrie is a small team of watchmakers who are working hard to revive a “romantic understanding of haute horlogerie”. Every watch they produce is a unique piece, with design that is influenced by the 1930s and ’40s, and their first-ever piece was a sector dial watch with a seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. If you want a handmade sector dial watch, this could be your answer.
Patek Philippe 5296G-001
This wouldn’t be a complete list of mid-century inspired dress watches if it didn’t include Patek Philippe, and the 5296G-001 is a shining example of how to do a sector dial right. The case is 38mm of 18k white gold, and at only 8.6mm thick, it’s a properly sized dress watch that will slip under any cuff.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Square with Sector Dial
In 2015, Laurent Ferrier created a buzz with their entry to Only Watch when they offered a stunning stepped cushion-shaped case watch oozing with vintage charm, thanks in part to a sector dial. Combined with a full onion crown, lance hands and straight lugs, someone picked up an absolute beauty when they won the bid on this piece.
IWC Portugieser IW5445-01
While this IWC Portugieser is on the larger size of most dress watches, at 44mm, the impact is softened by the black dial against the black alligator leather strap. Contrasting the dark inky dial is the hour markers and the circular sector marking, which is only interrupted by the small seconds at 6 o’clock. The manual winding movement offers 46 hours of power reserve, which should be more than enough to get you through your next black tie event.