MICRO MONDAYS: The Branch Sector offers class and reliability under US$1,000Time+Tide
In the never-ending quest of making vintage-looking modern watches, brands tend to forget one key element: the tactile vintage feel. Getting the yesteryear look right can’t be easy, and getting the vintage feel when holding the watch in the hand seems to be nearly impossible to replicate. That is probably due to the fact that the parts are modern and are built differently, but, never say never, right? Today we’re going to take a look at the first model from a young brand called Branch. The watch in question is the Sector, and most will immediately understand why. Besides the way it looks, handling the Sector reminded me of the few experiences I’ve had playing with vintage timepieces from the ’60s and ’70s. Everything from the crown and dimensions, to the crystal and dial endow the Sector with an undeniable vintage nature.
Naturally, when you speak about vintage-inspired watches, we can expect vintage-inspired dimensions. The Sector measures 36.5mm in diameter, 42.5mm lug-to-lug, 10.55mm thick, and comes with a lug width of 19mm. Besides the ambivalent lug width, the Sector comes with the right dimensions to fit small to medium wrists (as a reference, my wrist is 6.25”/16cm). To be honest, a fair bit of the total thickness of the Sector comes from the super domed acrylic crystal, the first element that makes this model look and feel vintage. This type of crystal adds warmth to the watch without creating distortions at the edges. Some people love the latter and some others do not. Some also find that acrylic, and the fact that it does not reflect light like sapphire, also heightens legibility.
Although I used to worry about scratching an acrylic crystal, a quick Polywatch treatment will remove most of them quite easily. The case has a simple profile, showcasing straight sides and short lugs. There is no chamfer, making the case look geometrical. Branch put the emphasis on the fixed bezel that is entirely polished, while giving the rest of the case a prominent brushed treatment. It’s as if our eyes are directed towards the dial and bezel, transforming the case into a backdrop we should not give too much attention to. Being only 10.55mm thick, the Sector feels good on the wrist and sits flat. A discreet, flat and unsigned crown can be found at the 3 o’clock position and constitutes the second element that gives the Sector a vintage feel. Winding the crown comes with a ratcheting sensation, and the crown spins back just a bit when I let go of it. I’ve only experienced this on actual vintage watches and I do find it fitting here. Note – there is nothing wrong with the movement!
The Sector is offered in only one colour – grey. However, the dial received different finish types which, combined with the sector layout, make it interesting to look at. The centre section comes with a fine sandy texture which is repeated in a thin disc sandwiched between the two scales. The brand kept text to a minimum, with only the logo showing under the 12 o’clock position. The first scale (or sector) encompasses the hour markers and Arabic numerals at the cardinal points, as well as short minute hash marks. It’s completed with a radial brushed texture which generates interesting light play. The second scale sits on the periphery of the dial and showcases a fully graduated minute track complete with Arabic numerals highlighting the five-minute increments. The latter also receives a radial finish.
The elegant sword hands constitute the third element endowing the Sector with a vintage feel. Branch went as far as heat-treating the hands to give them a legit blue appearance, as opposed to corner-cutting and chemically treating them to appear blue. Blueing hands prevents them from tarnishing over time. Although it might be hard to see on photos, both the needle-shaped second hand and minute hand come with curved tips to prevent parallax, and make aligning the hands to the minute and second tracks as precise as it can be. This means reading the time on the Branch Sector is easy and exact. To be frank, I didn’t get the point of sector dials until I got my hands on the Branch Sector. Not only are they easy to read, but they also provide different sets of information which can be used in different ways. For example, timing an event by looking at the seconds hand and its position in relation to the outer track doubles as a chronograph, while one can just as easily read the time thanks to the clear scale showing the hour markers. The Branch Sector is therefore very legible and interesting to look at in addition to oozing some serious vintage vibes.
The Sector can be had with one of two strap options, a grey calfskin leather strap or a brown suede strap. The sample I had came with a distressed brown strap the brand no longer offers. From what I know, the two straps would match the colour and vintage feel of the Sector, complete with a thin profile and a gentle taper towards the buckle.
Branch opted for the Swiss made, manually wound Sellita SW210-1 calibre which beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) and comes with 42 hours of power reserve. Earlier I mentioned the ratcheting sensation felt when winding the movement, something that could be a simple product of the movement itself or the crown or both. Wherever it comes from, it truly endowed the Sector with a vintage feel which I found particularly neat.
Branch Sector pricing and availability:
The Branch Sector is available now and can be purchased directly from the brand’s website. Price: €727
|Case Dimensions||36mm (D) x 10.55mm (T) x 42.5mm (L2L)|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Dial||Grey sector dial|
|Movement||Manually wound Sellita SW210-1|
|Power Reserve||42 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds|