An interview with Deni Mesanovic
How One Man Designs and Sells Watches, Sunglasses, Microphones and More
Deni Mesanovic is a man of many talents, and somewhat astoundingly, he manages to put them all to use running multiple businesses simultaneously at an extremely young age. A 2013 graduate of the the University of Michigan with a degree in sound engineering, Mesanovic quickly established himself with Mesanovic Microphones, handcrafting ribbon microphones in Detroit, MI. Ribbon microphones, for the uninitiated, are incredibly delicate to use, let alone engineer, and these early efforts gave Mesanovic the experience he needed to begin his second business venture, Pelton, in 2016.
Pelton’s raison d’être is “to bring luxury watchmaking to the USA like never before, and indeed, Mesanovic manufactures as many components as possible (including a steel bracelet) in his Detroit facility using his own machinery. In 2019, not content to simply rest on his horological laurels, he launched an eyewear collection of handcrafted sunglasses using materials from leading suppliers in the eyewear industry, including frames from Italian Mazzucchelli acetate and German hinges.
We spoke with Mesanovic about his diverse skill set and interests, his business, and what other products he has in the works.
Q: You studied sound engineering in university and subsequently founded a ribbon microphone company. What did you learn from this first experience about business and manufacturing?
A: I learned a ton in the first few years of Mesanovic Microphones. At first, the microphones I was making were completely made using old-fashioned manual mills and lathes. As the business grew I transitioned into using CNC machinery, so there was a lot to learn there from the manufacturing side of things. Over the years I developed several new microphones but kept refining the manufacturing process and the quality control/testing process. From the business side it was a great experience being able to get our products into dealers all around the world and traveling to pro audio trade shows. Meeting customers face-to-face at trade shows or at studios is the best way to get feedback for our current and future products.
Q: What caused you to then begin a watch manufacturing business? Where did the interest in watches come from?
A: I’ve had a passion for watches from an early age and it has always stayed with me. After having acquired all the machinery and knowledge in microphone manufacturing I decided one day to try machining a watch case for fun while the machines were not making microphones. One thing led to another and I decided to start Pelton. The idea was not to start a large-scale watch manufacturing operation, but rather small scale with an emphasis on hand finishing. I personally machine, hand-finish, and assemble all the watches myself and I plan on keeping it this way for the foreseeable future. It also occurred to me that there was no one manufacturing a metal watch bracelet in the USA. I saw this as a challenge and a great opportunity which lead to the integrated bracelet design of the Perseus.
Pelton, Mesanovic’s second business venture, manufactures watches, sunglasses and leather goods
Q: What parallels can you draw between designing microphones and designing watches? What about their manufacture?
A: From a manufacturing standpoint they are quite similar. They’re both made on the same CNC machinery in our shop, but the watches require dozens of hours of hand finishing which the microphones do not. From a design standpoint they couldn’t be more different. The microphones are purely tools designed for professional audio engineers. The aesthetics of the microphone are nowhere near as important as the performance, so almost all of our attention to the design is from a technical standpoint. The watches on the other hand are from a purely aesthetic design standpoint since we are not manufacturing the movements ourselves. This is certainly a challenge since we don’t really know how customers will react to the watch design, but we can be almost certain how they’ll react to a microphone that we know sounds and performs at a high level.
Q: Next you tried your hand at sunglasses. What informed your decision to manufacture and market the glasses within the watch company? What were your aesthetic inspirations for the glasses?
A: Sunglasses have also been another area of interest for quite some time and I’ve collected them for several years. I never intended Pelton to only be a watch company, but rather a collection of products that have always interested me and a way to experiment with design/aesthetics, which is not something I can always do with the microphone company. The designs of the sunglasses are certainly more traditional and timeless rather than some current trends, but with lots of options in the acetate colors and patterns.
Q: Can you outline some of the challenges of manufacturing three very different products under the two different companies?
A: The biggest challenge is keeping all the parts and suppliers in order and making sure to have things scheduled several weeks in advance for manufacturing. For example, before I begin machining and production of a batch of microphones I need to make certain I have watch parts on hand for any future orders while the machines are manufacturing microphone parts. It would be very costly and time consuming to stop the production of one product to quickly make a missing component of another product. Also, making sure I don’t accidentally post a microphone photo on the Pelton Instagram is quite the challenge as well!
Q: Do you have plans for any future product categories? Or have you reached your saturation point with mics, watches, and glasses?
A: I don’t have any new product categories planned for Pelton, but I am working on a new product for the microphone company. I can’t say too much at this time, but if everything stays on schedule we are planning on announcing it at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in January. It will feature our ribbon technology, but in a totally different product category.