Mike Stuffler, Watchuseek moderator and German watch expert, Mario Gaspar from Czech & Slovakia watch forum, and I visited HANHART factory during our visit to Black Forest region. Hanhart manufacture is in Gütenbach, a small village in southern end of the Black Forest with an estimated population of 1200 people, and about the same population of sheep and cows.
Felix Wallner and Simon Hall, co-managing directors of Hanhart, guided us through the old building which is still breathing the spirit of former times. Felix and Simon pointed out that almost 80% of their production consists of mechanical and electronic stop watches and 20% is wrist watches. But the sales are just the opposite – 20% revenue from stop watches and 80% from wrist watches. This is the reason you will find a lot of pictures of their stop watch production and very hardly any of the wrist watch assembly, which is done elsewhere. Only the final quality control, repair and service is done in Gütenbach. Hanhart is still a well-known brand worldwide, primarily for their stop watches.
Simon and Felix took us around the whole building which houses the refurbished offices upstairs, the production of stopwatches and other time measuring devices on the first floor, parts stock room, shipping department, the wrist watch department (service, QC, repair) and a cool museum explaining the history of Hanhart.
Most of the components for their stopwatches are made in-house. Their annual output of mechanical stopwatches is about 4000 pieces. The number of quartz devices leaving the factory is in the 5-figures range still under 50.000. And there is still a huge demand for stopwatches, not only in sports but for industrial purposes as well.
Those old Hanhart parts are not for sale, unfortunately. However, a popular request is for the empty crates with Hanhart marking.
This watch for sure isn’t a Hanhart but a one can never have too much fun in the spirit of “cuckoo clock” in the Black Forest.
After completing the ground floor tour, we visited the wrist watch floor. Hanhart isn’t a big player in the wrist watch world. They produce about a thousand wrist watches per year. They are working to increase the production. Hanhart uses ETA movements, but modifies them with La Joux-Perret for the asymmetrical chronograph pusher between 1 and 2. They also use modules from Dubois Depraz or Soprod where applicable and/or useful. Pioneer models Mk I, Mk II and TachyTele are equipped with ETA 7753. However, Hanhart will be gradually converting them to Sellita SW 500 movements.
All watches were presented in showcases so we did not have an opportunity to photograph them up close. But that did not stop us from picking out our favorite watch to purchase in near future. Mario and my favorite was the MK1 Monopusher chronograph, and Mike liked the Primus Black Ops Pilot.
Finally, we were shown the Hanhart Museum, which had a lot history and showcased the significant role Hanahart played through the various decades.
We highly recommend this museum to anyone visiting Gütenbach. It is kind of a temple of Hanhart watchmaking. You can experience the meticulous care and love with which the collection has been compiled to showcase the history of Hanhart.
The museum showcases a lot of old tools and work benches of the former Hanhart watchmakers. There are also showcases with the legendary movements Hanhart made (cal. 41 for example). But the museum also displays some of the old stopwatch movements. Simon and Felix proudly presented us a Hanhart spy watch including the very hard to get recorder a watch enthusiast from the US gifted to the museum.
We thank Felix and Simon for hosting us, and thanks to the entire Hanhart Team for making our Flieger Friday very special. The next beer is on us. Prost!
For more info please visit Hanhart website.
Editorial and Photo Credit: Mike Stuffler and Bhanu Chopra
Feature Photo Credit: Scott Sitkiewitz