Hanhart is located in middle of the Black forest, in Gutenbach, a town famous for producing clocks and toys. This German brand is best known for its vintage pilot watches. The company can be dated back to 1920s when it began to enter the market with mechanical stopwatches. Currently, the brand offers mid-priced pilots, rally car, and diver watches with vintage appeal. I received Pioneer TwinControl for review and travelled with it for a month.  So let's take a look and see if the brand can live up to its 100-year reputation.

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you will know that we appreciate the value of German-made watches. The value of a watch, in our opinion, is based on its quality, the technology it uses, the class at and style it brings to the owners, all of it -  at a fair cost.

The name Hanhart may not be as popular with watch enthusiasts, but the brand has its fair share of followers, including Steve McQueen with the “417” model. The brand was founded in 1882 by Willy Hanhart in Switzerland. As Willy moved to Germany, he created the first stopwatch that was affordable enough to use in the tracks. The first chronograph wrist watch, known as “Calibre 40,” was first introduced in 1938 with a mono-pusher movement.

Hanhart’s “PIONEER” series is inspired by the “Caliber 41”, a watch released in 1939, an automatic bi-compax chronograph with a flyback function. The Pioneer TwinControl model was introduced at the 2011 Baselworld.  The vintage inspiration was executed well with reproducing the traditional characteristics of Hanhart's watch:  a clean bi-compax chronograph display, flyback function, red chronograph reset pusher, cathedral hands, fluted bezel, and asymmetrical placement of the pushers. One major difference between TwinControl and the “Caliber 41” is that the original flyback chronograph was based on a column-wheel movement compared to the modern version, which is modified Valjoux 7750 caliber.  The stainless-steel case has increased by 2mm to 42mm, and there is a practical placement of date window at 6.

The dial has a clean layout with each function easy to read.  The bi-compax displays a 30-minute register at 3 o’clock, and small seconds at 9 o’clock.  The 30-minute register hand is in red to easily identify the function.  The matt-black dial has a very good contrast with the C3 Superluminova hands and numbers.  The date at 6 o’clock is a practical and useful for travelling (even though many purists may not agree).  There is AR coating on both sides of the sapphire crystal which blocks any annoying glare.

The upper chronograph pusher is asymmetrically located closer to the lugs.  In order to achieve this pusher arrangement, Hanhart integrates a specially designed lever into the case in its own workshop. This redirects the force from pressing the upper pusher by the required number of millimeters.  The red reset chronograph pusher was originally designed to deter pilots from inadvertently resetting the stopped time and going off course as a result.

Hanhart also retained the red marking on the bezel.  Originally, the bidirectional fluted bezel with the inlaid red marking had a functional purpose: it allowed measuring lap times and served a purpose for navigation. Over time, the red marking on the bezel has become more of an aesthetic element.  Hanhart offers a plain, thin bezel as well (and without the red marking). The crown is very easy to operate since it is fairly large with a deep beveled edge.  The only flaw I see with this watch is the height of case.  At 15mm it is not easy to wear it under the cuff.  However, it is true to the original Caliber 41, which was the same height since the case was modified for asymmetrical pusher.

Pioneer TwinControl is fitted with a sealed, screwed-down case back which includes three indentations for the case key.  The calfskin strap is very comfortable and the buckle appears to be of high quality.

In terms of aesthetics and function, Pioneer TwinControl brings good balance between vintage style and modern approach. At a $2,500 retail price, it delivers a good value for a solid build, and performance in its class.

You can view all the models in Pioneer collection here .

Photography Credit: Scott Sitkiewitz