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HANHART PIONEER Collection – Mk I, Mk II and TachyTele models

In the 1990s, the Swiss-German watch brand Hanhart harked back to its pioneering achievements in the field of precision chronographs, and introduced a series of faithful replicas of its legendary single-button and pilot’s chronographs.

The Mk I, Mk II and TachyTele models have been creating a stir amongst collectors and connoisseurs of exclusive timepieces ever since. Hanhart has been a key pioneer in the field of reliable, highly functional precision chronographs. In 1938 it designed a mono-pusher chronograph for naval officers with its own “Calibre 40” model. This was the perfect technology for navigating and measuring distances on the sea, ruling out any possibility of faulty navigation by dispensing with the need for an addition stopping function.

This was followed just one year later by the first pilot’s chronographs with Hanhart’s manufacture movement “Calibre 41” – a movement with column wheel and flyback function. Just as their predecessor aided navigation on the water, these chronographs enabled precise navigation in the air, and thus played an integral role in the safe and successful outcome of every flight.

They therefore became a constant companion for the pilots of the time. Legend has it that one young pilot, as he was putting on his Hanhart watch one morning, discovered that his wife had painted one of the buttons with red nail varnish so that he would always think of her and return home safe and sound. This distinctive red button became the trademark feature of the watch brand from 1939 onwards. It prevented pilots from inadvertently resetting the stopped time and going off course as a result.

However, these instrument watches were exposed to far harsher conditions in flight than at sea: strong vibrations, huge variations in temperature, as well as magnetic influences. A pilot’s chronograph therefore had to meet strict criteria. It had to be absolutely reliable, extremely precise and robust. Its design had just one purpose to fulfil: perfect, flawless readability by both day and night, and easy operation – with or without gloves.

Hanhart’s chronographs have always fulfilled high standards and continue to do so today. When the brand re-issued a range of faithful replicas of its legendary chronographs in the 1990s, it carried on its long tradition and maintained its high level of expertise. The Mk I, Mk II and TachyTele models, which now form the Pioneer collection, are distinguished by the typical characteristics of a Hanhart chronograph: the start and stop button at the top, positioned asymmetrically towards the lug (an exclusive Hanhart feature), the red lower reset button, with both buttons equipped with extra-strong nubs, as well as the large, easy-to-handle crown and the thin, slip-proof fluted bezel which can be rotated in both directions and includes red markings for recording time.

All of these features guarantee secure and simple handling. The dial is perfectly readable in any situation thanks to its large, glow-in-the-dark Arabic numerals; the distinctive hands which are slightly curved at the ends and mounted onto the dial with the smallest clearance possible and the bicompax dial design. The two auxiliary dials are configured so that they are set back from the main dial, with the small seconds at 9 o’clock and the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. The original models were produced with an unusually large case – designed with a 40 mm diameter to accommodate the proportions used at the time – which had a matte finish to ensure that the pilot would not be blinded by any dazzling polished elements during a flight.

The stainless steel replicas, however, highlight their exclusive character with elegantly contrasting brushed and polished surfaces. To guarantee maximum water-resistance and robustness, the Pioneer models are, like the archetypal models on which they are based, fitted with a sealed, screwed-down case back, which includes three indentations for the case key. The riveted strap made from firm, hard-wearing calfskin provides a secure fit on the wrist.

The models in the Pioneer collection are based on an automatic calibre which has been converted to a “bicompax” display. Hanhart created its characteristic asymmetrical button arrangement by making modifications in its own workshop: A specially-designed bell rank redirects the force from the pressed button at 2 o’clock by the required number of millimetres.

The Pioneer Mk I is a replica of the “Calibre 40”, the first precision chronograph produced by Hanhart in 1938. All of the chronograph functions on this unconventional model – start, stop and zero setting – are performed by a single button and always strictly follow each other. Unlike its two-button equivalent, the seconds hand on this chronograph cannot be restarted from the point at which it is stopped; the next press of the button invariably returns the spring to the original starting point.

This meant that the calibre used for the Mk I also had to be redesigned slightly. The crank which sits directly beneath the button that would normally be positioned at 4 o’clock has no function. A large shift lever is therefore responsible for the third strike on the chronograph cam. This cam has also been modified by Hanhart so that it has an additional tooth on its lowest level. The shift lever can thus control not two, but three positions.

The Pioneer Mk II is based on Hanhart’s first pilot’s chronographs, produced in 1939. It has two buttons, with the top button arranged asymmetrically and the lower reset button in a striking red colour.

The Pioneer TachyTele has the same design, but features in addition to the stop function two practical scales for the use on the land which are easily readable against the black dial, thanks to their red finish: the tachymeter scale for measuring average speeds is incorporated in the centre of the dial in a spiral formation.

As this scale allows for a total of three revolutions of the stop indicator hand, it considerably extends the measurement range, enabling even relatively slow speeds of 60 km/h down to 20 km/h to be measured. The telemeter scale, which is printed on the peripheral edge of the dial, is used for measuring distances, taking into account the speed of sound.

All models in the Pioneer collection are immediately recognisable as Hanhart chronographs, and represent a unique combination of tradition and the modern requirements of our time.

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