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Hanhart Pioneer MK I (English)


Editor’s note:

This post is an edited and expanded version of original content first published on 26/04/2020.

Founded by Willy Hanhart in 1882, Hanhart was originally based in Switzerland and subsequently moved to Germany. The full history of the brand can be found here.

In 1924, Hanhart notably created the first affordable mechanical stopwatch for use in track and field. In 1938, Hanhart developed the Caliber 40, a monopusher chronograph movement, for its first wristwatch.

Issued to the German military during, and after, WWII, the Caliber 40 and its successors were widely used and highly regarded. Substantial additional information about its role in the military is available on Konrad Knirim’s fabulous website dedicated to military watches (Militäruhren).


The Pioneer MK I is a homage to this historic watch, recreating the look and functionality out of new components, while staying true to the original piece.

Most significantly, it features the HAN3601 movement, a Swiss-made monopusher chronograph based on the ETA 7753 and further developed in collaboration with the manufacturer and modifier La Joux Perret.

It is housed in a fully German-made steel case. The 40 x 15 mm case stays true to the original design and features long lugs that square off sharply. The bi-directional and non-ratcheting fluted bezel is a very pronounced element of this design, with the fluting being at the same time an ornate decorative detail, and a tactile one meant for grip.

The watch comes equipped with an anti-reflective convex sapphire glass and a screwed-down case back, providing water-resistant to 10 bar/10 ATM/100 m.

On the right side you have a massive crown, a detail that carries over from historical models, as most pilot watches had large crowns for use with gloves, and the signature feature of all Hanhart chronographs: the red ceramic single-pusher for the chronograph. 

Finishing off is the matte black dial, clean and clear in true military style and featuring a primary index of lumed (Super-LumiNova) Arabic numerals, surmounted by “Cathedral” style hour and minute hands that are once again drawn from the original 1938 model. 


Hanhart have both age and provenance, and, something rare in today’s large conglomerates world, are still independent. The watches are handled and assembled by a small team in a village called Gütenbach in the Black Forest region, each watch getting a lot of attention.

If you’re a true pilot watch fan, this is the watch for you as the Pioneer MK I is unlike pretty much anything else out on the market today. It can be purchased directly from the manufacturer for €2,040, including VAT (for EU customers) and world-wide free shipping.

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