Hanhart Pioneer One
The Hanhart Pioneer One. A watch that many wanted but never happened. Until Now. Going back through Hanhart’s history, they only made chronograph watches, with one exception; The Pioneer Preventor 9. While that was not a chronograph, it lacked the fluted bezel and red marker and also had a small seconds disc instead of the traditional second hand. The Pioneer One is the first three hand automatic from the historic brand and is now available in two dial colors, black (as shown here) and white, both with matching date wheels. For many, this is a dream come true. Hanhart took design elements for this model from the the 417 ES Flyback, an iconic watch from the 50’s that was once worn by the famous Steve McQueen in one of his movies. Coming in at around $1000, it is also one of the most affordable modern Hanhart Watches to date.
Hanhart Pioneer One Specifications:
- 42mm Stainless Steel Case
- 12mm Thick
- 51mm Lug to Lug
- 22mm Lug Width
- Fluted Bezel with Red Marker
- 8mm Crown
- Matching Date Wheel
- Sapphire Crystal Front and Back
- Sellita SW200 Movement with Signed Rotor
- Brown Distressed Leather Strap with Rivets
Price $1000 USD (Roughly)
Before I get into how much I adore this piece and my few minor quibbles, let me clear up some confusion a few might have. This is not the first version of the Hanhart Pioneer One to be released. That honor would go to one that was done for a German Watch forum. That one is no longer available. The other one is a Watchbuys (Hanhart Distributor in US) limited edition, of which only 150 are available, and I am sure that number is dwindling fast. There are a few differences between the LE versions and this regular production version, most notably would be vintage colored lume instead of standard C3, a solid case back and the exclusion of the date. They both seem to have a darker case finish or blasting as well. I included a link to the Watchbuys website, because the limited version is in stock at the time of this review being published. I have no idea how long they will last.
The Hanhart Pionner One has very much the same look as the MK I Monopusher Chronograph I reviewed here last year. This one comes in a little wider though at 42mm, though it is noticeably thinner at 12mm thick. This watch is svelte and should fit nicely under any shirt cuff or jacket. I can not deny I absolute love this case design and overall aesthetic. It is just a darn attractive watch to me. It is classic, has that military field/pilot look and goes with almost anything. Hanhart kept the dial very clean and chose to not put the model name on the front and while there is a date wheel, it blends in nicely with the dial. The Arabic numerals are of course easy to read and when you look close, you can see the circular pattern beneath them. The base dial is matte finish and while I do like it, it can be considered a little bland.
Unlike the limited versions of the Hanhart Pioneer One, which have dark PVD or blasted cases, the standard version utilizes 3 different finishes. The fluted bezel is blasted, underneath is a polished ring, the mid case is finely brushed and then you have a polished crown. On the case back you will find both brushed and polished parts as well. I really like the way that Hanhart did this. When you write it all down or say it, it sounds like it may be all over the place, design wise. When you look at it though, it is a different story. It all works together nicely and shows an attention to detail. Hanhart could have easily just went with all brushed, especially at this price point, but they chose to make it a little more sophisticated.
Beating away inside the Hanhart Pioneer One is the Sellita SW200 movement, which as we all know is basically a clone of the ETA 2824. I have no issues with this movement, never have, and as you may know, many companies have been utilizing this movement. With the nature and style of this watch, I would have preferred the engraved Hanhart solid case back, but I know they needed to differentiate it from the LE models, so they went exhibition sapphire. The laser cut rotor is a nice touch, and gives a little eye candy to an otherwise plain movement.
So, let’s get to my two issues. They really are not issues, but just a few things I noticed. One is the fluted bezel. I know it is the design and function of it, but it just moves too easily for me. I just wish it was a little tighter is all. The other is the buckle. It is a plain thumbnail buckle and not the same solid custom buckle like on the Pioneer MK I that I reviewed. It was a slight letdown. I do also find the strap to be on the short side and because of the very low profile of the Hanhart Pioneer One, the large crown can dig into the back of your hand, depending on how you wear it.
I rarely expect good lume from a watch of this style, but Hanhart always seem to impress me in this department. Even though it is not a dive watch, they loaded up on the lume. Below are two pictures, a glamour one showing off the lume with a good amount of light still in the room, and one of it actually in the dark.
I think it is pretty clear how I feel about the Hanart Pioneer One. It is a fantastic watch, from a fantastic company, that after all this time is still underrated, which makes me scratch my head. Not only is Hanhart a huge part of the history of watches, but these days, their watches are very affordable for what they are and how well they are made. The Pioneer One is of course even more inexpensive as it lacks the chronograph movement, but the quality is still there and Hanhart continues to punch above their weight. It is great piece from a great brand, and here is hoping to more variations of this model in the future, like 40mm or 44mm versions, different dials, etc.