History of Hanhart- Precision in Timekeeping

by Timepiece Atelier on Mar 27th, 2021


Aviation watches are the most sought after watches among watch genres. Inspired by aviation, pilot watches are crafted notably for legibility and functionality. Hanhart stands out among the field of aviation watch makers and arguably is one of the best and the most desired timekeeping instrument producers in the world.

Hanhart has long been synonymous with precision timekeeping. They have an impressive 130 years of watchmaking history that has created prestigious collections like Hanhart Primus and Hanhart Pioneer that had become favorites amongst pilots and aeronautical enthusiasts since 1882.


In July 1882, Johann Adolf Hanhart opened a watch shop in his hometown in Germany. This led him to create Hanhart, a German watch brand with Swiss movement, which remains independent and unfettered till this day.

In 1902, the company relocated to the German town of Schwenningen, a town that was known for its strong watch manufacturing at that time. Then, Hanhart’s youngest son, Wilhelm J Hnahart joined the company and began brainstorming and innovating timepieces. In 1924, his hard work had finally paid off and Hanhart was the first watch brand in the world to market a reasonably priced mechanical stopwatch.


It was a tremendous success and formed the foundation for further innovative technological advancements as well as converting the business into a watch factory where the attention would be focused on producing its own unique manufacturing movement. New and enhanced complex timepieces were launched such as the exquisite double stop watch and the ultrafast oscillator which has an impressive 360,000 vibration per hour which added more prestige to Hanhart’s rich watchmaking history. Once again, Hanhart clinched the title to be the first watch manufacturer to enable the measurement of hundredths per second.


After a long time, in 1938, Hanhart had finally designed the chronograph series, simple in operation and perfect in precision. The “Calibre 40” a chronograph movement with column wheel and a flyback function-especially perfect for naval officers. The watch has a black dial and luminous indices and hands for readability even in low light conditions. This timepiece not only became the company’s staple but also became a legend in its own time.


One year later, Hanhart launched the ultimate pilot watch- “Tachy Tele”. This incorporated a tachymeter scale on the center of the dial in a spiral formation so that wearers could measure speed and distance. The buttons were placed at asymmetrical positions and provided for ease of usage and convenience. One of the buttons was painted red to symbolize the love between a young pilot and his wife, where his wife painted red nail varnish on one of the buttons so that he would always think of her and return home safe and sound. This then became the trademark of Hanhart and it prevented pilots from inadvertently resetting the time and conversely going off course.


Army officers and doctors were Hanhart's key target audience, thus they had to innovate a new legendary chronograph- the Hanhart Admiral. It has a shiny case and luminous indices and a red marker on the toothed bezel that revolve in both directions. Quickly, this became a collectors favourite and the most sought-after collection of Hanhart.



All Hanhart timepieces are robust, precise and high in readability. To meet the extreme conditions in aviation- strong vibrations, high variations in temperature and magnetic influences, Hanhart had designed many timepieces that met the strict standards of a chronograph watch. Hanhart timepieces are perfect and have flawless readability in day or at night with the luminous glow paint. The large and grooved buttons also allow easy operation with or without gloves. The buttons are positioned to be are all asymmetrical to protect against vertical shocks. To achieve the optimal readability of time, they made the bezel exceptionally thin and increased the depths of recessed minute and second register bevels.

Till this day, Hanhart timepieces are an indispensable tool for pilots. The chronographs have become Hanhart's main products and with a large following from professional pilots.

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