Hanhart – A Historic Swiss-German Manufacturer

By Montredo in Lifestyle
February 25, 2022
Hanhart – A Historic Swiss-German Manufacturer

This story reads like a movie script and goes back several generations. It all starts in 1882 Switzerland, from there it travels via Germany back to Switzerland and once more to Germany. But let’s start from the beginning, because the story of Hanhart watches is worth telling.

From Commodity to Collector’s Item

Johann A. Hanhart is the founder of the company and initially sold stopwatches at the end of the 19th century (his son would even become the market leader in this segment many years later, in 1962). These were in fact almost priceless at the time and came exclusively from Switzerland. Gripped by ambition, the Hanhart family, and above all the founder’s youngest son, Wilhelm (Willy), set about producing affordable and functional stopwatches themselves. Thus, in 1935, the family entrepreneur’s complicated double-hand stopwatch was introduced to the market. New and increasingly elaborate models followed and went into production. Soon the stopwatches were available throughout Germany and by 1939 the company already employed 200 people. The Hanhart chronographs are then also already on the market and years later would become much sought-after collector’s items. The single-pusher “Calibre 40” in particular would soon become Hanhart’s main product and its new edition (2003) would also be a success.

The “B-Watch”

Due to the 2nd World War, the production stopped and Willy Hanhart left Germany for Switzerland during the ongoing denazification. Later, back in the newly founded Baden-Württemberg, he was able to build pilot watches again from 1948, which were already becoming more and more popular before the war. Adapted to the demand of the time, the so-called “B-Uhr” observation watch was created; a 3-hand watch with manual winding. At the time, Hanhart became the sole watch supplier to the German Armed Forces and participated in the watch fair in Basel. At this time, it is mainly pilot watches and chronographs that are becoming more popular. For example, the 417 ES Flyback in a stainless steel case was originally produced between 1953 and 1962 for the Luftwaffe of the German Armed Forces and was also known among connoisseurs as the “Bundeswehr Chronograph”.

Back to Their Roots

In the 1960s, Hanhart returned to its roots and concentrated once again on stopwatches, as demand continued to grow. With the “Amigo”, the brand becomes the largest stopwatch producer in Europe. It sells millions and eventually becomes the world market leader for stopwatches.

In the 1970s, Hanhart very successfully develops its own quartz movement, but price increases due to competition from the Far East leads to a decline in sales. In 1983, Hanhart’s son-in-law Klaus Eble took over the management and developed the LCD stopwatches “Profil”, “Magma” and “Stopstar”. Limited editions follow in the 2000s: The hand-wound chronograph “Opus 41”, equipped with an original historical Hanhart “Calibre 41/42” movement, is made of platinum and limited to a number of 39 pieces.

Today, the Swiss-German watch brand looks back on a long history, has always adapted to the spirit of the times and reinvented itself while never forgetting its own roots. Hanhart is also focusing on this core competence now more than ever: “functional instrument watches for use in the air, on land and on water.” The Primus, Pioneer or the return of the 417 ES collections tell the exciting story of Hanhart. Sporty and with innovative technology, people buy a watch for everyday life and adventure. Today, Hanhart still produces watches itself – an uninterrupted history since 1934.

Go on a Hanhart voyage of discovery now