Hanhart Pioneer MK I | Hands On Review

Hanhart Pioneer MK I   Last year Hanhart introduced the Hanhart Pioneer MK I,  a tribute or homage to their first watch, the Calibre 40, introduced in 1938. I might be a little behind in reviewing this model but when I got the chance, I jumped on it, as I have always loved the design of Hanhart watches and wanted to see if they looked as good in person as they do in photos. Spoiler: They certainly do. What makes this watch stand out is not just the precision craftsmanship that is evident in every area you look at, but also a heavily modified Valjoux 7753 automatic movement to allow not only for a monopusher, but also the pusher itself, as it was moved a significant amount from the crown for easier operation of the two. The Hanhart Pioneer MK I is a combination of beauty and engineering, inside and out. Hanhart Pioneer MK I Specifications: 40mm Stainless Steel Case 15mm Thick 49mm Lug to Lug 20mm Lug Width HAN3601 Caliber Movement (Base Valjoux 7753) Sapphire Crystal 100 Meters Water Resistant Leather Strap Price: $2270 USD (Watchbuys.com) http://www.hanhart.com/714-200-0110.html?___store=en A lot of brands claim to have their own caliber of movement, or will relabel a base movement with their own, only to have added some rotor decoration. This does not make it their own caliber or a modified movement. I would describe that as pure marketing shenanigans. Hanhart, on the other hand, actually did heavily modify the 7753 movement for use in the Hanhart Pioneer MK I. Hanhart works with to La Joux Perret to make some very interesting and complex chronographs. For the MKI, they have made it a monopusher, where the red ceramic pusher starts, stops and resets the chronograph. What most might not notice at first glance, is the position of the pusher. It is not lined up with the 2 as most would be, it is moved more between the 1 and the 2 which allows more space between the pusher and very large crown. Another modification was completely removing the date, not just on the dial, but entirely. The HAN3601, which again its base is the 7753, has the following specs: BPH of 28,800, 27-jewels, hacking and hand-winding and 42hr power reserve. Someone mentioned on a forum the other day that this watch punches above its weight. And it does. The Hanhart Pioneer MK I not only has a modified automatic chronograph, but the construction of the watch is one that will make you feel your money was well spent. That is not marketing speak on my end, nor is it to make you run out and grab one of these. Not my job to do. I do feel my need to convey though how well made this piece is. I’ve seen watches twice the cost that did not have the same level of finish. The massive crown is easy to grab, feels great to turn and is a pleasure to set the time. When it comes to quality, the component that shows how well made this watch is; the AR coated sapphire crystal. I honestly think this is overlooked by most manufactures and maybe even some watch enthusiasts. The crystal and dial is what is looked at most in a watch and when a cheaper grade of sapphire is used or a sub par AR coating, it affects the entire watch for me. It doesn’t just effect how the watch looks in photos, (which can be a huge pain in the butt), but how it looks in real life, how easily you can see the time at a glance, and how you have to move your wrist around so you can remove your reflection out of the crystal. The Pioneer MK I suffers none of these issues. The crystal and AR coating are fantastic and a pleasure to photograph and also stare at, not to look at the time, but rather appreciating the German craftsmanship. Do not roll your eyes at that sentence, we all sit there and gaze at our watches with admiration. The dial of the Hanhart Pioneer MK I has a distinct military vibe and the dial is not cluttered with text that does not belong. I love the cathedral hands, even though I do see many other brands using them these days (mainly microbrands), they are not as saturated in the market as say the Mercedes hands are. Another feature that may be overlooked is how the minute and second hand curve to the dial and crystal. While it may not sound like much, I feel it allows the hands to be even more noticeable at any point on the dial. Removing the date was a good choice with the sub dials already taking up the 3 and 9, they would have probably had to remove the 6 to insert a date. Many are probably aware at this point if you have read enough of my reviews that I like a nice solid case back on a watch unless you have a complex or decorated movement. The Hanhart Pioneer MK I has a solid chunk of steel for the case back with clean engraving. Nothing flashy, no planes or propellers here, just a logo and the pertinent info. It does make me wonder though with such a modified movement why they decided to cover it up. I doubt it was for water resistance considering this is a pilot watch with only 100 meters of water resistance. Whatever the reason, I do like the overall look of the back and think it adds to the toolish feel the Pioneer has going on. There are a few MINOR issues I have with the Hanhart Pioneer MK I, though I do not feel issues are the way to describe them. The first is the overall thickness. While I know much of that is due to the movement, when a 40mm watch is almost 16mm thick, it seems to exaggerated it even more, and at times the watch can feel top heavy. A thicker/heavier strap could balance that out though. Another quibble comes from something that I personally never will use, but bothered me nonetheless. That is the super smooth moving bezel. It just moves around so easily with the touch of a finger or rubbing it against a car seat, couch etc that I do not feel it is of any real functionality. Finally, the stock strap is on the short side, making my 7 1/2 inch wrist feel massive. If you have an 8 inch wrist, you are not going to be able to wear this strap. I actually doubt it will fit anything over 7 3/4 inches if being honest. Hanhart Pioneer MKI lume I think it is obvious that I love the Hanhart Pioneer MKI. Sure, I have a few nitpicks, but I can do that with almost anything. The watch just looks great, feels great and while not a large watch, still commands attention when on the wrist, or at least I feel it does. Has anyone noticed my watch this week besides the people that I told to look at it? “Look at my watch dammit, its German!” Well, I went off the rails there for a second, but all jokes aside, it is a fantastic piece of German engineering and design and a nod to Hanhart,s prestigious past. For some reason Hanhart flies under the radar. Maybe because they do not spend millions of dollars on advertising each year, which who can blame them? If you are familiar with this brand, I think you will understand my admiration for them and this Pioneer MKI. If you were unaware before reading and watching my review, I at least hope it will give you the urge to look into the history of the brand and the beautiful pieces they produce. They are not the cheapest out there, but I would consider what you get from them a value. Special thanks to Chris Shortell for loaning me this watch for review.

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Hanhart Pioneer MK I | Hands On Review

Hanhart Pioneer MK I   Last year Hanhart introduced the Hanhart Pioneer MK I,  a tribute or homage to their first watch, the Calibre 40, introduced in 1938. I might be a little behind in reviewing this model but when I got the chance, I jumped on it, as I have always loved the design of Hanhart watches and wanted to see if they looked as good in person as they do in photos. Spoiler: They certainly do. What makes this watch stand out is not just the precision craftsmanship that is evident in every area you look at, but also a heavily modified Valjoux 7753 automatic movement to allow not only for a monopusher, but also the pusher itself, as it was moved a significant amount from the crown for easier operation of the two. The Hanhart Pioneer MK I is a combination of beauty and engineering, inside and out. Hanhart Pioneer MK I Specifications: 40mm Stainless Steel Case 15mm Thick 49mm Lug to Lug 20mm Lug Width HAN3601 Caliber Movement (Base Valjoux 7753) Sapphire Crystal 100 Meters Water Resistant Leather Strap Price: $2270 USD (Watchbuys.com) http://www.hanhart.com/714-200-0110.html?___store=en A lot of brands claim to have their own caliber of movement, or will relabel a base movement with their own, only to have added some rotor decoration. This does not make it their own caliber or a modified movement. I would describe that as pure marketing shenanigans. Hanhart, on the other hand, actually did heavily modify the 7753 movement for use in the Hanhart Pioneer MK I. Hanhart works with to La Joux Perret to make some very interesting and complex chronographs. For the MKI, they have made it a monopusher, where the red ceramic pusher starts, stops and resets the chronograph. What most might not notice at first glance, is the position of the pusher. It is not lined up with the 2 as most would be, it is moved more between the 1 and the 2 which allows more space between the pusher and very large crown. Another modification was completely removing the date, not just on the dial, but entirely. The HAN3601, which again its base is the 7753, has the following specs: BPH of 28,800, 27-jewels, hacking and hand-winding and 42hr power reserve. Someone mentioned on a forum the other day that this watch punches above its weight. And it does. The Hanhart Pioneer MK I not only has a modified automatic chronograph, but the construction of the watch is one that will make you feel your money was well spent. That is not marketing speak on my end, nor is it to make you run out and grab one of these. Not my job to do. I do feel my need to convey though how well made this piece is. I’ve seen watches twice the cost that did not have the same level of finish. The massive crown is easy to grab, feels great to turn and is a pleasure to set the time. When it comes to quality, the component that shows how well made this watch is; the AR coated sapphire crystal. I honestly think this is overlooked by most manufactures and maybe even some watch enthusiasts. The crystal and dial is what is looked at most in a watch and when a cheaper grade of sapphire is used or a sub par AR coating, it affects the entire watch for me. It doesn’t just effect how the watch looks in photos, (which can be a huge pain in the butt), but how it looks in real life, how easily you can see the time at a glance, and how you have to move your wrist around so you can remove your reflection out of the crystal. The Pioneer MK I suffers none of these issues. The crystal and AR coating are fantastic and a pleasure to photograph and also stare at, not to look at the time, but rather appreciating the German craftsmanship. Do not roll your eyes at that sentence, we all sit there and gaze at our watches with admiration. The dial of the Hanhart Pioneer MK I has a distinct military vibe and the dial is not cluttered with text that does not belong. I love the cathedral hands, even though I do see many other brands using them these days (mainly microbrands), they are not as saturated in the market as say the Mercedes hands are. Another feature that may be overlooked is how the minute and second hand curve to the dial and crystal. While it may not sound like much, I feel it allows the hands to be even more noticeable at any point on the dial. Removing the date was a good choice with the sub dials already taking up the 3 and 9, they would have probably had to remove the 6 to insert a date. Many are probably aware at this point if you have read enough of my reviews that I like a nice solid case back on a watch unless you have a complex or decorated movement. The Hanhart Pioneer MK I has a solid chunk of steel for the case back with clean engraving. Nothing flashy, no planes or propellers here, just a logo and the pertinent info. It does make me wonder though with such a modified movement why they decided to cover it up. I doubt it was for water resistance considering this is a pilot watch with only 100 meters of water resistance. Whatever the reason, I do like the overall look of the back and think it adds to the toolish feel the Pioneer has going on. There are a few MINOR issues I have with the Hanhart Pioneer MK I, though I do not feel issues are the way to describe them. The first is the overall thickness. While I know much of that is due to the movement, when a 40mm watch is almost 16mm thick, it seems to exaggerated it even more, and at times the watch can feel top heavy. A thicker/heavier strap could balance that out though. Another quibble comes from something that I personally never will use, but bothered me nonetheless. That is the super smooth moving bezel. It just moves around so easily with the touch of a finger or rubbing it against a car seat, couch etc that I do not feel it is of any real functionality. Finally, the stock strap is on the short side, making my 7 1/2 inch wrist feel massive. If you have an 8 inch wrist, you are not going to be able to wear this strap. I actually doubt it will fit anything over 7 3/4 inches if being honest. Hanhart Pioneer MKI lume I think it is obvious that I love the Hanhart Pioneer MKI. Sure, I have a few nitpicks, but I can do that with almost anything. The watch just looks great, feels great and while not a large watch, still commands attention when on the wrist, or at least I feel it does. Has anyone noticed my watch this week besides the people that I told to look at it? “Look at my watch dammit, its German!” Well, I went off the rails there for a second, but all jokes aside, it is a fantastic piece of German engineering and design and a nod to Hanhart,s prestigious past. For some reason Hanhart flies under the radar. Maybe because they do not spend millions of dollars on advertising each year, which who can blame them? If you are familiar with this brand, I think you will understand my admiration for them and this Pioneer MKI. If you were unaware before reading and watching my review, I at least hope it will give you the urge to look into the history of the brand and the beautiful pieces they produce. They are not the cheapest out there, but I would consider what you get from them a value. Special thanks to Chris Shortell for loaning me this watch for review.

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Armand Nicolet J09 | Watch Review

Armand Nicolet J09 Armand Nicolet is a brand that I know in name, but not overly familiar with their watches. It is not one that I see the watch community post about on social media, such as Instagram or Facebook Watch groups often. After receiving this model for review, the Armand Nicolet J09 Day/Date, I honestly had to wonder why this brand has not been getting the love it deserves currently. Now, keep in mind, I am saying that I have not personally seen a lot of mention of their watches, it does not mean you haven’t, they could have just not been on my radar for some reason. They definitely are now though. For those not familiar, the Armand Nicolet brand has been around since 1902, and was named after its founder. In 1988, the brand was sold by Willy Nicolet, the founders son, and though not family owned anymore, they have continued making watches in Switzerland, with designs being done in Italy. Armand Nicolet J09 Day/Date Specifications: Mechanical automatic movement with Day&Date functions. Calibre AN2846-9. Guilloché dial with luminous indexes and hands. Case with antiglare treated sapphire crystal on top and sapphire crystal in the see-through screwed back. Case and Buckle: Stainless Steel 316L Water Resistance: 5 ATM Diameter: 41mm Thickness: 12.5mm Lug Width: 24mm Lug to Lug: 50mm Strap: Stainless Steel 316L MSRP: $2700 USD http://www.armandnicolet.com/collections/j09/day-date/watch-d650aaa-gr-pi4650na/ If you have not watched the video yet, you may notice I show it on both a bracelet and a rubber strap here in the photos. That is because I had the company send the rubber strap as well, to show some of the ways the Armand Nicolet J09 Day/Date can be configured. There are just way too many options for this model for me to list, but you can purchase them with either a bracelet, leather strap or rubber strap, and depending on what you choose, you can pick up one of the other straps as well, at an extra cost. Depending on what you choose, it really does change the look of the watch from sporty to dressy and somewhat industrial looking on the bracelet. The Armand Nicolet J09 Day/Date is an interesting watch, for many reasons. First, the size at 41mm, yet it has a 24mm lug width, something rarely seen on a watch this diameter. If you have a small wrist or like a smaller watch, this can be deciving. It really wears like a round 43mm would wear. For myself, I love the size, it is in right in between that small and large. It would be a medium if we sized watches like we do shirts. On my 7 1/2 inch wrist it is damn near perfect, and I still have not decided if I like it better on the bracelet or the rubber strap, but more on that in a bit. As I spoke about in my last review, if a watch is going to have a date, I prefer it to be at the 6 o’clock position. Obviously, the Armand Nicolet J09 Day/Date is perfect for me in terms of date position. The guilloché  dial is something that I love in a watch such as this, it is that something extra that stands out on an otherwise basic dial. Even with the day and date, the dial is fairly clean, and applied markers keep it classy. One thing that has perplexed me with the Armand Nicolet J09, is that I do not know what category to lump it into. It is not a dive watch of course, nor a pilot or field watch. It is not a traditional dress watch, even though with either the bracelet or an alligator leather strap it can surely play the role. It is not your typical sport watch, even though the rubber strap does give it that sporty feel. I guess I would call it dress casual. The type of watch that can be dressed up for the office and dressed down for the weekend when going to your favorite pub. The very low water resistance prevents it from being an all around do everything type of watch, but if you are not regularly jumping into the pool or ocean mid day, you should be fine with this on the wrist. The heart of the Armand Nicolet J09 is the Calibre AN2846-9, which is basically an ETA 2846 automatic movement that has been customized with a beautiful rotor. While this movement is not an in-house masterpiece, it is not a movement you see used all the time, and Armand Nicolet has dressed it up for sure. This is how I like a movement to look if it has an exhibition case back.  A bracelet has to be well made and very comfortable for me to want to wear these days. I almost always prefer a strap, as many readers might know. I have gone back and forth on this, and while the rubber strap has a very nice deployant clasp, I think the winner is the bracelet. It is very nicely brushed, has a beautiful buckle with a stamped logo and just flows with the watch head perfectly. One word of caution though, the Armand Nicolet J09 uses double headed screw bars, and they are very, very tiny screws. And you will need two screwdrivers to size as well. I would suggest sizing over a clean table and not in a room that has carpet, as you some in your household might think you have a case of turrets if one rolls off the table into the sea of fibers. Of course, one of the biggest things when reviewing a watch, is the price. At $2700, there is no denying that the price is up there and that a lot of other watches can be considered at this price point. The 15% discount does make it more appealing, and while the movement is not in house or anything, it is nicely decorated and is a solid Swiss ETA that should give no issues. The styling of the Armand Nicolet J09 Day/Date is unique, and when looking at google images and bringing up past versions of this model, they have definitely upgraded it, in terms of dial and hands aesthetic. With a low water resistance and a non screw down crown, it is not going to be that one watch for all occasions, but I think if someone wanted to put something dressy in their collection, but does not go for the standard dress style watch, this might be a good way to go.

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Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 | Watch Review

Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 It still amazes me when I come across a brand I have not heard of. That would be the case with the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 Series. I had to do some research, unlike some brands that I review, as I knew absolutely nothing about this brand. That of course makes reviewing it a little difficult. Yes, I have the watch in hand, so I can obviously see if it is quality or not, but where is Dreyfuss and Co. from, how long have they been in business? Well, it turns out the Dreyfuss and Co. has been around since 1890. At least that is when the brand was started. Today they are owned by the Rotary Group. It would seem the brand has changed hands a few times through the years, and honestly it is odd that a brand that has been around for so long is not really talked about much. Much like any other brand that seems to fall off the map, that seems to be due to marketing, or lack thereof. My contact for Eterna reached out to me and asked if I would like to review this new model from Dreyfuss and Co. I could see instantly it was an homage to a Zenith Pilot and that it was Swiss Made, so I said yes. Unfortunately this model is not listed on their website currently, which made me scratch my head a little. Nonetheless, I do have all the info on the model and how to order, as again, head-scratcher, the Dreyfuss website is not set up for E-commerce. Listed below in the specifications is an email you can use to order directly, if you are so inclined. Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 Series Specifications: Dimensions: 44mm case 12mm thick 22mm lug width 51mm lug to lug Eterna Calibre 39 Mechanical Movement Sapphire Crystal Screw Down Crown Alligator Embossed Leather Strap Retail Price $1450 USD To order, Email Dreyfussenquiries@rotarywatches.com I want to get right into the heart of the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 Series, the Eterna Calibre 3902M movement. This is part of the Eterna 39 series movements, which from the base over 88 movement references are now being produced. This is an in-house movement with a power reserve of 65 hours. For some that have seen the previews, Eterna is releasing a bronze Kontiki at Baselworld this year, that will house the automatic version of this same movement. Winding is smooth as silk on my example and to be able to get a watch such as this with a quality movement from a respected brand such as Eterna is quite nice. There is an obvious relationship between Dreyfuss and Co and Eterna, so it seems they are able to put these movements in watches that others would probably charge more for. It is a great movement in my opinion, and if nothing else, nice to see something different than the standard ETA or Sellita. At 44mm the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 is modest in size for a pilot watch, especially for this style. Most pilot watches like this are in the 46-48mm range. Because of the super high gloss black enamel dial,  high polished accents on the case and crown, and with the alligator patterned leather strap it can easily work as a dress watch. While I know its inspiration is a pilot watch, it does not scream pilot watch, at least to me. Because it is only 12mm thick, this should easily be able to fit under most dress cuffs and I think would look quite suitable at the office or at a function when you need to pull out the nice duds. I love the enamel dial of the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924. It is always interesting to me how your tastes change over the years, but they almost always do, and while years ago I did not like a glossy dial such as this, now I gaze at it over and over and I am enamored with how you can see the reflection of the hands and markers in the dial. Speaking of the markers, large Arabic numerals are at play here with polished chrome borders. The numerals are applied and quite thick, and because we all need to see what time it is when we can’t wait to leave our spouses late night office party at the bar we would never otherwise frequent, they are filled with copious amounts of lume. You know how I tend to complain about useless boxes and packaging that you will just throw in a closet to take up space, only to be seen again if and when you decide to sell or give the watch away? Well, the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 presentation box is one that you will want to use, if not have on display. It is a massive lacquered wood box that holds 5 watches. This box is almost furniture grade. I am not sure how much this box cost to manufacture and if they could have sold the watch even cheaper had they went with something more standard, but to be honest, if more brands gave you a storage box such as this with your watch, I would not complain at all. If I was to change a few things with the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 Series it would be that you need two screwdrivers to remove the strap; one piece threaded screw bars are much easier to remove and also they usually lessen the chance of stripping the screw heads. Also, no tools are included in the packaging. The other thing would be that the leather strap is black. I know, that is so highly subjective, but for me, a glossy brown Horween or even a brown alligator pattern leather would look so much better. I have a thing for black dials and brown straps. It just looks luxurious to me. Still, the leather strap is pretty nice, and it fits my 7 ½ inch wrist comfortably. LUME As I stated in the beginning, there is no doubt the inspiration for the Dreyfuss and Co. 1924 Series. It is an homage, and that is a little strange as it is weird to see a Swiss Company that has so much heritage and past models of its own it can use for inspiration. Be that as it may, Dreyfuss and Co. has produced a beautiful watch with a great movement for a relatively affordable price point. The watch is quality through and through and to be honest, I would not have been shocked if I was told it was $2000. I am not sure why this brand is not marketing their new product more, I mean this model is not even on the website! Looking through it, I only found two dealers listed on their website as well, both in England. They need to start selling through their website direct or start getting these out to more distributors. As for the watch, if you like the style, it is tight, as the young kids say. Actually I have no idea what the young kids say, because to them, a 36 year old might as well be 80. That aside, it’s a hell of a watch, and if any of you end up ordering one, I would love to know your thoughts on it. Peace out. (Total 90’s reference).

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