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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Formex DS2100 Diver | Watch Review

Formex DS2100 Diver Back in January I reviewed the Formex AS1100 Chronograph. Now, 6 months later, I take a look at the Formex DS2100 Diver. Both models share the same mid case, but for the most part that is where the similarities end. This model is a 3 hand with date, with a unidirectional dive bezel and a Sellita SW200 automatic movement. It of course has the patented suspension system Formex is known for and is much more affordable than its big brother that housed the 7750 movement. For this review, we were supplied with the black dial version on a black leather strap. While a leather strap might be an odd choice to offer for a dive watch, I will explain why I think this is more of a dive style watch than a true diver. Formex DS2100 Diver Specifications: 46mm case 53mm lug to lug 14.5mm thick 22mm lug width Sapphire Crystal 200 Meters Water Resistant ETA 2824 or Sellita SW200 Automatic Movement (SW200 as reviewed) Leather Strap Direct Price: $729 USD https://www.formexwatch.com/en/product/2100-1-7020-213/ First, let me be clear. I am not trying to disparage the Formex DS2100 Diver, I am just stating that I feel it is more of the look of a dive watch and not a serious dive watch. And lets be real here for a minute. How many of you reading actually dive? I know there are real divers out there, but I venture to say for my many years in this hobby, both online and off, the majority of watch enthusiasts are not buying 20 dive watches a year because they are diving off the coast of Australia. More often than not, they are buying for look, which this watch does offer. The Formex DS2100 Diver is also a well put together watch, one that a few years ago would have probably been at a much higher price point if you were to buy it at an A.D., instead you are now able to purchase direct. Now, as always, I have some design elements I am not in love with, and feel they could have upgraded a few components, but I will get into that below. Even Formex’s marketing copy is not pushing this is a true dive watch, it says it can be worn under water, at the race track or your daily life. It does not have a crazy water resistance like so many dive watches do these days, nor did they equip it with the silly Helium Escape Valve nonsense. So, what is a serious dive watch? It depends. Most commercial divers do not need a dive bezel, so you have watches like the Aegir CD-1 I reviewed here last year. For regular diving, a dive watch should have good lume, a lumed pip on the bezel and a strap or bracelet that can be submerged in water and and an extension that can fit over a wet suit. The Formex DS2100 does have a timing bezel, but lacks the lume pip, though the action is one of the best I have seen on a dive watch. There is no back play at all. The DS2100 is water resistant to 200 meters and has a screw down crown, but uses a display case back with screws, something that is unusual for a true dive watch and also the lume is just not strong at all. So, the Formex DS2100 Diver might not be a dive watch in the purest form, but it does have the look. So why should you buy it? Well, that is up to you to decide, not me, but the watch is well put together and unique. Much like the chronograph model they have, it has the large 46mm watch, the patented suspension system, sloping lugs that allow the large watch wear comfortably and a really good price once you add everything up. It also does not look like everything else on the market, which is something that is hard to do in 2017. I do however have a few minor complaints. The Formex DS2100 Diver does have a sapphire crystal, but it either lacks an AR coating, or it could use another layer. It has a lot of reflection. The other would be the open date wheel and the word “date” on the dial with an arrow. I will never understand the use of this. If for some messed up reason some noob buys a watch and has no unearthly idea what that number on the dial is, that is what a manual is for. If they do not know enough to look it up in the manual….oh well.   I chose the leather strap option for this review because I liked the way it looked in photos and had previously checked out the rubber and metal bracelet options. The calf leather strap is sturdy yet very supple and wraps around the wrist with no break in period needed. None. The buckle is also custom, something I always love seeing instead of the factory 5 cent special so many seem to slap on a strap. On the Formex Website, you can also choose the size of your strap. The one I have on the Formex DS2100 Diver is a medium length, and fits my 7 1/2 inch wrist with a few holes left, so choose the large if you have a wrist of 8 inches or more. When it comes to movement, at least for the automatic version, the Formex DS2100 Diver houses an ETA 2824 or a Sellita SW200. Christopher Ward is known to list and sell their watches like this as well, where it is not a choice of movement; it is one or the other, I’m guessing based on availability or price. Some people will go back and forth about ETA vs. Sellita, I honestly have not had any major issues with either, and as most know, the Sellita is basically a copy of the ETA, with an extra jewel to help reduce friction with winding (debatable). My only issue with this is you do not know what movement you are getting when you order, though I guess you can email Formex and ask them. If you do not have the cash for an automatic, Formex does have quartz versions of the DS2100 available, which are basically half price. As I was writing this review, I was wondering if I sound too critical. I guess that is for others to answer, not myself. I do think the Formex DS2100 Diver is well made watch and one that stands out. It might not exactly be the watch for me, especially on a daily basis, but I can see the attraction. While it might not be the truest form of a dive watch, it does look the part and without a doubt can stand up to water activity, (just not with the leather strap). If Formex can up the lume a bit, put a little more AR on the crystal and for me personally, make it in a 42mm, I think I would be more inclined to grab one. I know as is there is a market for it, so I may be in the minority.

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Formex DS2100 Diver | Watch Review

Formex DS2100 Diver Back in January I reviewed the Formex AS1100 Chronograph. Now, 6 months later, I take a look at the Formex DS2100 Diver. Both models share the same mid case, but for the most part that is where the similarities end. This model is a 3 hand with date, with a unidirectional dive bezel and a Sellita SW200 automatic movement. It of course has the patented suspension system Formex is known for and is much more affordable than its big brother that housed the 7750 movement. For this review, we were supplied with the black dial version on a black leather strap. While a leather strap might be an odd choice to offer for a dive watch, I will explain why I think this is more of a dive style watch than a true diver. Formex DS2100 Diver Specifications: 46mm case 53mm lug to lug 14.5mm thick 22mm lug width Sapphire Crystal 200 Meters Water Resistant ETA 2824 or Sellita SW200 Automatic Movement (SW200 as reviewed) Leather Strap Direct Price: $729 USD https://www.formexwatch.com/en/product/2100-1-7020-213/ First, let me be clear. I am not trying to disparage the Formex DS2100 Diver, I am just stating that I feel it is more of the look of a dive watch and not a serious dive watch. And lets be real here for a minute. How many of you reading actually dive? I know there are real divers out there, but I venture to say for my many years in this hobby, both online and off, the majority of watch enthusiasts are not buying 20 dive watches a year because they are diving off the coast of Australia. More often than not, they are buying for look, which this watch does offer. The Formex DS2100 Diver is also a well put together watch, one that a few years ago would have probably been at a much higher price point if you were to buy it at an A.D., instead you are now able to purchase direct. Now, as always, I have some design elements I am not in love with, and feel they could have upgraded a few components, but I will get into that below. Even Formex’s marketing copy is not pushing this is a true dive watch, it says it can be worn under water, at the race track or your daily life. It does not have a crazy water resistance like so many dive watches do these days, nor did they equip it with the silly Helium Escape Valve nonsense. So, what is a serious dive watch? It depends. Most commercial divers do not need a dive bezel, so you have watches like the Aegir CD-1 I reviewed here last year. For regular diving, a dive watch should have good lume, a lumed pip on the bezel and a strap or bracelet that can be submerged in water and and an extension that can fit over a wet suit. The Formex DS2100 does have a timing bezel, but lacks the lume pip, though the action is one of the best I have seen on a dive watch. There is no back play at all. The DS2100 is water resistant to 200 meters and has a screw down crown, but uses a display case back with screws, something that is unusual for a true dive watch and also the lume is just not strong at all. So, the Formex DS2100 Diver might not be a dive watch in the purest form, but it does have the look. So why should you buy it? Well, that is up to you to decide, not me, but the watch is well put together and unique. Much like the chronograph model they have, it has the large 46mm watch, the patented suspension system, sloping lugs that allow the large watch wear comfortably and a really good price once you add everything up. It also does not look like everything else on the market, which is something that is hard to do in 2017. I do however have a few minor complaints. The Formex DS2100 Diver does have a sapphire crystal, but it either lacks an AR coating, or it could use another layer. It has a lot of reflection. The other would be the open date wheel and the word “date” on the dial with an arrow. I will never understand the use of this. If for some messed up reason some noob buys a watch and has no unearthly idea what that number on the dial is, that is what a manual is for. If they do not know enough to look it up in the manual….oh well.   I chose the leather strap option for this review because I liked the way it looked in photos and had previously checked out the rubber and metal bracelet options. The calf leather strap is sturdy yet very supple and wraps around the wrist with no break in period needed. None. The buckle is also custom, something I always love seeing instead of the factory 5 cent special so many seem to slap on a strap. On the Formex Website, you can also choose the size of your strap. The one I have on the Formex DS2100 Diver is a medium length, and fits my 7 1/2 inch wrist with a few holes left, so choose the large if you have a wrist of 8 inches or more. When it comes to movement, at least for the automatic version, the Formex DS2100 Diver houses an ETA 2824 or a Sellita SW200. Christopher Ward is known to list and sell their watches like this as well, where it is not a choice of movement; it is one or the other, I’m guessing based on availability or price. Some people will go back and forth about ETA vs. Sellita, I honestly have not had any major issues with either, and as most know, the Sellita is basically a copy of the ETA, with an extra jewel to help reduce friction with winding (debatable). My only issue with this is you do not know what movement you are getting when you order, though I guess you can email Formex and ask them. If you do not have the cash for an automatic, Formex does have quartz versions of the DS2100 available, which are basically half price. As I was writing this review, I was wondering if I sound too critical. I guess that is for others to answer, not myself. I do think the Formex DS2100 Diver is well made watch and one that stands out. It might not exactly be the watch for me, especially on a daily basis, but I can see the attraction. While it might not be the truest form of a dive watch, it does look the part and without a doubt can stand up to water activity, (just not with the leather strap). If Formex can up the lume a bit, put a little more AR on the crystal and for me personally, make it in a 42mm, I think I would be more inclined to grab one. I know as is there is a market for it, so I may be in the minority.

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