Hanhart 417 ES: The Bundeswehr Chronograph

It’s been almost half a year since my last article. Watches did come and watches did go. I decided to slow down a bit with my media. Two things are the same as ever: I only write about watches from my personal collection and the blog is not sponsored in any way.

The watch I will talk about today is one real classic although some of you may never heard of it: The Hanhart 417 ES. Let’s first have a look at the company.

Hanhart was founded in 1882 in Diessenhoffen / Suisse, a small town near the German border. In 1902 the company moved to Schwenningen in Germany and from now on Hanhart is a true German company. Schwenningen in the Black Forest was one of the capitals in watchmaking in the beginning of the 20th century. In 1924 Hanhart released the first of this type of watches they became famous for, their first stopwatch. Used to measure times in athletics, the former stopwatches were expensive pieces. Hanhart created the first affordable piece and produced them in an industrial level. From this time on Hanhart was the word leader in mechanical stopwatches and you can buy both mechanical and electronic sportwatches until today.

Stopwatch from the 1930s (picture copyright by Hanhart)

Having this know how it was no surprise Hanhart released their first wristwatch with a chronograph complication only a few years later in 1932. In 1957 the model 417 was released in two versions: a chrome plated brass model and a stainless steel version called 417 ES. ES meaning “Edelstahl” the German word for stainless steel. In the same year it became the first pilot chronograph of the airforce section of the German forces (“Bundeswehr”). That’s why it’s nicknamed “Bundeswehr Chronograph”. A piece of this watch found it’s way to Steve McQueens watch collection and he frequently wore it at motorcycle racing. It is said, that this was the favourite piece in his collection.

Hanhart 417 ES from 1957 (picute copyright by Hanhart)

In 2020 Hanhart released a reissue of this famous watch and gave it the same name: Hanhart 417 ES (of course, there is no brass version today). They increased the size from 39mm to 42mm – the only thing I don’t really like on this reissue. I think they should have stayed to the original dimensions. At least for my 17,5 cm wrist.

Hanhart is a very small company today and did not have the ressources for an inhouse watch movement like in 1957. So while the original Bundeswehr Chronograph has a real Hanhart movement in it (Caliber 42) the new watch has a Sellita 510. A reliable workhorse with a handwinding mechanism like the Caliber 42. The movement allows to keep the height at a comfortable 13mm, the length lug to lug is 49 mm. The extremely clear an legible bicompax dial makes this watch a timeless stunner. The logo is the historical logo of Hanhart used in the 50s and 60s. Typical for Hanhart is the red dot on the rotating bezel to mark a fix point in time. With a price tag of 1,750 Euro it is very reasonable priced. I don’t think you can get a better executed chronograph for this amount of money. With excellent finishing, outstanding design and rich history it’s in fact a bargain to my opinion.

The perfect match to this watch is the black “Bund” strap, but if you don’t like this you can get a different strap. I strongly recommend the “Bund” strap not only for it’s perfect look but it feels very comfortable too.
No matter which strap you choose, the watch comes with a very nice and soft black leather watch roll.

From the first release date the Hanhart 417 ES was a big success in Hanhart’s portfolio and so you will have to wait some time until you can get one – the production is sold out for months. But believe me it’s worth the waiting.

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