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Unique symbiosis of tradition and modernityBASELWORLD 2012: The PIONEER Stealth 1882 Limited Edition

As Hanhart celebrates its 130th anniversary in 2012, the Swiss-German watch brand, which was originally founded by Johann A. Hanhart in the Swiss town of Diessenhofen and still enjoys a reputation as a leading manufacturer of precision timekeeping instruments today, is looking back on a successful and innovative company history.

The brand has been particularly distinguished by its work in developing wrist chronographs. As early as 1938, Hanhart produced a mono-pusher model, featuring its own “Calibre 40” movement. This was followed a year later by pilot’s chronographs for safe navigation in the air, which had a significant impact on both the technological and aesthetic development of these precision instruments. In order to ensure that they could meet the extremely demanding requirements for split-second timekeeping and safe navigation in the air as well as withstanding the harsh conditions of early aviation – such as strong vibrations, huge variations in temperature and magnetic influences – these timepieces had to fulfil extremely strict criteria: they had to be absolutely reliable, precise and robust, perfectly readable and easy to use. Hanhart’s chronographs have always fully satisfied these high standards and continue to do so today.

Limited edition pilot’s chronograph with legendary predecessors

Hanhart is celebrating the 130th anniversary of the brand by introducing a new model, the Stealth 1882, to its Pioneer collection in a strictly limited edition. This model quite rightly prides itself on its association with the legendary Hanhart chronographs on which it is based and is distinguished by all the typical characteristics of these timepieces: the upper chronograph button, positioned asymmetrically towards the lug, is especially striking and is a unique feature of Hanhart. In order to achieve this arrangement, Hanhart integrates a specially designed lever into the case. This redirects the force from pressing the button located at 2 o’clock by the required number of millimetres.

No less eye-catching is the striking red reset button. Legend has it that a young pilot, as he was putting on his Hanhart watch one morning, discovered that his wife had painted one of the buttons with red nail varnish so that he would always think of her and return home safe and sound. This distinctive red button became the trademark feature of the watch brand from 1939 onwards. It deterred pilots from inadvertently resetting the stopped time while navigating during a flight and going off course as a result.

A particularly outstanding aspect of the Pioneer Stealth 1882 Limited Edition, however, is the extraordinary way in which the highly characteristic design of the display has been realised in terms of technology and aesthetics, with two auxiliary dials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. An exclusive and complex modification of the automatic calibre enables both of these displays to be placed right on the edge of the large dial which is housed in a case measuring 45 millimetres in diameter. This brings the aesthetic appearance of the watch perfectly into line with the design of its predecessors: due to the relatively large size – 15.5 lignes – of Hanhart’s manufacture calibre 41, the two displays were spaced widely apart on these early pilot’s chronographs too. In addition, the small round display at 9 o’clock on this model is not simply reserved for the small seconds, as would normally be the case; it also accommodates a 12-hour counter which would usually be omitted from a bicompax display of this kind. As a result, the Pioneer Stealth 1882 Limited Edition remains true to the bicompax display format, yet it features all the functions of a tricompax chronograph.

The Pioneer Stealth 1882 Limited Edition also does justice to the early chronographs from a functional perspective: like these models, it is fitted with a flyback mechanism. While on a conventional stopwatch, one button controls the start and stop functions, another is used for setting the relevant hands to zero and an intermediate stop is required for a restart, this flyback mechanism, designed in the 1930s to facilitate navigation, enabled pilots to simultaneously stop, reset and restart their chronograph by simply pressing a single button. The chronograph hand thus returns to its starting position and immediately resumes its time measurements; there is no need to restart the watch after it has been reset.

Like the “Tachy Tele” pilot’s chronograph from 1939, the Pioneer Stealth 1882 Limited Edition also includes telemeter and tachymeter scales. The tachymeter scale is designed to measure speeds and coils around the centre of the dial in a spiral shape, mirroring the design of the original model. This allows up to three revolutions of the stopwatch hand to be taken into account which considerably extends the measuring range and also enables even relatively low speeds of 60 to 20 km/h to be recorded. The practical telemeter scale printed on the peripheral edge of the dial is used to measure distances, taking into account the speed of sound.

A modern interpretation of a traditional timepiece

What makes the Pioneer Stealth 1882 Limited Edition an exceptionally striking model of its kind is its large case, which measures 45 millimetres in diameter and is made from stainless steel with a hard-wearing ADLC coating and an elegant and gleaming velvety black finish. Since the dial is also deep black, the elements coloured in characteristic Hanhart red particularly stand out. These include the hands and numerals used to measure time and the reset button, which has a high-quality hybrid ceramic coating.

Like the original chronograph models from the 1930s, the design of the Pioneer Stealth 1882 Limited Edition is intended specifically to make the watch perfectly readable and safe and easy to use. The large, glow-in-the-dark numerals at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock, the clear subdivisions for the hours with narrow index marks, the clearly laid-out displays at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, the tachymeter and telemeter scales and the minute indications – all coated with Super-LumiNova® – guarantee flawless readability in any situation. This is further enhanced by the minutes and chronograph hands, the ends of which are bent downwards slightly towards the dial. Both the large, easy-to-handle crown with a deep bevelled edge and the upper button with the increased spacing between it and the crown are easy to operate even when wearing gloves. The bezel is available in either a thin design which can be rotated in either direction and which comes with a fluted, slip-proof finish and red marking made of hybrid ceramic, or in an elegant and plain design with a flat surface.

To guarantee maximum water-resistance and robustness, this new pilot’s chronograph is, like the archetypal models on which it is based, fitted with a sealed, screwed-down case back which includes three indentations for the case key which has always been used for Hanhart watches. This robustness is also reinforced by the strap made from hard-wearing calfskin with black, ADLCcoated rivetting. The easily removable lower strap perfects the look inspired by the early pilot’s watch. A stainless steel pin buckle, also with an ADLC coating, rounds off the distinctive overall design and guarantees a secure fit on the wrist.