Today we had a chance to take a first look at –and handle –some of the new pieces from Hanhart’s new Pioneer Racemaster collection.  Made of a special, nickel free steel alloy dubbed HDS Pro, claimed by Hanhart to be more than 100 times harder than conventional stainless steel, they’re a great new direction, we think, for Hanhart, which had struggled in recent years to forge a more progressive identity that still paid homage to the wonderful classic pilot’s chronographs –with their distinctive asymmetric red re-set button –for which the company was known.  The new Racemaster models come in three flavors:  the GTM, which is a monopusher configuration; the GT, which is a two button chronograph; and the GTF, which is a flyback chronograph; all are self-winding, vibrating at 28,800 vph and water resistant to 10 bar.

Though at 45mm they’re large, assertive watches, the size and heft are well in accord with the oversized pilot’s watches for which Hanhart was famous in the early days of aviation, and thanks to the slim bezels and positioning of the sub-dials they wear well –damned well –on the wrist.  A great new start for Hanhart, these are just different enough from its historic models to stand out but not such a radical departure as to break continuity with the spirit of the firm’s classic models –a very welcome sign of renewed vigor from what was once an enthusiast favorite in the USA, and which looks to be back on track in a big way.

Final pricing TBD.  PS, our introduction to these watches was over lunch and was punctuated by the entertaining sight of Hanhart Sales and Marketing Manager Roderich Hess fiercely attempting to mar the case with a steak knife, to no effect.