Founded in 1882, Hanhart is one of the few companies in the watch industry that has never stopped manufacturing timepieces. Keen to capitalize on the brand’s rich history and heritage, new president Thomas Morf, formerly with Carl F. Bucherer, is revamping the company, from its product offering to its brand message and marketing materials.
“Unlike companies that went out of business and were reborn, Hanhart was always in business,” Morf points out. “I truly believe that Hanhart has the potential to be an icon. When I was considering joining the company, I went to the archives, to see what made Hanhart Hanhart. Hanhart really mastered timekeeping, so that’s what we are going to focus on.
“I really match the brand – it’s about car racing, motorcycles (they made motorcycle clocks), airplanes and more,” he continues. “I like Hanhart, it’s grounded, it’s not chic. These are watches for men.” The new slogan for Hanhart links to the brand’s legitimacy as a stopwatch and chronograph manufacture: “Others are telling time, Hanhart is measuring it.”
The administrative office of Hanhart is located in Diessenhoffen, Switzerland, a quiet, small village on the German border, while manufacturing takes place just across that border. Hanhart was actually founded in Diessenhoffen and one of Morf’s first moves was to establish the company in this village again.
Due to its Swiss German roots, Hanhart is a no-nonsense watch brand. “Hanhart watches are purpose built – the watches are easy to read, easy to operate, precise, rugged – all these elements go into a Hanhart watch,” Morf details. “Hanhart has supplied various military outfits for decades, and they are using the watches as instruments, so they have to perform.”
Making changes Morf is in the midst of making key changes to Hanhart to put it on the right track, beefing up the collection, changing specs, tinkering with designs and sizes. “We want to become the benchmark of instrument watches, again. We are not a lifestyle brand. For me, it’s about the heritage, the achievement and being purpose built. The brand values are uncompromising, passionate and courageous. Purpose built is a strong statement – you know that the watches are built to do a job.” Hanhart watches are broken into collections of Air, Land and Sea, and ‘Mastering the Elements’ is Hanhart’s new brand claim. The price structure for Hanhart starts at around 2,500 CHF and goes up to 20,000 CHF, with the core range between 3,000 and 5,000 CHF. All Hanhart watches are mechanical, as well.
Basel novelties The novelties for 2011 include the Primus Pilot Dark, the Primus Racer Dark, the Primus Racer Dark Orange and the Primus Racer Dark White (all sized at 44mm). In addition, Morf is introducing new Pioneer models at the larger 42mm size, including the Pioneer MonoControl with a single pusher and the Pioneer TwinControl, which has the traditional asymmetrical pushers and red reset button, also sized at 42mm.
Another new introduction is the 45mm Primus Twindicator, a larger watch that does something interesting to the traditional chronograph layout. “When we moved up to this larger size, we decided to move the twin counters to the outside of the dial, to make it easier to read,” Morf explains. “We combined the sweep second and the hour counter in the same (left) sub dial, so it’s a tricompax in a double compax format.”
Morf is committed to staying true to the company’s heritage, focusing on measuring time with chronographs. Morf can see Hanhart going into more complicated chronographs, like flybacks, split seconds and more. “It’s all about chronographs plus useful functions,” he says. “There are three pillars in Hanhart: the Pioneer chronographs, the Primus chronographs and the dashboard stopwatches. Everything has to start with a strong product. Hanhart is a stopwatch company and a chronograph is a stopwatch.”