Hanhart… There’s something about this watch manufacturer that makes me go a little bit soft. We can all agree on watches of a certain quality are very lovable. Top grade materials and movements, sweet designs and details, great readability and luminous parts all over the dial, a soft and solid strap with a beautifully engraved buckle are all elements that drive us towards our favorite brands and their watches. But why, in the vast ocean of manufacturers, do just a handful of them turn on the switch that makes our hearts beat a little faster, making us feel like we’re a little bit in love? There’s no right or wrong answer to that, people are different and attracted to different styles and preferences. From the guys and girls that want to get hold of the most popular watch, just to be able to flash it in a watch group on social media, the die-hard enthusiasts that love their watches beyond trends, investment opportunities and “what’s hot” articles, to the ones who actually use their watches as they are meant to be used, below the surface, in the field, up in the air and above the atmosphere. I’m not sure where I fit in, probably in a sub-genre, mixed up by many different aspects, resulting in a fascination not understandable to anyone that isn’t into watches at a certain (emotional) level.
I’m not going into the rich history of Hanhart this time, but if you are interested, you can read my review of the PIONEER TwinControl to get a little glimpse from their early years. This time I’m jumping straight to the watch, the Hanhart PRIMUS Carrier Pilot. The watches in the PRIMUS series are not timepieces, they are time-machines. Not as in time travelling, but as in heavy duty machinery. The robust body, the flexible lugs, the screws, the solid, fluted bezel surrounding the large, convex, coated sapphire crystal, the easy to operate pushers and crown, the slightly busy but highly legible dial, filled with luminous hands, dots and indexes, and the badass attitude that is almost second to none. But behind the hardcore looks and attributes, Hanhart has made it easy to recognize the PRIMUS, being a product made with passion and respect, deep inside the Black Forest. The red, anodized aluminium pusher and marker on the bezel, the bicompax layout, achieved by using the HAN3809 movement, a Valjoux 7750, modified by La Joux-Perret, the focus on details and the immaculate finish from top to bottom are some of what you get if you choose to go for a PRIMUS. Even if Hanhart isn’t a brand that’s on a lot of wrists in my part of the world, sadly enough, hearing about unsatisfied owners, faulty watches or other negativities is a rarity. Should, most unlikely, a “Monday’s watch” find its way to the market, I know the good people at the facilities in Gütenbach will sort it out in style.
The PRIMUS Collection is made up of four categories; Racer, Diver, Pilot, Desert Pilot. Some Special Editions appear, but these are the four main categories. The base is similar, with the bicompax layout, containing the small seconds and the 30-minute counter, the 10 ATM water resistance and the flexible lugs, but in each segment, the watches have differences in the case finishes, details on the dial, colors, straps and lume.
The blue PRIMUS Carrier Pilot is part of the Pilot series and is dedicated to the aircraft carrier pilots and the extreme conditions they face while trying to land their aircraft at a floating airport. A short runway on a moving vessel, fog, wind, rain and darkness are some of the dangers these pilots must face. With the Carrier Pilot, Hanhart offers great readability, durability and robustness, to make timekeeping as easy and reliable as possible.
Taking a closer look at the heavily sandblasted case, measuring 44mm across, from 48mm to a maximum of 53mm from lug to lug, due to the flexibility, and a healthy 15mm from the bottom to the top, it’s no secret this watch isn’t made for a life covered by the sleeve of a slim fit shirt. The royal blue dial is certainly not minimalistic, with its sub dials, date window and Super Luminova® coated hands, numerals and indexes. But behind the quite hardcore exterior of sandblasted edges and curves, hinges and buttons, its sheer beauty lies in the small details. The supreme finish, the two screws below the sub dials, perfectly aligned, bringing peace to a mind overly focused on symmetry, the second counter that resets to zero with nanometer accuracy, the amount of Super Luminova® used to make it readable in all conditions and of course the red, anodized aluminium candies that tells you, with the slightest look, that this is another Hanhart gem. Also, let’s not forget the hidden part, the beautiful movement with the skeletonized Hanhart rotor, showing through the exhibition caseback. The depth of it all, the jewels, the blued screws and golden balance wheel and gear trains can keep me staring for hours.
Watches aren’t only about good looks, specs and reliability. If a watch is uncomfortable to wear, all the positives will slowly fade away. The watch will probably end up in the box, randomly tried out before heading back to the darkness again.
So, how’s the Carrier Pilot on the wrist? The solid, 24mm textile strap with leather inlay needs a little while to soften, but after some time it’ll become smooth and let you take full advantage of the flexible lugs.
As mention earlier, the weight and size are substantial and I’m afraid that these grams and millimeters are the reason why a relationship between the Carrier Pilot and me won’t work. Having wrists that also can be measured in millimeters and grams, I must acknowledge the fact that this love story isn’t meant to be. To fit my wrist, the watch would need to be smaller, something that would ruin what the PRIMUS is all about. Would James Cameron use Sting as the next Terminator? It’d probably be a bit interesting and suit a limited audience, but in general, it’ll be all wrong. A bad comparison, but you’ll get the point...
So, to sum it up, the Hanhart PRIMUS Carrier Pilot has so much to offer! It is a fantastic watch in every way, only not for my fragile wrist. If you can handle the power this time-machine offers and requires, and you’re looking for a cool pilot’s chrono, look no further. This is your watch!