A while back I started having an interest in a Bi-Compax Chronograph to fit into my existing collection. My price ceiling was set at $3500 USD, but I really wanted to keep it under 3k. I looked at Kurono's latest offerings, Baltic, Longines, IWC, Mido, Sinn, and others. The Kurono was a beautiful-looking watch with an awesome-looking dial. The Sinn and IWC are real tool watches both very utilitarian but like the Kurono were more than I wanted to spend. Longines was a tough call, it has heritage it had good looks, and is priced at the cusp of what I wanted to spend but in the end, the hanharts specs were just too hard to pass up. I chose the Hanhart 417 ES Flyback Chronograph because it packed a punch for the price. Hanhart is a watch company that was created in 1882 in Switzerland where it started manufacturing stopwatches used for military use and later moved across the Rhine to Southern Germany in the Black Forrest where it expanded its product line to making pilot watches and watches used for car racing.
This watch comes in both 39mm and 42mm I opted for the 39mm, it also comes in either a panda or reverse panda and this was a tough choice. I ended up going for the reverse panda because it would be easier to see the time at a glance because of the contrast between the white hands and the black dial. The watch is 46mm lug tip to lug tip and 20mm lug width. The thickness of the watch is 13.3mm which is more than acceptable for a chronograph. The 39mm variant gets a solid case-back with anti-magnetic properties (up to 16.000 A/m), while the 42mm gets a see-through
sapphire case lacking anti-magnetic properties. It is also shockproof with hanharts own proprietary system.
The finishing of the watch is superb, with beautiful brushing on the sides of the case, with a highly polished bottom edge of the case which gives the perception that the case is thinner than the 13.3mm that it is. The lugs are brushed with the exception of the rim of the lugs which gives the lugs a nice reflection when hitting the light, a lot of thought went into this watch and the subtle characteristics like the polished edges on the lugs show they went the extra mile which they didn't really have to.
The movement is an AMT5100 M hand wind movement from Sellitta, it is a column wheel equipped with flyback capabilities this is Selittas entry into the field of higher-end movements. The movement has been used within the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback chronograph previously, and now makes its way into the Hanhart at a bit more of an affordable price point.
The lume on this watch is excellent not only are the hands and Arabic numerals heavily lumed so are the subdials. The white subdials against the matte black dial have excellent contrast and with inside AR-coated sapphire crystal, the watch has a three-dimensional look. Another thing that really sticks out is the choice of a gothic font of the hanhart name on the dial and the gothic "h" on the large crown. The feel of the crown is excellent and quite fulfilling when hand-winding or setting the time. As mentioned above it has a bi-directional coin-edged bezel with a red marker at the top which can be turned with ease to use for timing events along with the chronograph function or without. The chronograph function is excellent the start/stop pusher has a nice click, the flyback complication is the icing on the cake, and it is great for use at the gym when doing timing events. I almost forgot to mention the leather strap it came with is absolutely the best strap I ever received on a watch for under 5k, very high-quality calfskin leather with a bund pad that can be removed. I decided to keep the bund pad on as it is very comfortable and is the only watch in my collection with a Bund strap, I may take it off in the future.
The watch also came with an exquisite leather carrying case that is not an afterthought it was well designed and protects the watch when traveling. The hanhart name is embedded both on the inside and outside, and the interior has nice suede flaps that rest over the watch.
Now the negatives
I definitely tried to find negatives with this watch and the only thing I can come up with is a subjective view of this watch design itself. I find there are a couple of reasons why someone might not find this watch to their personal liking. Some may not find appealing the side-by-side subdials, the panda/reverse panda design might not be of interest, and some may not be interested in a pilot or a chronograph watch. Another thing that may be a negative to some is the bi-directional coin-edged bezel with the red timing marker. The solid case back on the 39mm might be seen as a negative but the solid case back ensures this watches anti-magnetic properties. If you do not care about anti-magnetic properties and do not mind a bigger watch the 42mm comes with a see-through sapphire back
All in all I do not see any negatives with this watch it is designed to fit the function it serves. I would have liked to see more dial options in non-panda/reverse panda versions including all-black and all-white dials and subdials but I think I still would have chosen the reverse panda.
To complete my review
The watch was better than I expected, I am really digging this watch and it arrived at a time when I was at a loss as my favorite watch my JLC is going to be sent back to Switzerland. I was worried about the comfort of the watch on the wrist being that on paper it was a thicker watch than I usually like, I was worried that it would be like my Omega SMP 300 Chronograph which is 16mm and does not get a lot of wrist time because of its thickness but the thickness of this watch has not been an issue, especially with this awesome strap. The white subdials on the black dial are just striking, the handset and font of the Arabic numerals are perfect for this style of watch, and the gothic hanhart name on the dial really adds a touch of class to the watch. The watch might not be as beautiful as others that it competes with in the same space but to me, it exceeds the price In my opinion. When on the wrist you can't help but notice that this watch is not going for any beauty contest but it is a watch that is to be used as a precision tool meant for serious timekeeping.