Bonhams, February 23 2016
Sold for: £2,375
At first glance, this single-button Hanhart chronograph circa 1940 appeared to have seen better days – and it probably had. But closer inspection revealed it to be merely well-worn rather than damaged, its well-travelled appearance lending an appealing “steampunk” look that some of today’s watch brands try hard to recreate (think, for example, of Zenith’s recently launched Heritage Pilot model).
In fact, it could probably have served as a template for any modern maker seeking to perfect a vintage effect – only in the case of the Hanhart, it was entirely genuine and made the watch all the more desirable. Add to that, the chunky, riveted leather strap (unlikely to have been original) and the generous 41mm case size and you have a watch that was decidedly cool. And that’s before taking into account the high-quality column wheel chronograph movement hidden inside.
When I spotted this in the Bonhams catalogue with its tempting £500 to £700 pre-sale estimate, I was in little doubt that I wanted to own it. In truth, however, I knew plenty of others would be thinking the same way, and so it turned out as it fetched four times more than expected. Even at that price, the buyer bagged a bargain and I hope he (or she) is wearing it on a regular basis to add to that well-used appearance.
In summary: Worth the money as it’s both an early example from one of Germany’s main producers of pilot watches and it’s still entirely wearable today. Plus, factor in its mechanical integrity and fabulous patina, and the result is a watch any contemporary maker seeking the perfect retro look would be proud of.
Simon de Burton