Hanhart just quietly released the 417ES, a Pilot’s watch famously worn by McQueen, and it’s a sleeper vintage monster Hanhart just quietly released the 417ES, a Pilot’s watch famously worn by McQueen, and it’s a sleeper vintage monster

Hanhart just quietly released the 417ES, a Pilot’s watch famously worn by McQueen, and it’s a sleeper vintage monster

Thor Svaboe


Does this seem familiar? Yes, the popular bronze Hanhart chronograph recently released by some good friends of ours, seen on a Time+Tide editorial wrist here ,is a bronze 417 chronograph. Now Hanhart has remade the original stainless steel icon – a crisp cut classic military pilot’s chronograph with an earthbound claim to fame.

Steve McQueen wearing Hanhart 417 ES in 1964. Photo by Francois Gragnon / Paris Match via Getty Images.

The man among men, daredevil, own stunt-performing suave adventurer Steve McQueen wore one, and not while sipping a latte, I can tell you that much. Motorcycle off road endurance racing – a tough, dirty and bone-shaking job for any watch, including the Hanhart 417ES that we associate with pilots, not muddy scrambler-bike riding action stars. Any watch that can stand 300 miles a day of riding through muddy woods for a week is tough in anyone’s book.


The original Hanhart 417ES is a legendary German bicompax chronograph, only produced between 1956 and 1958 in 500 pieces, and the ES? Edelstahl meaning stainless steel, with the German language being very poetic in this case, meaning literally noble steel. Thankfully devoid of fauxtina, this is a delightfully faithful recreation of the first pilot’s chronograph produced for the German armed forces, so that’ll tick the boxes of both battle-ready, mud proof and fresh.


With the clean cut look and exacting detail work, down to an eminently grippable serrated vintage bezel with a 12 0’clock marker redder than a truckload of tomatoes, there is real history on show here, of the hand wound kind. The Steve McQueen association intriguingly adds spice to the already tough image, but at the end of the day it still timeless emanates a timeless vibe. Clearly associated with the fifties, down to the freshly greenish-white Super-Luminova of the Arabic numerals, low and squat in appearance with the perennial favourites the closed 4 and open 6.


The slight centering of the two registers compared to the original balances the dial  to perfection. The two registers are discretely recessed, while just almost kissing the fat lume of the numerals perfectly proportioned unlike the originals almost touching the rehaut on each side. The perfect balance of the registers might seem a superficial design element, but just like the greenish tinted numbers pop off the silky matte dial, it’s just as important for the legibility of what is in essence a pure tool watch. Reading the time, and timing your flight activity – and/or muddy off road bike riding, this is the tool-expertise of German watchmakers.


Just like a flight instrument in a Spitfire it evokes a certain era, men of derring-do, and the toughness of spirit we all wish we had in us, but we’re allowed to dream, aren’t we?  We do like this year’s bronze version from Revolution, don’t get me wrong, but with the steel version being even more faithful to the original – and the concern that the bronze age might be passing, this steel case is a harder material than bronze, and I’ve always loved that fat-tired Ducati scrambler.


The 417ES-version to go for is undoubtedly for here is the soft and secure sensation of Hanhart’s hand stitched black leather Bund strap. What does Bund mean I hear you ask? Short for Bundeswehr, a.k.a the German unified armed forces. It suits the steel 42mm pilot’s case to a tee, and the monochromatic historic goodness is made even fresher by a personal favourite. That 12 o’clock signal red marker on the bezel is yet another simple yet delightful reminder of small utilitarian details that makes for great functionality, easily dismissed as a design twist.


You only have to take a final glance at the syringe hands and the crispest white print possible, to thoroughly enjoy this historically inspired piece of german wrist-worn engineering. The classic Hanhart script is brought back specially for the 417ES, with the classic capital serifed SHOCKPROOF at 6. Though from the muddy shot of Steve McQueen, we know, Hanhart. Feeling adventurous? This is the 42mm tool for the pilot or enduro-rider in you, with charming reflections coming through the thick, domed sapphire. The Hanhart 417ES comes with a secure 100m depth rating, and includes a 20 second meditation session free of charge, brought by the delight of hand winding the Sellita SW510 movement, leaving you with a reliable 58 hours of power reserve and a feeling of Zen. The Piéce de rèsistance? This will be part of the regular collection, and not a limited edition.

Pricing and availability of the Hanhart 417ES

The Hanhart 417ES is available now for EUR1,744 including tax from www.hanhart.com