While German brand Hanhart is well regarded for its historic military-inspired pilot watches, it is not known for its pared-down, clean watches. Namely, because it has so few: amongst the entire 25-model catalog, just four are three-handers, and just one of those omits the brand’s signature fluted bezel and its red marker. Now, the brand is releasing not one but two new watches as it debuts the brand-new Pioneer Silva collection. Inspired by a historical piece from the brand’s own museum collection, the Hanhart Pioneer Silva watches offer something a bit different from its typical fare.

The Silva gets its name from the Latin word for forest, a nod to the brand’s home in the Black Forest of Germany. For these new models, Hanhart had a look into its archives to a watch you’d be surprised was a Hanhart and even more surprised to learn the modern brand chose to use it. The Kal 36/39, named for its Hanhart movement (which was quite common back then) was a gold watch with a classic vintage layout with two hands and a subsidiary seconds with circular grooving. Truth be told, this watch could be mistaken for any number of watches from the same era, so common was the design. But Hanhart smartly saw an opportunity to create a modern version that doesn’t have too much of a vintage look.

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The Pioneer Silva has a polished 38.5mm stainless steel case that measures just 10mm thick and has a very accommodating lug-to-lug of 44mm. As you can glean from the press photos, the Silva is likely to wear very well on the wrist. It has a domed sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown with the brand’s historical “H” logo; the watch has 50m of water resistance, which seems perfectly suitable for the style. The models are offered on your choice of a black ox leather strap with a pin buckle closure engraved with the vintage logo or a Milanese mesh bracelet with a short buckle engraved with the same logo.

The dials are about as clean as you can get without being a full-on dress watch. Simple black and white dials with baton hands, even numerals, and applied pips for the remaining hours, and not a single layer of lume to be seen. To pay fuller tribute to the historic reference, the watches feature the vintage Hanhart logo. The font for the numerals has been updated from the original model, but has a quirky open 6 which adds a very small bit of fun to this austere dial. For my part, I’m partial to the white dial: I like the brightness and find that the pips are far more effective here than on the black dial, where they seem to get lost.

The Hanhart Pioneer Silva runs on the Swiss automatic Sellita SW200. Here, it’s on display through a sapphire crystal. This movement runs at 28,800 vph with a 38-hour power reserve. We say it every time this movement gets used, but maybe if we are consistent, it will be improved: A 38-hour power reserve is disappointing in a modern watch. I’ll note that Sellita quotes a 41-hour power reserve for the SW200, but Hanhart says 38. At this price point, the movement choice isn’t necessarily a problem or Hanhart’s fault —it’s a great movement. It’s more on Sellita to do better, though I imagine the SW200 is part of its strategy: if a brand wants a longer power reserve from Sellita, they must upgrade to the SW300 (which offers 56 hours after receiving a barrel upgrade in 2021), otherwise the brand is free to go elsewhere. For its part, Hanhart has customized the rotor with a skeletonized modern logo and a red marker borrowed from its fluted bezels.

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The new Pioneer Silva puts Hanhart in more direct competition with other German brands like Stowa, Sinn, and Junghans, who have long offered watches with a similarly sterile aesthetic. It’s exciting to see a brand branch out in a way that remains faithful to its heritage and design language while also allowing it to expand. That’s exactly what Hanhart has done here, and while I doubt this is a full pivot for the brand, it may serve to remind consumers of its heritage and breadth. The Hanhart Pioneer Silva models are both priced at €890 (incl. VAT). For more information, please visit the brand’s website

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