Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph

Angus Davies spends a few days ‘hands-on’ with the Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph featuring a useful flyback function. This watch captures the mood of the 1960s and 70s.

This detailed review of the Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

I felt an an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I cradled the Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph in my hands. I was born in 1967 and played with toy cars which emulated full-sized race cars of the era. My early recollections of Formula One cars were the iconic black and gold liveried Lotus John Player Specials.

My boyhood hero was the exotically named Brazilian, Emerson Fittipaldi. Indeed, his surname, with its four syllables, proved fascinating to a 5 year old child growing-up in a soot-clad Lancashire mill town.

Cars of this era were purely mechanical with no electronics in evidence. Driver and car worked alone with no pit to car communication, save for the pit board. Gears were changed with a manual lever and ‘fly by wire’ had not even be conceived.

As a young boy I would push my Corgi Lotus John Player Special around the dining room table, pursing and puckering my lips to emulate the sound of the car’s engine. A few years ago, now a fortysomething, I visited Goodwood Festival of Speed and stood near a genuine Lotus JPS with its engine burbling in a cacophony of octane-rich sound. It was fantastic. Moreover, imagine my surprise when the pilot removed his helmet and fire retardant balaclava to reveal his distinctive face. It was my childhood hero, Mr Fittipaldi and I was elated.

The raucous engine, the rich fuel infused air and the absence of driver aids bestows an honesty and authenticity which I greatly admire. Perhaps it is for this reason I find myself drawn to the charms of this Hanhart flyback chronograph which targets fellow petrolheads who share my love of cars from the 1960s and 70s.

The dial

The dial exhibits a charming retro feel, pairing an anthracite canvas with an orange hour circle. The baton-type, applied indexes feature facets along their longest plane, but adjacent the black canvas their sides are flat-sided, bestowing a crispness to their form.

Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Positioned between each hour marker are a combination of one-second markings and ¼ second integers, both depicted with neat black lines, delivered in two lengths.

The vibrantly-hued hour and minute hands command attention and indicate the time without the merest hint of ambiguity. They collaborate with the aforementioned markings and batons to succinctly communicate with the wearer. Near the tips of both the hour and minute hands, Super-LumiNova® boosts nocturnal legibility.

Arabic numerals, depicted in a modern font, sans serifs, denote the even-numbered hours and, once again, feature luminescent treatment. They sit slightly proud of the surface, in cambered form, providing a comely depth to their appearance.

I always try and avoid repeating myself, but as regular readers of ESCAPEMENT will attest, when it comes to chronograph displays, I do have a tendency to favour bi-compax layouts. It should therefore come as no surprise that the two snailed subdials on this model, presented in contrasting off-white tone, prove especially appealing to me. Bi-compax layouts confer a symmetry and balance which proves especially easy on the eye. The colours employed on this model provide eye-appeal and lucidity in equal measure.

Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The tip of the central chronograph seconds hand matches the red hands of the 30-minute chronograph register at 3 o’clock and its counterpart, a 12-hour chronograph register, located opposite at 9 o’clock.

Unusually, Hanhart has combined a small seconds display with said 12-hour chronograph register. Normally with bi-compax displays, brands choose to forgo one or the other.

Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Encircling the dial area is a tachymeter scale, proving ideal when calculating speeds of objects covering a known distance. Hanhart has a rich tradition of producing stopwatches and this is evident when appraising the dial of this timepiece. The tachymeter scale, unlike other timepieces produced by rival brands, proves refreshingly clean and simple to read. Indeed, wherever you choose to look, the display of this watch proves eminently legible.

The case

The 45mm case of the Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph looks to have been hewn from granite, exuding robustness from every facet of its form. This perception of solidity is reinforced by the use of ‘HDSPro®’ steel.

This intriguingly named steel is said to have received a ‘special finishing process’ which makes the metal ‘at least three times tougher than before’, ameliorating scratch resistance and improving corrosion resistance. Moreover, the absence of any nickel in this steel mitigates any risk of allergic reaction.

Satin brushed surface treatment populates virtually all of the case, save for a few soupçons of highly polished brightwork near the lugs, caseback and bezel. The pushpiece at 2 o’clock is capstan-like in profile and polished. Its counterpart at 4 o’clock is presented in an eye-catching red shade and has been part of the company’s brand DNA since 1938. The rationale for its use was to prevent pilots ‘unintentionally zeroing the stop time’. Today, it provides an ebullient splash of colour which intensifies the appeal of the watch.

Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph is fitted with a solid caseback adorned with a chequered flag motif. Furthermore, the caseback declares the maximum water resistance of 10 bar (100metres) and proclaims its country of origin, Germany.

Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph - watch review by ESCAPEMENT

 

Finally, the retro-looks are underscored with a calf skin strap, featuring a ‘racing design’.

The movement

The HAN4312 self-winding chronograph movement is a modular-type chronograph. The module is said to be ‘exclusive’ to Hanhart. Interestingly, actuating the chronograph requires little pressure on the pushpiece at 2 o’clock and feels superior to many other modular chronographs I have previously encountered.

The Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph is particularly interesting as it features a flyback function. In common with regular chronographs, the stopwatch function is actuated via the pushpiece at 2 o’clock and halted by pressing the same pushpiece a further time. The red pushpiece at 4 o’clock resets the stopwatch function. However, the flyback chronograph offers an additional facility, ideal for gentleman racers. If the chronograph is running, the wearer can press the red button and the stopwatch will stop, reset and restart in one simple action. This complication proves ideal for timing consecutive laps.

Closing remarks

There is palpable honesty to this chronograph. It is sturdy, simple to read, comfortable to wear and competitively priced at £3,022 (RRP as at 5.10.2015).

The design codes of the Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph wonderfully capture the palette of colours which were typical of the late 60s and early 70s. Indeed, I can still recall a woollen tank top I wore as a young boy. It would have perfectly complemented the RACEMASTER GTF. However, beyond the stylish aesthetics the Hanhart delivers a very practical timepiece.

As talk of Smart watches currently dominates the press and is reported by some to be the future, I reflect on the evolution of Formula One over recent years. I confess I preferred watching race cars back in the 1970s, compared with the cars of today, and hope that the watches I admire of the current era don’t disappear as a result of so-called progress.

It is perhaps a time to reminisce and champion the mechanical watch.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Hanhart RACEMASTER GTF chronograph
  • Reference: 736.630-001
  • Case: HDSPro® steel; diameter 45mm; height 16mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph.
  • Movement: HAN4312, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 34 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Strap / Bracelet: Black calfskin strap in ‘racing design’ presented on a stainless steel pin buckle
  • Price: £3,022 (RRP as at 5.10.2015)

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