Hanhart 417ES Flyback Flieger ‘McQueen’
Hanhart 417ES Flieger Chronograph ‘McQueen’ 1957 Stainless Steel case. Cal. 42/51* Flyback Handwind (1 of 500 made)
*Known by various names.. Large 16”’ 17-jewel Hanhart movement, variously described as a cal. 4054 (Antiquorum), a cal. 40 (von Halem), or a cal. 15 (Knirim).
From Ranfft: Breguet hairspring family: stem for wrist/pocket watch respectively: 42/52: 2 pushers, flyback.
Like most watch-hounds, I found myself browsing online for something diverse to add to the collection. I was drawn to a classic 60’s Heuer Carrera, but as lovely as they are, my one reservation was the smaller 36mm size. The guys over on the OTD Heuer forum urged me to give one a go, as they wear well. Other marques were also suggested, and my casual hunt continued. I started looking at old tool watches, Fliegers, etc. Then I happened upon this Hanhart 417ES. It was an impulse buy, being so different from anything else I own, and I’m glad I bagged it. The McQueen connection, the military history, and its rarity (500 made), easily sold it to me. There is also a 1 in 500 chance this was McQueens actual watch.. OK, OK, wishful thinking. One thing that I am certain off, this is one ice cool vintage watch.
Hanhart (founded 1882) produced Fliegers during WWII for the German Luftwaffe. Following the war the Black Forest region, where Hanhart were located, was part of the French Occupation Zone. As part of the German reparation payments to France, watches were produced by Hanhart under the Vixa (Type 20) name for the French military. In 1956/7 Hanhart were allowed to go back to making their own signed watches, and continued to make the Flieger for the Luftwaffe & commanders of Naval vessels, including U-Boats and Destroyers – the 417E (brass case) and ES (stainless steel case). The 417 was short lived, and in 1958 the Hanhart was replaced by the Junghans (J88) as issued equipment. In c1967 the Heuer Bund replaced the Junghans. By coincidence Hanhart is celebrating 130 years this year.
Hanhart & McQueen Research
The world of military watches, especially the history of Hanhart is a researching minefield, almost too much information, some contradictory, some vague. I’ll do my best to condense the facts on these pages, but I apologise if any info is inaccurate. Feel free to post comments with any corrections or extra info.
417ES – McQueen’s toolwatch
McQueen is the undoubted king of cool, and had a love for machines and watches. Most notably the Rolex 5512 Sub and the legendary Heuer Monaco 1153B. But what was Steve’s go-to tool watch when he was going to ride or race his beloved motorbikes? Yep, the Hanhart 417 ES.
When ‘thekingofcool.com’ informed Hanhart about this, they had no idea and were pleasantly surprised to find that this was one of McQueens favourite watches. Hanhart carefully studied photographs of Steve at the ’64 IDST, and confirmed that it was a 417ES, and some time later reintroduced a re-edition of 64 pieces.
The original of the watch is touched on by ‘thekingofcool.com’…
“It is not documented how and where McQueen obtained his watch, but in the last war a Hanhart was considered highly covetable by American pilots and quite a few would have made the journey home across the Atlantic after the conflict. Alternatively, he might have acquired it during the filming of The Great Escape, But McQueen was an incorrigible collector of all things mechanical and it is no surprise that he would have valued owning such a rare and historic pieces.”
1964 39th International Six Days Trial (ISDT)
Amazing read on McQueen & the ISDT…
The ISDT was, and still is the highlight in the off-road motorcycle calendar, it’s the oldest, toughest and most respected of events… sort of an Olympics of the FIM.
FIM link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A9d%C3%A9ration_Internationale_de_Motocyclisme
McQueen was part of the US team that competed in the ‘64 event, held in Erfurt, East Germany. This was the first time the US had taken part in the event as a team. Throughout the event, McQueens trusty Hanhart sat on his (right) wrist, whether battling the gruelling trials or relaxing in-between, it was his tough-as-nails tool watch. He was part of a five man team, representing the best riders in the US… His teammates were brothers Dave & Bud Ekins from Hollywood, John Steen and Cliff Coleman. Their rides were Triumphs – brand new TR6SC’s and T100Sc’s. Bud Elkins is one of the most famous and respected motorcyclists ever, with a whole raft of medals to his name. (He was the guy who jumped 65 feet in the barbed wire fence in McQueen’s famous ‘Great Escape’ scene in ’62)
McQueen loved the ISDT event, he proudly carried the stars & stripes at the opening ceremony, in this right hand, and of course, accompanied by the Hanhart. Cliff Coleman achieved third place in the up to 750 cc class and Dave Ekins gained fifth place in the 500 cc. Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen both crashed out on the third day, Ekins with a broken ankle. (The Steve McQueen bike has been rediscovered and is now owned by Sean and Catherine Kelly of Johnson Motors.)
There are a mountain of photographs from the event, many fill the book ‘Steve McQueen – 40 Summers Ago’. Spectacular photos show him battling the ISDT course on his Triumph TR6, with his now infamous comp. number 278. http://www.motorcycle.com/products/steve-mcqueen-40-summers-ago-12731.html
There is another book, a LE or 1000 with additional photos, by photographer Francois Gragnon, simply titled ‘Steve’.. http://www.dadsstyle.com/valvebounce/2009/03/steve-mcqueen-isdt-photographs.html
The 417ES is also seen in many other photos of McQueen throughout his life, it was clearly a favourite. He wore it whilst filming The War Lover http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Lover
More on the ISDT 64 Team