I never paid much attention to the Swiss Military Hanowa brand. Their watches did cross my path on my web browsing of watches, but I always treated those watches as a fashion watches with quartz movements. OK, they have "Swiss made" declaration, but that was just not enough for my attention. Beside that, I was always confused with the flood of similar brand names with swiss cross, such as: Swiss Military Hanowa, Hanowa, Swiss Alpine Military, Swiss Military by Chrono, Victorinox,.. Until last week.
As every friday, I received a weekly newsletter from Seriouswatches.com. I don't know why, but after checked their novelties, I also browsed some other watches as well, filtered mechanical watches only, and two Swiss Military Hanowa watches which raised my eyebrows popped out - model "Les Patrouille des Glaciers" and model "Les Patrouille des Glaciers chrono". What intrigued me were a beautiful combination of black/light blue dials and very nice rubber straps with stitches. Chronograph version has a light blue strap with dark blue stitches, and non chronograph has a vice versa.
I had to check at once what movement those two watches have. Chronograph model has very interesting Landeron 77 movement (probably produced by Depa) and non chronograph version has STP1-11 - another swiss made clone of ETA 2824-2 with 26j, so similar to Selitta SW200.
As you can see, after short considerations and few emails to Seriouswaches I decided for non-chronograph version.
For all those of you who have also avoided this brand before, I made a little homework and check the basic information about the brand. Brand Hanowa was established in 1963 by a Mr. and Mrs. Noll and the brand name comes from husband's name HAns NOll WAtches. All their watches use "Swiss Made" label. In 1990 they launched another brand Swiss Military Hanowa, where "Swiss Military" label is used with the permission of the label's owner - Swiss government. Both brands use octagonal swiss cross as a trademark sign.
OK, now let's me start with the watch itself. As said at the beginning, the main reason to buy the watch was very nice combination of light blue inner ring and black tile-like texturing of the dial. And a wonderful rubber strap which gives the impression that it is the leather one.
But that is not all. I have to mention a very unusual choice of the color for the date which combines with company's octagonal hallmark. Hands are also done with a lot of care and details. So all in all, I really like the dial. The only thing that I would change is this quite big insignia "Les Patrouille des Glacers". This race, to which the watch is dedicated, has no meaning to me at all and I believe also to the majority of other buyers. So this insignia could easily be written somewhere else, less noticeable. BTW, chrono version does not have this insignia on the dial, there is no room for it.
Bezel is fixed and without any function, but those "cut off" parts make watch more dynamic and attractive. For sure better than plain black. I just wonder how would watch looks like if the bezel would be replaced by the "true" rotating bezel with numbers or markers. Maybe watch would look worse but true bezel would for sure add to the functionality of the watch.
Hour markers and hands have a lume in the middle. The lume itself is not among the best I have seen. In the evening when you turn the light off you don't see the watch at all. Only after the minutes, when eyes adopt to darkness, you start seeing luminated parts. But I have to praise that lume stays visible for a long time. Basically for the whole night.
I have already mentioned that movement is Swiss STP1-11 automatic movement with hacking function. I believe the cheapest version of all ETA clones but still good one. No surprises there. If you are familiar with ETA 2824 or Selitta SW200 then this is all the same. I haven't noticed any issues so far, watch works within expected daily tolerance, rotor is quite quiet, winding seems to work as it should. Watch was obviously set by Seriouswatches before sending it to me, and it arrived to me still running and with correct time. I did not manually wind it, just put it on my wrist and since then it is on my wrist constantly. After a few days of continuous wearing still no need for moving time hand forward or backward. But I must admit I am not a control freak about few seconds so I might be a bit more tolerant than you are.
As seen on the picture, watch has a sapphire crystal on both side of the watches.
Declared water resistance is 10 ATM. Limited edition of 1943 watches! I have no idea where this number comes from, I guess it has something to do with this "Les Patrouille...." race. Case is stainless steel IP black coated (as is also the bezel). As in all Hanowa group watches, crown is stamped with Hanowa hallmark. Crown is not screwed in as one would expect from such a watch.
Let's go to the "user experience" wearing the watch.
Watch is a big one - it has a 45mm diameter, and those of you who have red my previous reviews know that I like bigger watches. So maybe I am biased here! Namely watch fits great to my wrist. It REALLY looks much smaller than it is. When I first saw the watch on the web I could not believe it has 45mm, when I first saw in in front of me I measured it because it still looked smaller. But the fact is - diameter is 45mm, and the thickness is 11,5 mm. Lugs are 22mm and L2L is 48mm.
I don't know what the reason for this optical shrinkage is, maybe the fact that dial itself has stated internal blue ring followed by quite wide black edge (bezel), or that L2L is not so big. But the fact is that watch does not screams out of the wrist at all. Even though watch is clearly intended to be a sport watch, one could wear it also as a dress watch.
But what I really have to point out again is the strap. Even though it is a true rubber strap, it looks like leather. It is not very thick, that is why it is very soft. It has a plain and simple pin black buckle - of course marked with company's hallmark.. It is very easy to take the watch on and off. I can say one of the best rubber straps that I ever had a chance to wear. I must worn you - strap is intended for the bigger wrists. I have 19,4 cm wrist and use third out of nine wholes. So if you have wrist smaller than 18,5 cm, this is not for you. On the other side it will fit to the wrists over 22cm...
Swiss Military Hanowa did not put much effort in the boxing. Watch comes in a very simple and small metal box. So no extravagance here even though watch is a limited edition and from the highest end of their collection. I can say that I was a bit unpleasantly surprised about that. As I was able to see from the pictures, chrono version is packed in a bit more luxury style but still far from what one would expect from limited edition top of the brand watch.
For the final verdict I also have to reveal the price. Basic price in Europe for the non chrono version is 649 EUR and for the Chrono version 1699 EUR. My first impression was - a lot for some "yet another swiss branded company". But... Watch is really well built, it is a fully swiss watch and if I compare with the prices of russian watches or vast majoritiy of the microbrand watches with Seiko or Miyota low range movements or even chinese movements, price at least for the non chrono model is normal (for chrono with Landeron 77 I still think it is too much...). With some luck I am sure you can find it also cheaper (at least I did find it but all were out of stock at the time being) or use some discount. In this case - grab it, I can only recommend buying it. You will not be disappointed. By this watch Swiss Military Hanowa has for sure stepped into the higher class of watches and deserves your attention.
At the end I must again also mention company Seriouswatches.com since their service is always outstanding. I am their regular customer but still they always impress me how professional they are.
P.S.: After regular wearing for almost a week, day and night, I put the watch off the wrist on the desk. Important fact - I put it off in the morning. It run for another 24h....