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Formed in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Hamilton Watch Company was one of the more notable American watch manufacturing companies, cutting their teeth on pocket watches designed and targeted at the railroad industry they developed a well known and respected business.
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When World War 2 started Hamilton retooled and began creating wrist watches, effectively paving the way for the watch company we know today—That is until 1966 when Hamilton acquired Buren Watch Company which ultimately led to them moving their entire watchmaking operation overseas to Switzerland. In 1984 Hamilton was acquired by Swatch Brand, leaving us where we are today.
Hamilton still produces a wide range of high quality, Swiss made, timepieces and in this review, we are focusing on the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical (ref H69429931). This particular piece is modeled after their original 1969 field watch, however, the brand has modernized it to appeal to a more contemporary customer—more on that later, for now, let’s go over some specs:
- Case Width: 38.26mm
- Case Thickness: 9.95mm
- Lug to Lug: 47.21mm
- Depth Rating: 5Bar (50m)
- Weight: 2.2oz on one of my NATO straps
- Movement: ETA 2801-2
- Lug Width: 20mm
(All Measurements are my personal measurements and may differ from manufacturers specs)
There are two primary factors that I believe contribute directly to comfort when you’re looking for a watch to wear. The first is case thickness and the second is the lug-to-lug length. The Hamilton really excels in both of these areas, measuring in at less than 10mm thick (handily the thinnest watch in my collection) and around 47mm lug-to-lug it’s easy to simply forget that you’re wearing the watch at all.
One of the real benefits to having such a thin case is that when you pair the watch with a nato it still keeps the whole package incredibly thin. In terms of appearance some folks might turn their nose up at a sub-40mm cased watch, but I would challenge you to try one on if you get the chance—my wrist is around 7” and I find it very proportionate.
Ticking away inside the Field Khaki Mechanical is the ETA 2801-2. This is a hacking, manual wind, 17 jewels, movement that operates at 4Hz. In my time with the Hamilton, I’ve seen it keep really excellent time, for the price associated with the watch. This isn’t COSC certified movement, nor should it be for the $450 price tag, but it’s generally keeping within 10s/day. With its 46hr power reserve, it leaves you some margin to alternate it with another watch.
I will also point out, that while entirely subjective and not really applicable to performance; the winding action is very smooth and pleasant to use, for what its worth.
Case and Crown
I’ve already talked about its size, but I think the finishes are important on this watch, in particular. The Hamilton “GG-W-113” was originally a military field watch, issued to be worn by soldiers during the Vietnam era. The last thing that you wanted was for a shiny object on your wrist to catch the light and draw attention to you. So Hamilton solved this problem by finishing the steel case with a matte/beadblasted type finish. It looks good and accomplishes what it was meant to on this vintage reissue.
The crown is roughly a 6.5mm crown with very effective jimping around the exterior (for hand-winding). The crown does not screw down, and only have one position when you pull it out for hacking the seconds and setting the time.
Mentioning the non-screw-down crown brings up one important point to be made about this watch. The Hamilton Field Khaki mechanical is rated to 50m depth resistance, there are endless debates about how much depth resistance is “needed” for a daily wearer, I’ll let you decide that for yourself.
Dial and Crystal
In my opinion, the two things that make this watch in particular an excellent value is a. The movement and b. The sapphire crystal. There are a lot of competitive options at this price, but it will be difficult (not impossible) to find one that’s running a respected Swiss movement with a sapphire dome over it, just my .02.
Crystal aside, getting to the dial we start to really see the callbacks to the vintage Hamilton watches that inspired this one. Large Arabic numerals circle the dial in two distinct circles. The larger exterior being in the 12-hour scale, and the inner small circle being in the last half of the 24-hour scale. This allows you easily to see what time it would be in “military time,” if you will instead of having to add/subtract 12. This is all assuming you can separate AM from PM yourself.
The hands are bright white, and sort of a hybrid between sword hands and syringe hands. The bright white of the hands and hour/minute indicators really pop off of the black dial. Both hands, as well as the tip of the second hand, and triangular hour indicators are all lumed with Superluminova that’s been aged to look like an older tritium or radium dial.
The Hamilton Field Khaki Mechanical ships with a type of NATO strap that is accented with some leather embellishments. I’ll be the first to say that it looks to be a nice enough strap but didn’t fit my wrist well. I removed the OEM strap almost immediately and swapped it for a traditional camo nato I bought from natostrapco.
That’s the beauty of this watch, in particular, versatility, as I’m writing this the watch is on a Shell Cordovan Strap and looks just as at home there as it did on the NATO. It’s a common lug width, and due to the thinness of the overall package, it can wear many different straps very very well. I’ve even seen some folks source vintage styled straight end link bracelets for these watches. The options are endless, and those endless options are made easily accessible for swapping by the drilled lugs.
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Review – Final Thoughts
When it’s all said and done what we’re looking at from Hamilton is their attempt to honor one of their OG models that have been a source of inspiration for watches for decades now. I believe they’ve done this successfully, primarily by modernizing it—increasing the case size to 38mm (from the original 34) and adding the sapphire over acrylic.
Field Khakis have always been good “starter watches,” and I don’t believe this one is any different, the price is a little higher than some of the other models in the line, but I believe you get what you pay for in this model even if just in terms of aesthetic. It’s easy albeit casual piece to wear, that’s at home in most normal situations. I like this watch, and it’ll be on my wrist for days to come.
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