Note: These go on sale quite a bit through Macy’s, which you think has to be an authorized dealer. So, being patient could save you a solid amount of moeny.
Hamilton is a watch brand for which I’ve always had an affinity. While Hamilton is currently part of the gargantuan Swatch group, their origins and long life as an American watch company have always been appealing. Similarly, their clean and frequently iconic design language has drawn me in. That said, I’d never owned a Hamilton until the Khaki Field Mechanical was introduced several years ago. The watch is a nearly direct revival of a 1960s-era watch, which was Hamilton’s response to U.S. military specifications such as MIL-W-3818B and GG-W-113. Its singular, functional focus as a tool for the military is unmistakable, and leads to a purity of design that made it a must-have for me. It’s a classic, and how can you not love a good classic?
About as classic as it gets for a field watch.
What makes the Khaki Field Mechanical a ‘nearly’ direct revival? The most obvious external changes are that Hamilton has modernized the case size to 38mm in diameter and added very minimal ‘Hamilton’ branding to the dial. There’s also a sapphire crystal (with a very slight curvature), instead of acrylic. Given that I bought my watch a few years ago, I had to opt for the OG black version. Now, though, the Khaki Field Mechanical is available in a wide variety of dial & case finishes and strap options, all with old radium color Super-LumiNova. However I’d still choose the black dial, today — ‘none more black’ is such a classic look. (Though the white dial is awfully nice…)
Mechanical movement is true to its roots. Winding is a breeze.
There are A LOT of other offerings in the Hamilton Khaki Field line, and one of the ways in which this watch differentiates itself is by the use of a manual wind mechanical movement, with no date complication. This re-issue originally was equipped with an ETA 2801-2 movement, but that was soon upgraded to Hamilton’s own H-50, which offers an 80 hour power reserve when fully wound. I’ve found my older, ETA-equipped model to be reliable, and though it runs a bit faster than I’d prefer, that can be solved at some point with a service & regulation. The slightly-oversized crown, signed with a fantastically retro Hamilton ‘H’, is great and makes daily winding a breeze.
Other more modern features include 50m of water resistance and a 20mm width between drilled lugs. From the factory, my watch had that lug width filled with a green NATO strap with leather accents. Honestly, I’ve never worn the watch with that strap. While the strap, itself is perfectly nice, there’s something about the color & material combination that just doesn’t do it for me. Instead, I’ve worn it on a variety of other NATO and canvas straps that were more to my liking.
So, how is the watch? It’s pretty great! Such purpose-built tool watches are nearly always very clean and very legible. Many dive watches and chronographs fit this category, and so does this field watch. This watch was designed purely as a tool for telling the time, and the clean aesthetic just works, as was intended. One benefit of a modestly-sized, manual-wind watch like this one is that it’s incredibly lightweight. Compared to an SKX-style diver, for instance, you’ll barely notice the Khaki Field Mechanical is there. Given the clean design, this watch could easily serve in almost any capacity short of dressing up, from the workplace to yardwork to a casual date.
Easy to read dial. 80 hour power reserve.
On top of all of the good things about the watch is the relatively modest price. The MSRP of the Khaki Field Mechanical family is around $500, depending on the exact dial/case/strap configuration. But keep your eye open for sales at major retailers like Macy’s or Nordstrom — I was able to grab mine for under $400.
There are homages, and then there are straight-up reissues. Given the history of Hamilton and their role in providing watches that have served on the wrists of countless military personnel, being able to acquire so close a reissue is a great reminder of that service. That the watch wears so comfortably and looks so darn good in the process is just icing on the cake.
About the author: Aaron K. was first brought to Dappered by his love of watches, but has found it to be a great resource for so much more. When not reading Dappered, he’s usually relishing being a dad, spending time with his family & friends, learning about most anything that can fly, or taking photographs.