A new modern-day travel watch from Hamilton - and this time there are no ‘vintage’ touches.
There are many watch brands out there with a finger in multiple pies. Longines, for example, have an impressive selection of heritage-inspired models that pull on their eclectic history, but they also offer a range of modern looking sporty pieces that are large, bold and modern in both size and presence. Bulgari offers haute luxury gem-set pieces that have been created to exist as jewellery more than horology; but at the same time they’re on a world record-breaking streak with their highly complicated Octo Finissimo creations.
Nowadays it is more important than ever for these old brands to be different things to different people, and that is exactly what Hamilton has done here with their new Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT.
Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT - What it doesReleased in September of 2020, the new Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT is one of a selection of new watches for the brand sitting in their more modern range. Released at the same time as the GMT, the Converter Auto and the Converter Automatic Chronograph follow a similar configuration to the GMT: bold, chunky cases, smooth rotating slide rule bezels and aesthetics with the modern-day wrist in mind.
The Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT is the only model of the new additions to feature a sunburst blue dial with matching bezel as the other pieces favour more monotone black tones. It’s hard to miss the Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT on the wrist with dimensions at 44mm wide, 12.7mm thick and a lug to lug distance of 54.5mm. You won’t hear ‘slips under the cuff’ ‘works brilliantly with a suit’ or ‘understated’ in this review, but clearly, this wasn’t Hamilton’s aim.
To accompany the sunburst blue dial the Hamilton favours less is more with its dial. All of the important travel-related information sits around the edge of the watch providing some lovely framing details including 24-hour markers and of course the slide rule bezel. We’ve already determined this watch isn’t trying to be elegant, but the handset and indices are almost delicate in appearance. It’s obvious Hamilton could have gone for overly sporty choices here but their decision to lean towards a reserved look emphasises an interesting versatile thought process for Hamilton. Symmetrical dial fans rejoice as the date window tells the same story, as its framing neatly at the 6 o’clock position. The GMT hand elegantly glides to the edge of the dial with a reduced almost subtle tipped arrow. It’s a refreshing feature and one that could have easily looking overpowering if the dimensions weren’t considered.
Powering the Converter Auto GMT is a modified ETA movement known as the H-14. This movement has a slower frequency of 21,600 meaning the power reserve is increased to an impressive 80 hours. What you see is what you get when it comes to Swatch Group brands and their movements. Reliability, an impressive level of usability and the reassurance that if anything goes wrong every man and his dog will be able to provide a service.
Let’s get something clear right from the start, there is no denying the Converter Auto GMT’s size. No matter the watch, 44mm sits very much in the ‘large watch’ category. With a wrist of 7 ¼ inches, the Hamilton is just a step over the normal sizes I would comfortably wear. But this doesn’t take away from the modern attractive look of the piece.
Much like the OW P104 we took a look at recently, there is something supremely impressive about balancing information for the wearer with legibility. It’s a tricky thing to do and incredibly easy to get it wrong. Fortunately, that isn’t the case for Hamilton as it provides you with the necessary information without overwhelming the eyes. The Converter Auto GMT has created a desirable style that is similar to watches like the Navitimer from Breitling but where the Hamilton excels is in its ability to feel more modern than historical. Hamilton is one of those watch brands which rich history that could easily pull on that for every model, but I thoroughly enjoy that the brand continues to develop their own modern-day style and position in the market.
Watch straps for the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT
With a lug width of 22mm, the relationship the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT 44mm case has with the lugs is just right. Too often we see watches that are 40mm with 22mm lugs and it simple throws off the proportions of the piece completely. Fortunately, Hamilton know what they’re doing - Let’s check out some straps.
The Spexhall Genuine Leather Watch Strap in Distressed GreyFirst up is the Spexhall Leather and we thought we’d get the grey strap in there instantly as you all knew this was coming. Initially created with watches like Panerai and Seiko in mind, this chunkier and more padded leather strap is equally right at home on a larger tool watch. Grey and blue is such an incredible combination, and we have no plans on slowing down on showing off similar combinations!
The Diamond Quilted Genuine Leather Watch Strap in Blue
Another strap option that continues to play on the blue tones and increased size of the Hamilton is the Diamond Quilted Leather in Blue. Visually the design on this strap is similar to the quilted leather you may see on car interiors, however, on the Hamilton, this strap adds some subtle depth.
The Genuine Vintage Kudu Leather Simple Handmade Watch Strap
Last but not least is the Kudu Leather and this is the Simple Handmade variation. The previous straps all have favoured padding to match the Hamilton’s thickness however this Simple Handmade Kudu at 4mm thick offers a thinner profile, one that flows down in size from the case to lug to strap. With an incredibly soft lining and unique distressing properties, the Kudu Leather is an example on its own.
Things we would change
As always in our reviews, we like to highlight aspects of watches that if we were able to we would like to see done differently.
Size - the size of a watch is such a personal preference and there will be plenty of people out there who are pleased to see this at 44mm, but I found myself constantly thinking how incredible this watch would have been if it was sitting in the 42mm case of the automatic version. Sure there would potentially be some repercussions in terms of fitting the GMT movement into the case, but I can’t help but feel this would open the watch up to a wider audience reach.
Unique colours on the dial - The GMT is the only model in this new Converter range that we see with a blue dial so that in its self is special. But across every model, red is the only other colour seen on the dial. I’d love to have seen the approach of changing colours extended to the red. An orange tone or a vibrant yellow could massively help elevate this watch to keep it feeling reserved and ensure it feels special on the wrist.
Coming in at £1,325, the Hamilton is up against some stiff competition. Things can drastically change in the £1,000 - £2,000 mark so let’s take a moment to briefly look at what Hamilton has to contend with.
The Monta Atlas GMT
Coming in at $1,950 (around £1,500) this GMT from the smaller US brand Monta using a Sellita / ETA base for the GMT movement. It offers a clean and simple aesthetic similar to the Hamilton just in a smaller package. It is a few hundred pounds more than the Hamilton, but if you want something a little different and more niche the Atlas GMT could be the one.
The Christopher Ward C65 GMT Worldtimer
An obvious alternative for slightly less money is the newly released Christopher Ward C65 GMT Worldtimer. With a GMT function, slide rule bezel, date and a 41mm size this is the closest you’ll find on this list to the Hamilton. Similarly to the Hamilton, the C65 GMT Worldtimer favours a more modern look. A serious contender here.
The Oris Aquis GMT Date Blue Dial
To get hold of one of these within the same price parameters as the Hamilton you’ll have to do some digging into the pre-owned market but it will be worth the hunt. The Aquis Date from Oris is one of their flagship models offering reliable, tough and attractive looking watches. You’ll lose a slide rule bezel, but this is certainly another contender at a very similar size to the Hamilton.
Final ThoughtsFor those who want to kick start a luxury watch collection with a slide rule bezel GMT, the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT is a compelling offering. Modern styling ensures this watch will age nicely and with some elegant design touches here and there the watch has the versatility string to its bow. If the increased size works for you, the Khaki Aviation Converter GMT certainly needs to be on your radar.
The Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT is now available for £1,325. We’d like to thank Hamilton Watches for sending the Khaki Aviation Converter Auto GMT in on loan for review. To find out more be sure to head over to the Hamilton website here.