10 for 10 Ep.2: Hamilton navigate the mine field of re-issued design and hit gold with this authentically executed field watch...
We're back with the second episode of our new series, 10 for 10. This is a series from WatchGecko that sets out to inform you, the reader of 10 watches branching over 10 different categories that combined offer an extremely versatile, enjoyable and rounded collection. All together coming in at a value less than £10,000. Some watches maybe more expensive, some may be extremely affordable but together they will all come in less than £10,000.
Stay tuned to the blog for regular new episodes as well as our YouTube channel for extended looks at each watch featured. Let's get into the next watch in your collection...
The field watch
So we already have our everyday watch in the collection, so now its time for something a little different. Field watches. Now, as a concept, they somewhat live in the shadows of divers when it comes to tool watches. However, field watches stem from the same desires a diver has. The necessity for something tough, durable, easy to read and reliable.
The main difference seems to be the field watches disregard for bulk. Diver watches historically benefit from being larger in size. Whether that be favouring a 36mm case size rather than 32 - 34mm back in the 50s, or 44mm over 40mm in 2010. Field watches, on the other hand, suit being more slim, subtle and under the radar. They may not have received the limelight as divers have, but they certainly still have a place in your collection.
Hamilton Khaki Mechanical - What it does
"Inspired by the military, built to last"
The Khaki Mechanical is Hamilton's way of paying the highest form of respect to original military field watches that left a mark on purposeful watchmaking indefinitely. It tastefully allows more modern wrists to appreciate the origins of many popular designs in a reliable, obtainable way.
After opening the box for the first time you can easily see Hamilton has nailed not only the dimensions but also the design. The name of the game with the NOMOS was legibility, so for Hamilton, it has to be authenticity. Everything about this watch from the hands, case and dial all feel like a genuine vintage watch.
Much like its predecessors, this watch remains under 40mm, coming in at 38mm wide with a thickness just shy of 10mm. The watch has a lug to lug length of 47mm resulting in a watch that has a large presence on the wrist without feeling bulky or clumsy. The watch uses white lacquered hour and minute hands infilled with Super-LumiNova®. This is a vintage lume colour, further advancing on the Khaki Mechanical’s desire to feel authentic.
Many watch collectors express discomfort with faux vintage lume. However, there is one main reason I think Hamilton has executed this a lot better than other brands. The faux lume is also present on each hour marker in a slightly lighter tone than the hands. Vintage watch collectors will recognise this as a genuine trait of lume that patinas over time, commonly hands will have changed colour slightly more than the rest of the dial.
Nice work Hamilton.
This faux lume also extends further to the tip of the second's hand, balancing out that big counter seconds balance.
The Khaki Mechanical is powered by the ETA 2801-2 manually wound movement. This is a buttery smooth movement complimented by a well-proportioned crown making time adjustments and winding a pleasure.
The movement is hacking, vibrates at 28,800 bpm and has a power reserve of 42 hours. The watch comes with 50m of water resistance and a low, curved sapphire crystal. This crystal really helps the watch feel nice and thin.
How does it wear?
On the wrist, the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical has a very strong presence, all of the credit for this goes to those long lugs. Even fitted to a Military Nylon, its 10mm thickness means it slips under all manner of cuffs with ease.
In direct comparison to other tool watches, predominantly diver watches you'll find the Hamilton's subtly is a charmful feature of the watch. This watch flies under the radar in many respects. The lume on the watch is very usable with everything clear and readily available once it is charged, at a quick glance of an evening.
The blasted case finish is not just very authentic feeling but also somewhat reassuring. Because the watch has been designed to have that lived in / worn look straight away, you end up with a new watch that you don't need to worry about knocking or receiving some light damage.
Many re-issues or 'vintage inspired' watches conform to the current market with the introduction of polished sides, edges and more overall enhanced polished features.
The Hamilton avoids all of these approaches and just focuses on the importance of accuracy to its history. The result is a watch that once apart of your collection feels as if it has always been sat in your watch box.
When I'm wearing or looking to purchase a new watch, one of my personal preferences is a watch that is very legible at a quick glance to the wrist. Although the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical performs well when the lights turn off, during the daytime the 24-hour display on the dial actually felt quite distracting in real life situations - almost bringing away from the watches huge positive points. Apart of a collection of watches, I believe this issue wouldn't be as prominent as if you were after a watch with a good amount of clarity you would go for our diver suggestion or everyday piece.
Give the watch a new look instantly
Unsurprisingly, the Hamilton enjoyed a decent spell on a range of replacement watch straps. One big benefit the Khaki Mechanical has over other watches currently available is the inclusion of drilled lugs. Not only does this further enhance the watches authentic feeling but it also means its a lot easier to change and have fun with aftermarket straps.
The watch comes as standard on a nylon dark green one-piece strap with dark brown leather used for the keepers, tip of the strap and around the holes to increase the straps robustness. This option really works to enhance the watches DNA, something we will take into consideration with our strap suggestions...
The Iridescent Herringbone Military Nylon - Grey
This is a strap we're seeing more and more on watch reviews, and that's for a good reason. Grey is one of the most versatile colours out there. Adjusting the elements around it, grey can easily look both smart and casual at the same time. The Iridescent Herringbone we see here works to really enhance the lume colour of the watch.
The grey goes with the stainless steel blasted case effortlessly well, actually making this accurate vintage-inspired piece feel quite modern. It also helps that this strap is ridiculously soft and comfortable making it ideal for regular wear.
Vintage Canvas Military Nylon - Army Green
Here I'm sticking with nylon military straps but in the form of the Vintage Canvas. This one-piece strap is a thicker material than the Iridescent, however, it drops the second piece of nylon meaning it still avoids adding bulk to the Khaki Mechanical. This strap in the Army Green acts along the same lines as the standard strap however as it's in a lighter green I believe it gives it a more lived-in look as if the watch and strap both have lived a 50+ year life.
Amazing how a strap change can impact the watch - right?
Winstone MKII Vintage Leather - Dark Brown
Finally, we have a classic Geckota leather strap which has recently received an upgrade. The Winstone MKII is a German handcrafted leather strap which is incredibly supple and comfortable.
Many of our leather straps have a breaking in period, however, one of the benefits of this strap is it instantly conforms to your wrist straight out of the WatchGecko packet. The ivory stitching of the strap matches the lume on the watch incredibly well, a must-have if you own the Hamilton.
Experience the watch in person...
Discover the watch for yourself in even more detail with our latest video coverage on the YouTube channel:
What we would improve.
Not every watch is perfect and the Hamilton is no exception to this. There are a few things we’re not crazy about and some things we would change. Of course naturally, it isn’t a long list as it still made it into the 10 for 10 series. Let’s make this quick and painless...
No screw-down crown - this isn't essential as if you were after something more water-resistant you would naturally go for our diver watch/explorer watch suggestion (Don’t worry, they are coming). Screw-down crowns just offer that additional piece of security when wearing watches.
Gappy lugs - Yes, unfortunately, the Hamilton suffers from this as well. There is a good 4mm from where the spring bar sits to the curve of the dial on the Khaki Mechanical which means two piece straps do result in quite a gap. With the right strap choice, however, this can be hidden.
Lack of versatility - Most watch journalists, myself included will normally end up referring to said watches versatility. The Hamilton, however, is a different story as I would recommend the Khaki Mechanical remains within the field watch parameters. Sure there is nothing stopping the user wearing it with a suit, but for me, it's not familiar with that environment.
This is one of those points which could actually easily be positive, but for me, this watch is designed to be a field watch and should be just that.
Reflective - It seems the watch doesn't have AR coating on the crystal which results in (naturally) a very reflective crystal. With day to day wear, I didn't find this that noticeable however when you go to take an image of the watch that's when it becomes very obvious that this watch is a mirror.
Why this watch?
Owning a field watch sends a message out to everyone that you really appreciate the purposeful side of watchmaking. That this incredible industry and hobby all steamed from the need for something to reliably inform the reader of the time at any moment.
What Hamilton has done is create a watch that conjures those emotions, much like vintages watch do. But by doing this in a modern way, with modern watchmaking technology at an affordable price. With this level of accuracy, genuine history behind the brand and execution, it really is hard to beat the Khaki Mechanical - especially for less than £400...
The Hamilton Khaki Mechanical is currently available on the Hamilton website for £375. If you're interested in learning more about the watch head over to their website.
*Originally published in 2019