Hamilton expands their most popular field range with additional Khaki Pilot Aviation references Hamilton expands their most popular field range with additional Khaki Pilot Aviation references

Hamilton expands their most popular field range with additional Khaki Pilot Aviation references

Borna Bošnjak

If you think of Hamilton, you’ll likely think about a field watch. After all, they’re among the most versatile types of watches around. By revamping their flieger-inspired Khaki Aviation Pilot, however, including a new case size, the brand is hoping to bring the pilot’s watch aesthetic to the everyday wearer, too. 

The dial

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 42 green dial leather strap

Let’s start with the change that’ll be most obvious at first glance, at least in the 42mm size. Gone is the full day display that spanned the dial from 11 to 1 o’clock and the date at 6 o’clock, with the complication moved to the more conventional 3 o’clock position. This isn’t the first time the Khaki Aviation Pilot opted for this layout, as it previously appeared on the huge 46mm models. Think of it like Hamilton using the dial of the 46mm in the case of the 42mm – kinda.

The entire look of the dial is simplified, too, with printed numerals preferred over applied ones, and the inner hour scale now just a ring of numerals. The triangle at 12 o’clock now points up, as is the custom with flieger-style watches, and the minute track has been moved to a wide rehaut.

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 36 black dial 2

The 36mm variant is essentially a scaled-down version of its larger sibling, minus the day-date aperture at 3 o’clock. I’m glad Hamilton chose to omit the complication, as it would’ve been too large for the small case size. The handset is also smaller, though not by much, and consists of semi-skeletonised sword hands and an arrow-tipped central seconds hand. The effect is actually quite neat here, as the hour hand frames the numeral printed on the dial below thanks to its skeletonised tip.

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 36 silver dial close up

A closer look reveals that the rehaut helps with adding some much-needed depth that was lost with the exclusion of applied numerals, as the main dial portion is quite flat. There’s a distinction between the middle and inner parts of the dial in the form of a shallow moat-like surround, though most of the visual interest is thanks to the large rectangular indices at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock that cut into the flange. Along with the triangle at 12, these indices have a shallow surround that casts a shadow.

At this point, I realised I didn’t even talk about the dial colours yet! How amateurish of me. In any case, the four 36mm references offer a choice of two sunbursts (silver or blue) or a shiny black. The 42mm Day Date opt for matte green, blue and silver, all with white day and date discs. I have to say I was somewhat surprised to see no black dial in 42mm, though I guess that leaves plenty of room for line expansion in the future. The green dial that we got to test out immediately shouts military inspiration, especially fitted to the aged brown leather strap, and the matte finish certainly helps here. Having said that – I’d love a colour-matched (or at least nicely framed) date. Pretty please?

The case

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 36 silver dial wrist

It makes sense for a pilot’s watch inspired by WWII-era pieces to wear bigger than their size suggests, and the same goes for both the 36mm and 42mm Khaki Aviation Pilot. That might also come down to the actual measurements of these pieces – let me explain. For starters, the 36mm is actually 36.6mm in diameter, with a thickness of 11.4mm and a lug-to-lug of 45.1mm. On my 15.5cm-ish wrist, it wears more like a 38/39mm watch, and thanks to the bulging caseback and downturned lugs, it has plenty of presence, too.

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 42 green dial leather strap wrist

The Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date doesn’t quite scale to the same effect, as its measurements of 42.6mm in diameter, 12.5mm in thickness and 51mm lug-to-lug feel proportional, and the long lug-to-lug doesn’t impact the on-wrist experience as much. Having said that, I envision you needing bigger wrists to pull this one off.

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 36 black dial case profile

In terms of case finishing, Hamilton does away with the wide polished surfaces on the sides of the case that were present in the older Aviation Pilot. The result is a very simple, fully brushed look, save for a small polished ring at the base of the sloped bezel and the bead-blasted crown with a polished H logo.

The straps

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 36 black dial wrist

If you were familiar with the older version of the Aviation Pilot, you’ll be familiar with this bracelet, too. It may be a bit of a curious choice for such a simple, pilot-style case, though it does amp up the weightiness on the wrist. Notably, the central links actually stand out from the rest of the bracelet, with polished bevels all-round – its finishing seems more detailed than the rest of the case.

The clasp is well-constructed and the closure is satisfyingly clicky, though there was more overall play in the links than I would’ve expected for this bracelet style. The three holes of micro-adjust are welcome, if maybe lacking one or two more, though what would really set this bracelet apart is toolless micro-adjustment and screws instead of push-pins.

For those preferring the larger size but being wary of the lug-to-lug, the end-link of the bracelet is inverted to help with this, and though it doesn’t offer much in terms of articulation, it won’t extend the lug-to-lug drastically.

hamilton khaki aviation pilot 36 silver dial

One change that’s certainly welcome in the new Aviation Pilot is the selection of leather straps. Prior variants featured smooth or faux-croc calf leather, but the new models bring with them much softer leather. In the 36mm size, the pink and white straps have a heavily textured finish, while the 42mm pieces go for an aged look – all with quick-release spring bars for easy exchanging. The Day Date model continues the use of the brawny and masculine H-shaped pin buckle which can be a touch difficult to get used to, though the process is much easier thanks to the improvement in leather quality. Finally, the 42mm Aviation Pilots sport a winged Hamilton H emblazoned into the strap which I see ruffling some feathers. Overall, leather straps have vastly improved across all Swatch Group offerings at this price point recently, so it’s good to see the trend continue here, especially since Hamilton sticks with standard 18mm and 20mm lug widths for these two models.

The movement

hamilton khaki aviation pilot movement caseback

As is customary with most of Hamilton’s line-up at this stage, both sizes of the Khaki Aviation Pilot sport Hamilton-branded derivatives of the ETA C07 movement. The H-10 (36mm) and H-30 (42mm, day-date) both feature a Nivachron balance spring and class-leading 80-hour power reserves, but also skip the usual Etachron regulator for the two screws located on the balance wheel itself, making regulation a bit trickier. The H-10 is a good fit for the smaller 36mm case, as it fills out most of the caseback, though looks a tad diminutive in the larger 42mm version. Rather unfortunately, the Khaki Aviation Pilot makes a good case for a closed caseback, as the H-10 and H-30 movements are completely undecorated, with the only bit of visual interest being the semi-skeletonised rotor. I wonder whether Hamilton would manage to shave off another 0.5mm or so from the thickness with a closed caseback – it would be a worthwhile compromise in my opinion.

The verdict

hamilton khaki aviation pilot feature

If I was to sum up the collection as a whole, I’d say it’s a simplification of the Hamilton Khaki Aviation that brings it closer to its pilot’s watch inspiration. I’m really glad that the current (and much needed) downsizing trend across numerous brands means we get actual compact options that don’t skimp on the finishing nor get a worse movement. My pick unsurprisingly goes to the black-dialled 36mm Khaki Aviation Pilot, which was luckily one of the variants we got our hands on prior to the launch, though I would love to see a return of applied numerals and a more compelling bracelet. Compared to flieger-inspired pieces that hardly distinguish themselves, the newly revised Khaki Aviation Pilot has enough going for it to stand out, especially now that there’s a choice in terms of sizing.

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot pricing and availability

The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot is available now from the Time+Tide Shop. Price: A$1,600, US$995 (leather strap), A$1,725, US$1,045 (steel bracelet and PVD gold)

Brand Hamilton
Model Khaki Aviation Pilot Auto 36mm
Khaki Aviation Pilot Day-Date 42mm
Reference Number H76245840
H76215850
H76215140
H76215130
H64635140
H64635560
H64635550
Case Dimensions 36.6mm (D) x 11.4mm (T) x 45.1mm (LTL)
42.6mm (D) x 12.5mm (T) x 51mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel (36mm and 42mm)
4N PVD rose gold steel (36mm only)
Water Resistance 100 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire with double-sided AR coating
Dial Sunburst blue, silver or black (36mm)
Matte green, blue or silver (42mm)
Lug Width 18mm (36mm)
20mm (42mm)
Strap Coloured leather with case-matching pin buckle
Three-link stainless steel with folding dive-style clasp
Movement H-10, ETA C07 base, automatic, Nivachron hairspring (36mm)
H-30, ETA C07 base, automatic, Nivachron hairspring (42mm)
Power Reserve 80 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds (36mm)
Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date (42mm)
Availability Now
Price A$1,600, US$995 (leather strap)
A$1,725, US$1,045 (steel bracelet and PVD gold)