INTRODUCING: The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer is a well-priced daily wearer INTRODUCING: The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer is a well-priced daily wearer

INTRODUCING: The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer is a well-priced daily wearer

D.C. Hannay

The name Hamilton is revered for many reasons, including its rich history in the air (producing aviation watches since 1918), and the new Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer wristwatch pays tribute to its past, with two new models based on, of all things, a World War II-era pocket watch. Historically, wristwatches were an evolution of pocket watches, with pilots fitting wire lugs to pocket watches to accomodate a leather strap so they could be worn on the outside of their flight jacket. The pocket watch in question, the Model 23, was a chronograph issued to US Army Air Force navigators. It was just one of many different Hamiltons issued to armed forces during the war. And with its exceptional legibility, cathedral hands, and railway track outer scale, the Model 23 was the direct inspiration for this new series. 

The first model, the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer 43mm, while not a chronograph, is a mechanical time-only hand-winder utilising the ETA caliber 6498-1 mechanical movement with 50-hour power reserve, and features a small seconds dial at 6 o’clock. A hand-wound movement is right in line with tradition for a big pilot’s watch, and winding is made that much easier with the addition of an oversized conical-shaped crown (designed to be used while wearing gloves, since many cockpits were open in those days), a nice vintage touch. The 43mm version is available with either a stainless or warm bronze case, and utilises cathedral hands in nickel or rose gold finishes The handset is filled with old radium Super-LumiNova for a vintage look, as are the Arabic numerals on the deep black dial, and the overall effect is stunning. Both versions have a period-correct bi-directional rotating bezel, 100 metres of water resistance, a double-domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and are supplied with vintage-look dark leather single-stitch straps. It’s a look that’d pair well with a timeless brown leather pilot’s jacket for both spring and fall.The other model in the new lineup, the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer 38mm, is my pick to be a breakout hit. The case size is that perfect “Goldilocks” size for so many wrists, and is powered by Hamilton’s H-10 automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve and NivachronTM balance spring. In addition to that supremely user-friendly conical-shaped crown, the specs are similar to its big brother, with 100m water resistance, old radium Super-LumiNova on the hands and dial markers, sapphire double-domed crystal, and the dark brown leather strap. 

I can easily see the 38mm version becoming a daily driver for many people, with its classic good looks, easy wearability, and a versatile style suited for an endless variety of looks. Personal bias alert: I happen to love the no-date dial. Besides the perfect symmetry, it’s another incentive for me to just grab-and-go without worrying about whether the date is correct. Your mileage may vary. And this style of watch virtually guarantees strap monster status. Changing straps is one of the little joys of watch collecting… it’s like wearing a new piece every time you swap. Pair it with almost any leather strap, or mix it up with a vintage-style fabric (a striped NATO would be note-perfect), and it’s a guaranteed winner.My dilemma? Choosing between the 38mm auto or the bronze hand-winder. A pilot’s watch is one of those classic pieces that a well-rounded collection deserves. Whichever version you prefer, the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer is a great choice, and should prove to be a versatile companion for all your flyboy (or flygirl) adventures, no matter where they take you. 

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer 43mm

Case 43mm stainless steel case with bi-directional rotating bezel
43mm bronze case with titanium case back and bi-directional rotating bezel
Thickness 13mm
Lug width 20mm
Dial Black dial, Arabic numerals with old radium Super-LumiNova®
Hands Nickeled cathedral hands with old radium Super-LumiNova®
Rose gold colored cathedral hands with old radium Super-LumiNova®
Movement ETA caliber 6498-1 mechanical movement with 50-hour power reserve and small second at 6 o’clock
Bracelet Dark brown leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle /dark brown leather strap with titanium pin buckle
Glass Double domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective coating
Water resistance 10 bar (100 m)

Pricing:
Stainless EUR 1095/USD 1295
Bronze EUR 1345/USD1545

Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer 38mm

Case 38mm stainless steel case with bi-directional rotating bezel
Thickness 11.4mm
Lug width 18mm
Dial Black dial, Arabic numerals with old radium Super-LumiNova®
Hands Nickeled cathedral hands with old radium Super-LumiNova®
Movement H-10 automatic movement with 80-hour power reserve, NivachronTM balance spring
Bracelet Dark brown leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle
Glass Double domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective coating
Water resistance 10 bar (100 m)

Pricing:
Stainless EUR 895/USD $995

Made in partnership with Hamilton. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.