INTRODUCING: The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph

INTRODUCING: The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph

Jared Belson

Famous for their use as military-issued timepieces, Hamilton has a deep history upon which they draw for the Khaki Field line. Many collectors have begun their watch adventures with the smaller 38mm model, an outstanding watch in its own right. Building on this success, Hamilton has released a new chronograph version of the iconic field watch that more closely resembles the traditional military design language than ever before: the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph.

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph

Coming in at 44mm in diameter and 14.15mm thick, the Khaki Field Chronograph definitely sits on the larger side of the spectrum. It’s an interesting choice by Hamilton to go with this size given the current comeback tour that smaller watches have been making, but I think it works here. Rather than envisioning this watch as a massively oversized version of the original 33mm model, I think the size and style lends itself more to the pilot watch genre than ever before. Going back to World Wars I and II, pilots watches were made purposely large to aid in legibility at a glance while flying. The same can be said for this Khaki as well; at a glance, the large dial certainly seems to lend itself to easy reading. Aiding this cause is the unique raised numerals. Though this design choice is a bit more contemporary, the height of each numeral (0.35mm tall) and Superluminova composition lend themselves to high visibility regardless of lighting conditions. While there is some faux-aged lume on the hands and marker triangles, I think it works here. Faux-aged lume has become a polarizing design choice for many brands, but the oversized white of the Arabic numerals dominates your view, relegating the tan-coloured lume to the background.

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph

The case follows the traditional Khaki Field design ethos with a sandblasted matte finish to the stainless steel. Inverted pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock control the chronograph functions, which Hamilton notes can track hours, minutes, and seconds for up to 12 hours. The layout, case style, and pushers remind me of the IWC Top Gun chronograph. Crown size is a pet peeve of mine, so I was thrilled to see that in between the pushers is a large screw-down crown. Especially on a watch as large as this, I don’t think anyone wants to worry about struggling to wind or set the time. Additionally, the crown helps achieve a water-resistance of 100m, an important distinction from other well-loved chronograph models, especially given its go-anywhere vibe.

The movement beating away inside is Hamilton’s familiar H-21 caliber. Based on the ubiquitous ETA/Valjoux 7750, the 60 hour power reserve ensures it’ll keep beating if put down for a couple days. I think of this as the “weekend test”: if a watch can be laid down on a Friday night and still be running on Monday morning, it’s got a leg-up in my mind. Of note is that this iteration of the H-21 lacks either a day or date function. That may be disappointing to some who consider these features must-haves for daily wearer status. Yet at the same time, having windows for the day or date would have also cluttered up the dial, not to mention reduce legibility.

Most surprising to me was Hamilton’s choice of the bund as the only strap option. Originally, the bund strap was made to be used by the military in extreme conditions. By including the leather backing, the wearer was protected from the metal case back on their watch should it either heat up or get particularly cold. Imagine, for example, any World War II aircraft. These planes were unpressurized and relatively uninsulated, leaving the pilots and crew members relatively exposed to the elements. At 20,000 feet, the air temperature is roughly -12 degrees Fahrenheit. That level of cold would start to freeze over the watch case, which would then be transferred to the wearer. The bund proved effective at protecting military personnel from this type of injury. While I think it does lend itself to the “military pilot” vibe, the leather backing of the bund strap raises the height of the watch on the wearers wrist. Combined with the already tall case of the watch, I suspect this will make it a bit too bulky for most wearers. I would’ve liked to see the inclusion of a bracelet as well, but at least a change to a different 22mm strap will allow for owners to bring the height down to a more suitable level. I’m certainly curious to see how this strap looks and wears in person, as other than the height issue, it’s a very cool looking piece of kit.

Overall, I think the Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph presents an intriguing blend of style and substance. While it certainly appeals to a specific type of buyer, the option of having a more complicated version of the traditional field watch is a welcome addition to the class.

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph pricing and availability:

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph

The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic Chronograph is available now and can be purchased by Australians here or by finding a Authorised dealer here on hamiltonwatch.com. Price: €1,645, CHF 1,695, or $1,745 USD.