The Military Watch That Forged a Living Collection

The Hamilton Khaki Story

Date Published
Jun 12, 2021
Author
Samuel Ng
Category
Insight
SponsoredAcme Inc.

The Current Lineups

What people so admire about military watches is that they are very much purpose-built machines, and the variety manifested in them echoes the many flavors of soldier and warrior.

Ariel Adams, Ablogtowatch

By now, we recognized the Khaki collection brings you into the multi-hyphenate brand, more so than any other collection. They encapsulate much of the history of what they excel in, which makes up a significant part of the brand’s charm. A century later, it is undeniable that the military influence lived on and retained its allure within Hamilton. Especially in recent times, a sense of resurgence seems to be taking place. Designed in a singular vision of keeping to its roots, we could see several iconic watches renewed within this genre.

The current Khaki collection comprises three categories that differentiate themselves based on military branches: we got the Khaki Navy (sea), Field (land), and Aviation (air). Each department is pretty straightforward with specific designs and purposes. Without further ado, let’s go through what we enthusiasts can buy from Hamilton now.

Underwater Timekeepers

Let’s start off literally from the bottom… of the sea. The Khaki Navy sub-collection is no small feat in watchmaking. Its history in providing soldiers with underwater timekeepers can be traced back to the “canteen” BuShip watches in the forties. We could even argue that the company’s credential with oceanic instruments dates back to when they provided marine chronometers during World Ward I. While none of the oversized chronometer clocks have been reproduced today, the different naval dive watches in the current collection convey yesteryear’s spirit.

In it, we have four main, different models. We’ve got the Scuba Auto, which resembles a classic dive watch design with a military package clad within, the Frogman Auto with all the charm of the original early “canteen” watches, now bolder and tougher, the Pioneer Auto in tandem with the spirit of those marine clocks and pocket watches, and lastly, the 1000m water-resistant professional beLOWZERO dive watch.

(The newer olive-tone Khaki Navy Scuba Auto Green Ref. H82375161)

Produced in a classic dive watch silhouette with contemporary elements, the Khaki Navy Scuba Auto comprises several colorways found on the uni-directional diver’s bezel and dial. Alongside them are two different dimensions and movements. They were intended as more of a casual theme within the Khaki, as evidenced by their 100m water resistance. You can wear them on the weekends by the poolside and at the beach. Mainly in black, blue, orange, and the newer army green, and fitted with either a metal sports bracelet, rubber straps, or military-oriented NATO straps. All of them come in matching color accouterment.

These scuba watches are clad with the salient military-themed dial with the 24-hour markers and, besides, a date display at 4.30 position for the mechanical models. The handset is dauphine-style with a pointing tip-in color accent on the second hand. Covering up the dial lies a domed sapphire crystal, with a solid screw-down case-back.

(A 37mm Scuba on wrist)

The smallest iteration came in at 37mm and featured an ETA F06.105 quartz caliber, ticking away with a stop motor with stop second function, battery life of 68 to 94 months. For most 40mm variants, these 100m dive watch clad the H-10 automatic caliber based on the modern ETA C07.111, and I will elaborate on it later on in this article.

If the 100m water-resistant Khaki Navy Scuba Autos are for the weekenders, then both beLOWZEROs and Frogman Autos mean business. As mentioned briefly earlier, the afore Khaki Navy beLOWZEROs are the most robust dive watches within Hamilton, embodying a 1000m water-resistant built and a helium escape valve. Launched in 2015, they were the only current square-shaped dive watches and are done with a total blackout makeover. Stealthy yet a little faddish simultaneously, the beLOWZERO dive watch measures at a whopping 46mm, done in both stainless steel material and titanium (if you want to enjoy the size without the weight).

(Left: Wearing both the Tenet’s beLOWZERO editons Ref. H78505331; Right: Ref .H78505332)

Entirely in black tone through and through, the case has a steampunk vibe with a Neo-screw down look at the four corners, accentuated by the blackout bezel with studded markers instead of numerals. The dial clads Arabic hour markers with the 12 numeral replaced by a quirky digit “O.” Both the steel and titanium versions are automatic and run on the H-10 automatic caliber.

While the models mentioned earlier are all seemingly modern interpretations, the Khaki Frogman divers tread on a specific vintage model. This wasn’t a mere remake of the early BuShip canteen watch. The Khaki Frogman is a modern design and built. Evidently, the crown cap protection system seen now exemplifies the contemporary aspect. Well known for the crown cap protection, the Frogman Auto replaced the then chain-held cap with a strengthened metal hinge with a stylish “lock” word on it, still exceptionally functional and distinctive.

(Check out the upgraded crown-crap protection from a previous chan-held one)

Like the Navy Scuba, the Khaki Frogmans come in several colorways, with the larger 46mm manufactured in titanium for an imposing look and sportier feel. Whereas the smaller 42mm versions are done in Stainless steel on a multi-finished steel sports bracelet or a casual rubber strap like the titanium versions.

(The ultra-modernised Khaki Frogman Ref.77725335)

Another distinctive element is their quirky “scallop” bezel design, with the protruding grooves at each of the bold numerals at every tenth-minute position. Topping things off would be a more conventional dive watch dial with only a “12” Arabic hour marker, a torchlight and sword-style handset with arrow tip seconds, and a date display at 4.30 once again. Powering these futuristic canteen watches is the H-10 automatic caliber. These Frogman divers strike a balance between modernism and their own classic military, nautical tool-watch appeal.

Following the mastery in marine chronometers, the dressy Khaki Navy Pioneer Auto iterations are not dive watches, per se, but are more than fitting. They are heavily inspired by those significant historical timing instruments onboard battleships, alongside the yesteryears of pocket watches.

In three different forms, the Navy Pioneer Autos comes with a “soldered lugs” design that holds a two-piece dark brown leather strap. These lugs were commonly found during those times when this was how pocket watches were converted to wristwatches. They further fare with glossy blue hands and an opulent white dial featuring Arabic hour markers on the main dial with Chemin de fer minute track, topping off with minute numerals printed on the sloped rehaut. Around the sapphire crystal is the bezel fixed on each, with coin-edged grooves in full polished, contrasted with a multi-finished convex mid-case for a touch of elegance.

Addressing the first is the 40mm Pioneer Small Second Auto that features a sub-second dial at 6 o’clock and powered by the ETA 2895-2 automatic caliber, considered the dressiest one. This is followed by the slightly sportier central hand version Pioneer Auto with a date display and powered by the H-10 automatic caliber. It measures 43mm, lending a taste of what pocket-watches converted to fit wrists would be like.

(Sportier iteration the Pioneer Auto Ref. H77715553)

The final one would be the Pioneer Auto Chrono, with a chronograph function that measures elapsed time with a 30 minute counter and 12 hour counter at the top and bottom. Hamilton neatly balanced out the dial with the logo at the left side and the date display on the right, with the H-21 chronograph caliber based on the workhorse Valjoux 7750 automatic. A lovely retro touch on the 44mm Chrono is the hobnail-style pushers, in-between the time-time-setting crown, that activates, stops, and resets the chronograph function.

(The Pioneer Auto Chrono Ref. H77706553)

These Pioneer Autos represent a forgotten yet of the utmost important part of Hamilton’s history. They dissected the different thicknesses of their military heritage thoroughly, and the new Khaki Pioneer embraces its roots, featuring quintessential elements to enhance that effect. With these, we sum up the military watches of the ocean.

Modern “Ground Pounders”

Hamilton has proudly kept an eye on its history, which it continues to honor not only through commemorative editions and revival of historic designs but by striving to move watch design-forward and produce high-grade watches that provide reliability, accuracy and joy.

C. Bradley Jacobs

Floating up to the surface, we’ve got the Khaki Field series that fairly pays a direct tribute to those from wartime. These watches no doubt seem familiar, from the clean case lines to the 24-hour demarkation on the dials, elements tried and tested when Hamilton built them for the military personnel. This sub-collection is further categorized by four different subsets, namely the King, Auto, Quartz, and the recent Mechanical.

(The current Khaki Field Automatic Black 42 Ref. H70455533)

These watches fiddle every bit of the gears once found on soldiers’ wrists in 1967, now with several upgrades and tweaks that cater to enthusiasts in modern times. While there’s plenty to get lost in with this Khaki Field sub-collection, it’s certainly worth noting that all of these Field watches have a shared ethos, and that is the design roots derived from the GG-W-113 and MIL-W-43467 military specifications. There’s no shortage of the real Hamilton character we are fond of here.

(The newer Hamilton Khaki Field King Black PVD Ref. H64465733)

Let’s begin with the Khaki Field King watches. The King models can be considered the “president Rolex oyster Day-Date choice” in the Khaki context, as it displays a similar week calendar for feasibility on the dial. It’s an excellent combination of functionality with a dash of elegance. The case design resembles Hamilton’s previous Ref. 9445 that features the MIL-W-43467 case but with crown guards that flange the winding crown. The models only come in one size for now at 40mm and are featured in two different finishings. Both the stainless steel and black PVD cases are done with a thick polished bezel, contrasted neatly with a satin-finished mid-case and screw-down case-back, for adequate water-resistance of 50m.

Each of the watch dials is executed with multiple textures – the inner 24-hours marking is applied on a matte surface and the other minute track, only to be sectored out with a radial finished way that finds the 12-hour markers. The main highlight would be the day-date display at 12’o clock, with the day indicator being spelled out fully.

(A conventional steel variant Ref. H64455533)
(The superior 25-jewel H-40 automatic caliber within the Khaki Field King Auto)

Hamilton’s effort in placing the complication at the top allowed the King to have a neat and symmetrical feel on an already busy military dial. Each model has been paired accordingly with either a leather strap or a matching stainless steel sports bracelet. Seen through from the back, it exhibits the H-40 caliber based on the ETA 2834-2 automatic with day-date complication. Few had the exception of a quartz ETA 955.132 movement with the exact complication.

Moving on to the Auto and Quartz collection, these two variants exemplified the bread-and-butter of a proper “ground pounder” for civilians. The majority of these field watches complied with the military specifications while evolving from the first Khaki Ref. 9219 lineage from the nineties. Their tweaks include the outer minute track and case finishings. All have the foundational military dial in common with a few exceptions like the Pioneer Auto and the modern-chic Skeleton Auto Ref. H72585535. Other commonalities between them are that they come in sizes 38mm to 44mm, with the Quartz variants coming only at 38mm and 40mm, powered by the F06.111(38mm) and the F07.111 (40mm) quartz movements.

(The very essence of what the Khaki line is about)

With more than 50 examples, the Khaki Field Auto has inherent charms and embodies the Khaki collection’s very essence. Coming in different case materials like titanium; a chronograph complication; a more straightforward day-date display, or even dateless ones; and all are powered by the state-of-art automatic calibers like the H-10 (standard), H-21 (Chronograph), H-30 (day-date), and ETA 2824-2 (38mm).

(This exemplary Hamilton Field Khaki Auto Chrono Ref. H71616535 is powered by the H-21)

These automatic movements are cleverly displayed through the case-back, allowing wearers to truly enjoy and appreciate a historically relevant daily-beater, both the inside out. There’s plenty to choose from to suit one’s taste, with each variant incorporating a perfect blend of functionalities you expect from a general-purpose field watch.

(An exemplary Ground Pounder on a matching bracelet Ref. H70515137)

That brings us to the final sub-set, which is the Khaki Field Mechanical. The Mechanical line was around for a while, represented by models like the Officer Handwinding models, including the Pearl Harbour’s olive green edition. They come in 38mm (with two exceptional 44mm Ref. H69619533 and 50mm Ref. H69829560 variants). A hand-winding ETA 2804-2 movement firmly brings back the original field watches to mind, resulting in a graceful vintage size that is more practical in today’s time than the 33mm originals.

(The earlier Khaki Field Mechanical in the Khaki Field collection)
(Worn on the green nylon strap with logo buckle)

In 2017, Hamilton announced a home-run model that paid a faithful tribute to the sixties GG-W-113 and MIL-W-46374 issues. In their museum collection, we have many military pieces, including a model from the 60s, which is a clear inspiration for today’s Khaki Field Mechanical model Ref. H001.00.000.408″ by Hamilton themselves. The dial format is spot on – grasping the exact minute track with triangular hour markers from the GG-W-113 – fitted into the matte-finished case (also in PVD black and olive green) that resembles the later-on MIL-W-4367, only to be topped with a modern sapphire crystal instead of hesalite.

(The Ref. H001.00.000.408, an early example that complies with the GG-W-113 mil-spec)
(Faithful remake, the Khaki Field Mechanical now comes in different hues, like this Earth Brown version)
(How about a white dial version)

Known as the “hack” watch, these tributes are executed faithfully with the placement of a hand-winding movement (thus the Mechanical moniker). The earlier models from 2017 to 2018 were clad the ETA 2801-2 caliber, then upgraded to the H-50 caliber subsequently. A few major upgrades lie not only in the movements but also in the straps and sizes. The Mechanicals are beefed up to 38mm for a more “vintage” size like the rest of the line, featuring a matching matte steel bracelet option that skews towards a more modern and better daily-wearing experience. If not, we can always stick to the vintage leather and NATOs to simulate what those soldiers actually wore during their service back then.

(True to the original dials of those GG-W-113s)
(The upgraded H-50 caliber within that ticks for 80 hours straight with a full wind)

Secondly, the Mechanical also comes with a black PVD version for a stealthy contemporary look, or on the other end of the spectrum, a warm green PVD and brown dial combine for a rustic appeal. We can see that Hamilton has been broadening this pared-down and distilled field watch brilliantly while still somehow feeling as relevant as ever.

(Personal Khaki Field Mechanical Handwinding Brown 38 Ref. H69439901)
(Still as robust as ever in different environments)

With their release, Hamilton was able to capture the watch community’s interest and heart again by offering the true vintage spirit of their uber field watches, all that with ample modern strides. The legendary American military-issue field watch revival fully embraces its roots, balancing its heritage with exceptional quality.

The Sky is the Limit

The final sub-collection would be those soaring the airspace. These are precision instruments that are customary for Hamilton. The Khaki Aviation clearly represents the watchmaker’s endeavor at reinterpreting classic pilot watches back into their catalog. Yet again, breaking down into three different categories, we have the Khaki Aviation Converter, the Pilot, the Day-date, the X-wind models, with the exception of the Takeoff Auto Chrono Ref. H76786733 each aviation timepieces serve as an admission of an archetype in recapturing a spirit of adventures in the sky.

(A modernly designed Khaki Aviation Takeoff Chrono Ref. Ref. H76786733)

In this respect, Hamilton shakes things up with the aviation concept as a platform for several collection innovations. Given functional mechanics like GMT function, drift, and a crosswind calculator – complimentary ornaments for a pilot-oriented timekeeper with peculiar utilitarian style. Though the collection includes historical re-issues and modern ones, together, they have pretty much become a hallmark characteristic of the Khaki collection.

(A Khaki Aviation Pioneer re-issue Ref. H76786733)

Let’s start right off with the Converter lineup. The Khaki Aviation Converter watches were launched in the spring of 2020 as a newer series of tool watches with a distinctive slide rule bezel that links back to their terminology. The slide rule function might be unique in the Khaki line, but the logarithmic bezel dates back to the early forties when the 17th-century logarithm was first integrated into wristwatches. First, by Mimo watched company (later Girard-Perregaux) in 1940, but it was made famous by none other than Breitling with their chronographs. Basically, the slide rule allows the calculation of exponents, logarithms, or roots, which assisting pilots with navigation and modern avionics back then. It enables them to perform the computation to track speed, fuel consumption, and etcetera.

(The first watch that bears a slide rule calculator)

Once we understand the link of the complex slide rule system, the Khaki Aviation Converter becomes worthy for pilots, and of course, watch lovers with aviation affections. The models come in two different sizes, with three other formats, all of which display the busy-looking bezel with double grooves on the surrounds, tastefully executed with a mixture of polish and satin finishes on the case.

(Two new Aviation Converter Auto with different taste of colorways)
(Left: H76615130; Right: H76635730)

Pairing the watches are matching leather straps or steel bracelets that are suited the aviation theme. First being the full-on chronograph version in steel and two-tone finished in gold and black PVD. The chronographs measure at 44mm and runs on the H-21-Si caliber similar to those Khaki Field Chronos, yet superior.

(The blue variant with GMT function Ref. H76715540)

Similarly sized, the traveler’s version is followed by a blue dial, a steel version that attained a GMT function. The H-14 automatic movement based on the H-10 and the additional GMT function enables the wearer to concurrently gain and tell different time zones. The last would be the simplest version that only features three hands and a date display, along with a set of varying case finishings and strap options. Wearing smaller at 42mm, they are powered by the ubiquitous H-10 automatic. With that, the Converters exude an individual complex yet timeless appeal, juiced with a full instrumental feel.

Moving on to the Pilot sub-set, we once again have a diversified array of timepieces. Trying to filter them accordingly for ease, we can identify several traits within. For instance, we’ve got the 42mm to 46mm Pilot Day-Date Autos based on the classic forties “Type B” dial. These are authentic pilot watches, heavily influenced by those German B-Uhr pilot watches during World War II – a de-facto design for a Flieger.

(42mm “Type B” Khaki Pilot Day Date Automatic Vintage Ref. H64645531)
(And it’s H-40 caliber that displays the day window at 12’o clock)

Modernly built by Hamilton, they come in different colorways with the additional day-date complication, powered by the H-30 (at 3 o’clock) and the H-40 (at 12’o clock) automatic movements day-date quartz ETA 955.422 movement. Like the Converters, they are paired with stainless steel bracelets or with leather straps.

Intriguingly, I’ll digress a little and draw in the Day-Date Auto and Pilot Chrono Quartz models. They were similar in design, measuring at 42mm (Day-Date Auto) and 44mm (Chrono Quartz) powered by the same H-40 caliber and the ETA 251.274 quartz. Therefore I would put them together with the Pilot Day-Date Autos.

(Affiliated sibling, the Pilot Chrono Quartz Photo Ref. H76722531)

That aside, we now attend to the historical models, which are the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer models. Unequivocally, the Pioneer Mechanical and Pioneer Chrono Quartz are another runaway hit as they entirely resemble those Royal Air Force military watches back in the seventies (you can refer back to those above).

Based on the W10, the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical features a true-to-size 33mm wide and 36mm lugs to lugs case in the tonneau form. Within the satin-finished case lies the exact dial aesthetic as the original 6BB, down to the italicized “Hamilton” font sans the Broad Arrow and tritium markings. To elevate the appeal, Hamilton went even further in placing a box-shaped mineral crystal and giving the H-50 manual-wind, general-purpose watch a unique textured background to enhance the ruggedness, the intended purpose of this piece.

(Look and feel exactly like the OG “6BB” from the early days)
(The 6BB Chrono remake Ref. H76522531)

Similarly, the Pilot Pioneer Chronograph Quartz pays tribute to the 6BB chronograph variant. The military pilot watch sticks to the original lopsided case but upsized to 41mm (from 38.5mm) and is hooded with a sapphire crystal and a quartz movement caliber G10.211. Instead of the venerable Valjoux 7733 movement’s horizontal layout, the G10.211 caliber adheres to the bi-complex theme, but with its 30-minute sub-dial at 10’o clock and ticking seconds at 6’o clock resulting in an asymmetrical look. Everything else stays the same as the Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, while Hamilton seeks to create a pared-down and refined contemporary W10 chronograph.

If the models mentioned above are based on vintage elements, the last X-Wind collection sits on the other side of the fence, embracing a modernistic sport-chic manner. First launched in the mid-2000s, the collection now comes in at 44mm for the mechanical chronographs, 45mm for the automatic three-hand versions, and 46mm for the GMT quartz chronographs. These sporty aviation watches have in common a built-in drift-angle calculation function through the inner and outer bezels.

(X-Wind Automatic Black Ref. H77785733 with a bezel that achieves drift-angle calculation)

Like the slide rule bezel from the Converter models, the X-wind enables pilots to implement this calculation and record the crosswinds they encounter on their journey. The rotating steel bezel is rotated, corresponding with the inner rehaut measurements adjusted through the two other screw-down crowns (total five for the chronographs) placed on the opposite side of the case with the main time adjustment crown.

(Display-back of the X-Wind shows the H-30 automatic movement)
(The X-Wind Chrono featured in Independence Day: Resurgence 2016)

Several colorways are available, and full blackouts or two-tone disguises are paired either on a double-riveted leather strap or a sports steel bracelet. According to the models, the 44m X-Wind Chronographs run on the H-21 (Si for the Limited Edition Ref. H77796535) mechanical automatic, the 45mm on the H-30 day-date automatic; and lastly, the 46mm quartz variants on the G10.962 quartz chronograph movement with GMT function and read through the 24-hour sub-dial at 10’o clock.

With that, the X-Wind feels like an all-rounder sports watch that suits more modern tastes, with the imposing case and complex aesthetics. These 100m water-resistant aviation-themed watches balance the overall Khaki Aviation line altogether with their rugged and robust execution.

The “H” Family.

Finally, we have covered the whole timeline of Hamilton’s military watchmaking journey and the Khaki collections’ birth. Before concluding this exhaustive in-depth read, I will address the current Swiss mechanical movements hooded within all the existing lineups. I felt obliged to give credit by elaborating further on those mechanical works listed here, as they are remarkably improved versions of the already remarkable Swiss movements within the ETA family.

Having been powered by ETA movements like the 2750 and 2801 movements previously, the now Swatch Group member used robust Swiss movements once again, this time with a set of highly regarded ETA calibers, which they worked into Hamilton’s watch collection.

(The Khaki Field Mechanical with the upgraded H-50, based on the previous ETA 2801 movement)

As we all know, Hamilton is part of the Swatch Group family. It is also inclusive of the industry’s top movement producer ETA SA, fitting under the same umbrella. With its acronym stood for “élégance, Technologie et précision,” the movement-maker started off in the 1930s by Eterna SA and became one of the largest movement suppliers to the whole watch industry. During a period of turmoil, ETA SA merged with the ASUAG (A Swiss manufacturer’s association) in 1973, two years before Hamilton came under SSIH. In 1983 ASUAG and SSIH joined together and formed the Swatch Group, and that is how both companies came under one roof.

(The historical ETA manufacturing facility in Grenchen, Switzerland) (Photo Credits: Monochrome Watches)

Some of their famed movements are the ETA 2801-2 for manual-winding, ETA 2824-2 automatic for the three hands and date, and the ETA 2892-2 automatic that are slightly a notch better than the 2824-2. Though these movements are supplied to those watch companies outside the group, ETA was, in fact, developing a series of powerful engines that were ahead of their competitors, reserved solely for the same group watch brands.

Hamilton benefitting from this is of paramount importance. It allowed them to entirely shift their use of those deemed archaic movements (nothing wrong with them) to the newly improved movements. Internal watch companies adopted the powerful calibers since 2011, which was demonstrated by Hamilton in recent times whereby they had almost wholly relied on the pantheon of improved C07.XXX calibers.

(Two CO7.XXX calibers that benefitted Hamilton)

Addressing first is the elephant in the room; the H-10 automatic is commonly housed in most Khaki three-handers with date display. The in-house labeled caliber is derived from the 25-jewel C07.611 automatic, a substantially upgraded ETA 2824-2 movement. So what are the significant changes on an already reliable movement from the sixties? Firstly, the power reserve has double up from the usual 40 hours to 80 hours through the improved spring barrel and more efficient construction, like a lowered balance frequency to 3 Hz.

(The C07.611 caliber was the base for the current Hamilton’s H-10 automatic)
(The dial’s side of H-10 (C07.611)

The 25.6mm movement has dropped in beat rate to 21,600BPH from 28,800BPH without upsetting the accuracy through the modern manufacturing processes. This might be a visual sensuality for Hamilton’s Khaki watches since the ticking of the seconds now is congruent to the original field watches that beat lower or similar beat rates.

Interestingly, when the C07.111 was launched, gone were the usual metal alloys used in the escapement. The 23-jewel C07.111 features a synthetic escapement that’s doesn’t wear off like metals while able to self-lubricate. However, this might discredit traditionalists quite a bit with an entry-grade, malleable material.

Therefore, Hamilton’s H-10 relies on the non-synthetic version, with an excellent regular escapement and feels more substantial. Another notable aspect of the movement is the superior free-sprung balance wheel with two regulator weights applied on the accuracy adjustment rim.

Apart from the superior upgrade on the C07.611, it has a versatile personality as a base movement. It can module more complications, and in the case of Hamilton, such as the GMT H-14 used in the Khaki Aviation Converter series.

Similarly, the same improvements and upgrades are found on the H-30 calibers used in the Khaki Day-Date Auto models, whereby the day display is shown through a disk with each day’s moniker in three letters. The 80 hours day-date caliber is based on the ETA C07.621, which roots from its predecessor, the ETA 2836-2 automatic movement.

Since we are on the topic of movement with day and date display, the H-40 is another. Based on the ETA 2834-2 caliber, the movement benefits from the whole word of the days be spelled out and displayed fully, and watches like the Khaki Field Kings are clad with this new upgraded automatically.

(The H-40 (ETA 2834-2) caliber within the “King” of Khaki Field)

Done with the automatic movements, now we shift our attention to the manual-winding that powers our beloved Khaki Field Mechanical and Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical. Inside them lies the heralded H-50 caliber that’s based on the C07.701 manual-winding movement. The C07.701 is descended from the predominant ETA 2801-2, which powered the vintage Hamilton’s Type 1 Mil-W-46374D field watches. Therefore the architecture remains the same as before, but now with the same upgrades from the C07 movements.

(The H-50 manual-winding caliber based on the C07.701)
(Dial’s side of the H-50 caliber)

The last one would be the chronograph movement H-21. The architecture of the H-21 movement is a tell-tale sign of what it’s based on, and it’s the workhorse Valjoux 7750. Therefore, the H-21 caliber is a respectable chronograph movement with its power reserve pumped up from 42 hours to 60 hours, with refined construction for better energy transfer and better escapement regulator for optimal precision and longevity. So much so that specific models like the Khaki Aviation Converter Chronos featured superior anti-magnetic silicon hairspring in the balance wheel for unimpeded “breathability.” 

(The H-21 caliber that’s found within the Khaki Chronographs like the Aviation Converter Chronos and X-Winds)
(Top: A modified Valjoux 7750 caliber with 60 hours power reserve in both the Khaki Auto Chrono; Bottom: The Jack Ryan’s Edition)

It’s no doubt that the Swiss ETA movements are always dependable. Automatic movements like the ETA 2824-2 are widely considered the “BMW engine” for the whole industry, yet they didn’t remain a stand-still. Instead, the industry’s dependable movement-maker managed to discreetly upgrade their base calibers over the years with a series of ingenious inventions, keeping them solely for the Swatch Group’s sister brands. With that, it bequeaths to Hamilton a little something extravagant and exclusive compared to other watchmakers in the market.

(H-50 caliber within the soft-iron cage of a Khaki Field Mechanical)

Selfish as it sounds initially, with the opportunity to have their own in-house fabricated movements, Hamilton now can have the Khaki military watches be clad with the top industrial workhorse movements from ETA. Therefore these new superior movements will still be a comfort to end-consumers. These all-rounder movements offer excellent reliability and exceptional value that caters not only to the wearers who enjoy them but find their way into the already value-oriented, robust Khakis without driving up the cost. Modern military watches with modern mechanical movements – a perfect match indeed.

Unswerving Stylings and Principles

It’s understood that the Khaki is considered the most enduring collection from Hamilton since its introduction back in the early eighties. These watches were a great continuation of the military genre that was a core pillar to the Swiss-American brand. Now, Hamilton has had brought models splashed with different touches of color and material into the current widespread of Khakis that we all know today as one of their hallmarks. An apparent conscious effort to retain the design language and principle behind each can be acknowledged from Hamilton’s work during war times.

(Wristcheck with the Khaki Field Mechanical Handwinding Earth Brown 38 Ref. H69449861)

Across all of Hamilton’s work as a fervid watchmaker providing reliable watches to meet the world’s demand at every stage, a few core principles evidently stood out. The relentless effort to preserve the whole military legacy speaks to Hamilton’s vision they hope to achieve with their eponymous brand. With their traditional design, the Khaki lineage pays tribute to their old-world crafts during the early 20th century.

In many ways, the design process, although it has ventured out radically for specific models, was a conspicuous evolution and innovation of those stringent mil-specs military pedestals, refining into a more contemporary direction of the genuine military spirit that the brand possesses.

From the first trench watch that the watchmaker produced in the mid-1910s, the brand’s prowess in creating and conceptualizing reliable military timekeepers has been unwavering. This can clearly be seen in each decade’s production, from the vintages (pre-nineties) to the reinterpretations, all of which looked to imbue the original aesthetic that was once esoteric to the US and Allies’ military needs.

(As sober and no-nonsense as it can get)

Indeed, when translating a different Khaki iteration apart from GG-W-113-inspired design, the brand distilled adaptive tweaks while keeping the core military spirit and ethos in it, for instance, like the imposing BeLOWZEROs, the unpretentious Scuba Autos, and not forgetting the modernist X-Winds. These models are not primarily a proper “field watch” in any way, but their rugged aesthetics and valorous attitude adhere to the brand’s signature elements axiomatically – not removing any of the watches’ intrinsic military appeal.

(Never forget its roots, just like the Khaki Aviation Pioneer)

While other brands have attempted to forge the same path, only a handful can claim an authentic romance of their heritage without falling out of place. Hamilton has culminated a sense of purpose – with a straightforward design and elevation in both substance and style. They have kept the Khaki lineup in place and, in many ways, cementing the watchmaker as one of the most desirable.

A final element that the brand has brought from its years since birth in America was the reliance on high-quality movements. Hamilton has also managed to keep up over the years, upgrading the mechanical engines for their timepieces. Since the production of full plate-movements adapted to the requirements of Railway service in the 1880s, through the in-house 983 and 987 calibers used in the wartime, and the consistent camaraderie of Swiss calibers during the post-war period. These stalwart movements speak of Hamilton’s intransigence commitment to quality. All of the regular updates are noteworthy in many ways that commingle well with the Khaki collection characteristics since the beginning.

Personal Thoughts

Even though the Hamilton military watches are not highly prized on the secondary market, they are pieces of American history, and that might make them meaningful and collectible to you.

Keith W. Strandberg, Revolution

Through this article’s journey, we see the formative offerings of Hamilton are not just merely fortuitous. The Khaki line followed through adequately in all ways, rich in stylistic variety, consenting among the watch cognoscenti. It’s interesting to think that today’s modernized military-themed watches might befit today’s trend of throwback nostalgia, but we know this factor for Hamilton would be much more than that. Their unwavering efforts in continuing what they do best, even when the government calling is over, speaks of how resilient it can be.

(Hamilton’s military watchmaking affair goes deeper than the Khaki collection)

Hamilton’s timeline from the first military timepiece to the Khaki collection might be transformative, but their watches’ spiritual and visual appeal are thoroughly congruent. The storied past and the expertise to manufacture one according to the callings have all contributed to this. Yes, you could hold a vintage GG-W-113 or the Mil-W-4637 and see the lineage in today’s Khaki, like you can with a Mercedes or Mini-Cooper, in parallel with the motor industry.

Personally, military watches have always been a source of marvel to me. It exerts certain gravitas, born during the grim war period, celebrating their perceived peculiarities ever since. These individual watches entail an intrinsic look that churns indelible timekeepers and are considered a form of objet d’art. The military watches and Khaki collection from Hamilton culminated a steadfast spirit of adventure and reliability, triumphing with a sense of alternative pulchritudinous horology for those for whom tool watches are their ‘thing.’

(The new Khaki Navy Frogman celebrates the spirit of the BuShip canteen watches during WWI)
(Khaki Navy Blue Frogman with its modernized screw-cap protection)

Evidently dedicated to this genre, Hamilton has further enhanced its archive and skills to bring us their very own military-themed watches with modern iterations. The now Swatch Group’s watchmaker continues to express a genuine love of their horology with a profound understanding of balancing their heritage with the current watch industry. Their reputation is well earned, and today they continue to offer the uber military-genre collection speaks quality and value.

(Modernly built with longstanding military spirit)

Either you are a dye-in-the-wool type on all things military watchmaking or simply love a well-built mechanical watch that fits your active lifestyle. The Khaki collection incubates the desire that caters to both types. They are also widespread of formidable timepieces that pose great daily beaters just like before – representing great mechanics at undeniable price points – commingling functional design with great emotion and enjoyment for the wearer at play.

Conclusion

So there we go, the story of Hamilton’s military watchmaking journey is a vast one, dating back to more than a century ago, mapping down their historic touchstones as one of the fine horologists. Although this article was an exhaustive one, numerous watches and scrutinization of details remain relatively uncharted – a brief skim-through on the fluffy foams of your Frappuccino this might be. However, this narrative insight sets out to be a guide on discovering all things related to the birth of its Khaki collection that we all know today – a comprehensive illustration of how these brazen watches became synonymous with the brand and admired by military watch enthusiasts.

(The Khaki legacy lives on)

Over the past thirty years, the Khaki collection has become a true progeny of those form-follow-function military timepieces that once were strapped on the wrists of brave soldiers. Drawing from their roots within their historical journey, in terms of how they gradually built and conformed their watches that once catered to the world’s military, is an interesting one. Now, through the Khaki line, it displays a genuine appreciation for the brand’s own heritage. Today’s iterations seem to combine the pursuit of more nuanced execution and finishing in an array of already proven reliable field watches, with a special appreciation for their heritage and aesthetics.

As much as many of us espouse the enjoyment of owning something that’s historically driven, these Khaki watches are more than trend-driven re-issues. They are the truism of Hamilton’s great watchmaking through many decades. Whether they are modern reinterpreted or the innovative, avant-garde sports watches, they permeate an authentic sense of connection of Hamilton’s emblematic heritage, more than dedicating exquisite timepieces cinched in movie films. Their presence and legacy in the world of military tool watch merely are undeniable.

(Sober, functional, and utilitarian)

After going through the journey, it’s safe to say that Hamilton has sealed their Khaki legacy and, in the meantime, innovated their past glories with more elusive military watches for us to enjoy. Remember, with every Khaki piece strapped on your wrist, it’s a passage through Hamilton’s century worth of competent watchmaking, all painting of what the watch brand is all about.

Gnomon Watches first opened her doors for business online in early 2002, founded by bona fide horology suitors who share a profound passion for watchmaking and fine craftsmanship.

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