Hamilton‘s connection with military forces and pilots is undeniable, and strong. In the past, the brand has been one of the main suppliers of both American and British forces, resulting in some arguably cool models with a typical no-nonsense look. We’ve recently seen this inspiration within the Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph, reviving a vintage watch for the RAF. But it’s not the only model in the collection to be based on such a background… Remember the cool and compact W10-inspired Pilot Pioneer of 2019…? Well, it’s back now in two new fresh colours. And indeed, it’s nothing historically relevant, but still does look good.
In 2019, Hamilton brought back one of its most emblematic pilot’s watches of the past, a small and quirky watch once made for the pilots of the Royal Air Force, a model known under the code W10. The W10 watches (mid-1960s) were first produced, entirely in the UK, by Smiths. But by the early 1970s, Smiths was replaced by Hamilton for the production of the W10. Made for the British Ministry of Defense from 1973 to 1976, these models had a different case, typical of the era, with a so-called tonneau or helmet shape. The W10 was mostly issued to pilots and featured a hand-wound movement. Although the overall design was modernised, the basics of these watches were still very close to what was once found on the Dirty Dozen.
Then came a re-edition in 2019, the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, first released in a faithful and historically-relevant black edition. And surprises came from the presence of a hand-wound movement and a case that was almost as small as the original watch… It’s still rather unusual to see a 36mm being launched on the market these days, even though it truly worked in the context of this W10-inspired re-edition model.
Now that the model has established its presence in a classic and faithful version, it’s time for Hamilton to play a bit with colours. Surely, some will argue that this watch should have a black dial, and nothing else. I personally understand this point, at least in the interest of historical relevance, but it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of fun too. And since the idea isn’t to replace the traditional black dial but to complement it with more options, everything should be alright, isn’t it?
So what’s the deal for the 2022 collection? Well, nothing has really changed in terms of design, proportions and specifications. The recipe that has once been successful with the black edition is still there, and tasty. It’s all about the addition of new colours, which result in quite a new look for the W10 re-edition. But back to the watch itself, first.
The case of all Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is small. Like smaller than 99% of the watches on the market these days. Just like the original watch it reproduces, this modern take on the W10 retains the typically 1970s pilot-shaped case, with integrated lugs and a slightly recessed crown in the caseband. Entirely brushed, it features a screwed caseback and is water-resistant to 100 metres. On top is a hardened mineral box-shaped crystal with double anti-reflective coating. And the case measures 36mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug of just over 41mm. And as said in our past articles on this watch, there’s something truly special about a compact tool watch… The charm of old watches!
Inside the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is the calibre H-50, a modernized version of the hand-wound ETA 2801-2 with a slower frequency (3Hz vs 4Hz) but an improved power reserve of 80 hours. Here again, there’s a historical link, as the old W10 was powered by an ETA 2750, the ancestor of the ETA 2801 (same architecture, different escapement and addition of a stop-seconds).
As for the dial, the classic pilot’s look is undeniable, as well as the traditional features of watches delivered to the MoD and the RAF. This includes a highly legible railroad minute track with luminous hour markers. In the interest of low-light legibility, these have different shapes depending on their position (rectangles, dots and a triangle) and are coated with Super-LumiNova. The lance-shaped hands are also in line with the historic watch, and luminous. The grained dial is, however, now available in two new colours.
First is a bright and still rather instrument-like silver-white dial, with black contrasting tracks and numerals. This version of the Hamilton Khaki Aviation is worn on a grey NATO strap and has reference H76419951. The other watch feels even more surprising in this military context, but still rather cool. The reference H76419941 comes with a blue dial, white tracks and markers and is worn on a colour-matched blue NATO strap.
Availability & Price
The new white and blue editions of the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical for 2022 are now available from the brand and retailers. The retail price remains the same as the black dial edition, meaning EUR 845, USD 845, CHF 845 or GBP 740. Pretty good value for a watch with history, quality and coming from a respectable brand.
For more details, please visit www.hamiltonwatch.com.