Hamilton introduced the updated Khaki Field Mechanical in early 2018, which complemented the original hand-wound model without replacing it. The dial dropped the 3 o’clock date and adopted a vintage military aesthetic from its mid-20th century archives (the Hamilton “Hacked”). Back then, the now-Swiss brand was American and produced robust, reliable watches for the military with hacking seconds for soldiers to synch time. The 2018 edition proved to be wildly popular as a no-nonsense, hand-wound field watch for almost every occasion (with a very palatable price tag). New colours were introduced in 2019 with an upgraded movement as well – still hand-wound, but with almost double the power reserve. The latest iteration comes with a black PVD case and black dial and goes full stealth for those seeking an edgier design.
The case dimensions are unchanged and go back to the earlier Khaki Field Mechanical with date. At 38mm in diameter, it’s a bit on the smaller side but maintains that vintage charm while still being contemporary and very wearable. The new colours from earlier in 2019 introduced a brownish PVD case alongside the sandblasted silver models, but this new black PVD version really changes things up.
Although the dial design is the same, the black-on-black colour scheme separates this model from the others more than I expected. The back is solid unlike some automatic Khaki Field counterparts, but features a cool two-toned satin and sandblasted finish with the brand’s vintage H logo in the latter section. The signed crown also features the vintage H and the crystal is durable sapphire. It’s a bit on the reflective side (and black dials compound this), but I’ve seen worse. Like every Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm before it, the case is water-resistant to 50 metres.
The dial is classic Hamilton with unmistakable military roots. I had a couple of vintage models on hand for comparison and the similarities are clear. Next to a 1981 US Military Ref. MIL-W-46374B, the dials are almost identical save for a lack of full branding on the military piece. A 1984 L.L. Bean-branded Hamilton field watch (common co-branding in the 1980s) had a similar setup with thinner numerals.
Although the new model is only 38mm, it still dwarfs the decades-old models. The black dial has a double-hour scale featuring large 12-hour Arabic numerals and smaller 24-hour (13 to 24) numerals circling just inside. HAMILTON is printed small near the top and is the only branding – the earlier variant featured KHAKI MECHANICAL at the bottom. As previously mentioned, the date has been dropped in favour of being a traditional, time-only piece. The hands and triangular minute markers feature sand-coloured (faux patina) Super-LumiNova. The blacked-out aesthetic provides a more formal appearance in the office and stealthy vibe should you find yourself on a night-time covert mission.
The movement has been upgraded from the hand-wound ETA 2801-2 at the initial 2018 launch to Hamilton’s proprietary H-50 calibre (ETA base) that pushes the power reserve from 42 to 80 hours. An impressive feat for such an affordable piece. It has 17 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with that 80-hour power reserve. Accuracy has been impressive in my week-long test, gaining only five seconds per day. It remains unseen behind the steel caseback but is a well finished (yet undecorated), aesthetically pleasing movement. An exhibition caseback option would’ve been awesome.
The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm series is among the most affordable Swiss pieces of its kind. With the exception of a few burgeoning microbrands, the Seiko 5 collection is among the only real competition in terms of value. The Black PVD variant adds a stealthy design element that I suspect many will prefer. It comes with a matching dark grey NATO strap with black loops and a PVD-coated buckle and can be swapped with a 20mm conventional two-piece strap if desired (I’m admittedly not the biggest NATO strap fan).
Price and availability
The new Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm black PVD retails for EUR 495 or USD 545, which is a bit more than the standard model’s EUR 445 / USD 495 price, but the all-black design is worth the modest increase. For a mechanical field watch with an upgraded ETA base offering 80 hours on a full wind, this is a real bargain. And the overall quality of the watch is, when considering the price, pretty impressive. Visit Hamilton’s website for more information and orders.