Hamilton has recently been looking at its past, with multiple models in the “Heritage” line, including the 1970s Intra-Matic Chronograph and, of course, the military-inspired, accessible, cool-looking Khaki Field Mechanical. Really, there’s a lot to love in these collections. Today, the Swatch Group-owned brand takes another of its glorious military models, the W10, and reissues it in a (very) faithful way. Let’s take a look at the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical.
The Hamilton W10
Hamilton was founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA (even if it’s now Swiss-owned, the brand was originally American) and has been a great supplier of watches to military forces. If you look at the Khaki Field Mechanical series, you’ll immediately notice the military inspiration, as this watch is a re-issue of a mid-20th-century model named the Hamilton “Hacked”. Faithful to the original, powered by a reliable hand-wound movement, showing restrained proportions, this series was an instant hit – especially considering its price of around EUR 500.
The same recipe is used again here, with a new inspiration, the Hamilton W10. This watch, again a military-issued piece, was produced from 1973 to 1976, for the British Ministry of Defense. The W10 was mostly issued to pilots. The case has a characteristic 1970s helmet-shape but the rest of the watch retains the elements found on the Dirty Dozen watches: matte black dial, railroad minute track, luminous hands and markers.
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
Hamilton’s new watch is another example of vintage re-edition… Still, this doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy a nice, old-school looking military watch. What is more impressive – and you’ll see why later – is how faithful this re-issue is. In fact, the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is almost a 1-to-1 copy of the W10.
Starting with the case, Hamilton retains the typically 1970s pilot-shaped case, with integrated lugs and a slightly recessed crown in the caseband. The case, like the original, has been given a matte finish to avoid reflections – the surfaces are entirely brushed (including a nice vertical brushing on the sides). On top of the watch, we have the only real evolution in the form of a hardened mineral crystal. Still, it is box-shaped like the original Plexiglas and it will provide better scratch protection. The caseback is held in place by four screws and the watch is water-resistant to 100m.
Now let’s talk dimensions… While most of the vintage re-editions tend to grow in size to meet modern standards, Hamilton doesn’t use that trick. The Khaki Field Mechanical featured a 38mm case. This new Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is entirely faithful to the original model… And that means 36mm (from 3 to 9) and 33mm (from 12 to 6). Yes, you read well, a brand has had the guts in 2019 to launch a tool watch, made for men, with a diameter of just 36mm. And that’s really appreciable.
On the wrist and because of these restrained dimensions, the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical retains the charm of old watches. It is compact and comfortable, and surprisingly never feels small either. The tonneau shape of the case gives it a greater presence than numbers would lead you to believe, and the fact that it is worn on a NATO strap also enlarges the watch (the watch is available in a choice of storm-grey textile or vintage-looking brown leather). We really applaud the decision of Hamilton to stay true to the original dimensions!
The dial of the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is also historically relevant, with several small evolutions to note. The surface of the dial is grained and matte to avoid reflections (and it is really effective), with a grainy texture that calls to mind the case of cameras or binoculars from the pre-digital age. The white Arabic numerals are also identical to the W10 and the same goes for the railroad track and luminous markers – no doubt MoD inspiration here. The hands, which are nickeled, also feature some beige (faux-patina) luminous material. The only evolution concerns the removal of the “T” and arrow on the dial.
Powering the Hamilton Khaki 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).
In all fairness, this is another winner for Hamilton. The faithfulness of the re-edition is impressive and we must applaud the brand for staying true to the original dimensions and styling. It is rare enough in today’s market and few are the brands that are bold enough to avoid the trap of modern standards (oversized watches). This adds great charm to this piece. Considering the price level, the execution is very pleasant and the price/quality ratio is excellent.
Price and availability
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical will be available in the coming days (early September 2019) and will be priced at EUR 745 (on textile, ref H76419931) and EUR 795 (on leather, ref H76419531). The watch is available at Hamilton webshop here: www.hamiltonwatch.com