Hamilton, once an American watchmaker (now owned by the Swatch Group) has a long tradition of military and pilot’s watches. Since 1918, countless aviation-oriented models have been created and the current collection still pays tribute to this rich heritage, with modern models such as the X-Wind or the Aviation Converter, but also with vintage-inspired models such as the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical. Today, the brand has decided to enlarge this range of retro-styled watches with a new series of models paying tribute to an emblematic pocket watch, the Model 23. Here are the new Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer 38mm Automatic and 43mm Hand-Wound.
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Collection
Behind the name Khaki Pilot Pioneer lies a collection of watches inspired by the brand’s rich past in the field of pilot’s instruments. Most of them are watches that pay tribute to an old existing model and are revived with a certain (fluctuant, depending on the model) level of faithfulness. Take for instance the handsome Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, a watch that is almost identical to the W10 wristwatches once delivered to the British Ministry of Defense – basically, the aviation equivalent of the military-inspired Khaki Field Mechanical. But there’s more, such as the Khaki AviationPilot Pioneer Chrono (a Quartz watch, unfortunately), inspired by 1970s military chronographs. And today, it’s about bringing the flair of one of the brand’s most important pocket watches into a modernized, wrist-sized model.
Behind the new Khaki Pilot Pioneer 38mm Automatic and 43mm Hand-Wound lies the Model 23, a mil-spec pocket watch made for the U.S. Air Force during the Second World War. In addition to over one million military wristwatches, Hamilton provided armed forces with more than 27,000 of these Model 23 pocket watches throughout the war. “A cutting-edge chronograph of its time, the Model 23 was of particular use to U.S. Army Air Force navigators. Slim, ultra-legible numerals, cathedral hands and an authentic railway track outer scale” are defining these watches.
Now, in 2021, Hamilton is using the codes of these Model 23 pocket watches and their elegant dial aesthetic to create the new members of the Khaki Pilot Pioneer collection, wristwatches with a no-nonsense, utilitarian and retro-looking pilot style, offered in two versions, one in a 38mm case with an automatic movement, and one in a 43mm case with a hand-wound calibre – knowing that the later is available either in steel or in bronze. And Hamilton being Hamilton, these watches are once again offered at very fair prices. And if the relevance of the inspiration and how it has been transposed into a wristwatch is somehow debatable, it’s hard not to admit that the result is visually attractive.
The Steel or Bronze Khaki Pilot Pioneer 43mm Hand-Wound
First and foremost is the largest edition, which brings back a big hand-wound movement that was once the apanage of pocket watches, the all-classic ETA Unitas. Built around this large engine is an equally large pilot’s watch, with respectable dimensions of 43mm in diameter and 13mm in height. The case bears all the classic cues of aviation-oriented watches, such as an oversized onion-shaped crown, large enough to be used with gloves. And even though it doesn’t screw down, the case is 100m water-resistant. The case is entirely brushed with simple, instrumental design. The most notable feature of this new collection is the bezel, which is bi-directional and fitted with a scratch-resistant mineral glass insert with a 60-minute countdown scale.
Under the anti-reflective sapphire crystal is a dial that pays tribute to the past, with a matte grained surface and a display that is an ode to the Model 23, with simple yet legible Arabic numerals, a clean railroad track, a well-positioned small seconds indicator and, star of the show, luminous cathedral hands. All indications are executed in old-radium coloured luminous material.
As you’ve noticed, this Khaki Pilot Pioneer 43mm Hand-Wound is available in two distinct editions. The first has a classic stainless steel case with nickeled hands. The other one has a bronze case, with a titanium caseback and hands that are rose gold-coloured. Otherwise, both editions are identical and worn on a brown vintage-style leather strap closed by a pin buckle.
Under the hood is a classic movement, the ETA 6498-1, a large hand-wound calibre with a slow 2.5Hz frequency and a 50h power reserve. It is simply decorated, with straight brushed bridges. The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer 43mm Hand-Wound steel will be priced at EUR 1,095 and the bronze model at EUR 1,345.
Quick Facts: 43mm diameter x 13mm height – stainless steel or bronze with titanium back, brushed, 100m water-resistant – bi-directional bezel with mineral glass insert – AR sapphire crystal on top, see-through caseback – matte grained black dial with small seconds, old-radium luminous markers and hands – ETA Unitas 6498-1, hand-wound, 2.5Hz, 50h power reserve – 20/18mm leather strap with pin buckle – reference H76719530 (steel) and H76709530 (bronze) – CHF 1,195, EUR 1,095 or USD 1,295 in steel – CHF 1,450, EUR 1,345 or USD 1,545 in bronze
The Khaki Pilot Pioneer 38mm Automatic
If the 43mm diameter and the hand-wound movement of the Khaki Pilot Pioneer described above isn’t your thing, no worries, as Hamilton has you covered, with this second edition of the watch. Based on the same overall design, this version comes in a much more compact 38mm stainless steel case, with the identical 100m water-resistance and (slightly less) oversized onion-shaped crown. This smaller model retains the bi-directional bezel with mineral glass countdown insert and has a lug width of 18mm. It is worn on a brown leather strap with pin buckle.
The dial of the Khaki Pilot Pioneer 38mm Automatic is also in the same vein, with a matte black grained base, simple Arabic numerals, a railroad minute track and nickeled cathedral hands. All the elements are old-radium-coloured for the vintage vibe but the display has been updated to a classic central H-M-S. Under the see-through caseback is the calibre H10, Hamilton’s name for the group’s Powermatic 80, an upgrade over the classic 2824 base. This movement shares the same architecture but comes with an extended power reserve of 80 hours – thanks to a revised kinetic chain and a 3Hz frequency – as well as a Nivachron anti-magnetic hairspring.
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer 38mm Automatic will be priced at a reasonable EUR 895.
Quick Facts: 38mm diameter x 11.4mm height – stainless steel case, brushed, 100m water-resistant – bi-directional bezel with mineral glass insert – AR sapphire crystal on top, see-through caseback – matte grained black dial with central seconds, old-radium luminous markers and hands – Calibre H10 (Powermatic 80), automatic, anti-magnetic Nivachron hairspring, 3Hz frequency, 80h power reserve – 18/16mm leather strap with pin buckle – reference H76205530 – CHF 945, EUR 895 or USD 995
All three watches will be available soon from retailers and the brand’s website. For more details and orders, please visit www.hamiltonwatch.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.