Quick Take

Any new iteration of the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical has big shoes Ė or rather, big combat boots Ė to fill. What youíre looking at is the progeny of a bona fide piece of American history.*
This update to the classic Khaki feels like itís hit the target. At 38mm itís modern and wearable, while still maintaining that sort of old-school cool thatís been in American military watch DNA since the '40s, and it comes with new green and white dials, along with a new case finish called *Earth PVD.*
When it comes to American military watches, all roads lead to an old set of government specifications put out by the Army Ordnance Department to major watchmakers in the 1940s: a robust hackable movement, tough crystal, center sweeping seconds, and a one-piece strap. In short, it was the perfect recipe for a watch that could take a bit of roughing up; it left out anything it didnít need in order to do one thing well, and that one thing was simply telling the time.*
Hamilton answered the governmentís call and produced watches for Allied forces during WW2. It can be argued that this is when the ďmodernĒ field watch came to be, setting the tone for this 2019 iteration of the Khaki Field. *In the Ď60s the government updated to ďGG-W-113Ē and ďMIL-W-3818BĒ specifications, and all that means is that the watches got a little larger and a little more legible with a few tweaks. The Khaki Field Mechanical shares the largest swath of design language with this Ď60s-era design. Plenty of airmen and soldiers of the time carried out their duties with these purely functional timepieces on the wrist. Many examples saw duty during the Vietnam Conflict.*
This new line of Khaki Field Mechanical watches come with green, black and white dials and a dark greenish-brown PVD case that pushes them further into the "tacticool" category. To be clear, this isnít an issued watch, so Hamilton can take some liberties with the colors they use. Being free from the government-mandated design regulations has allowed Hamilton to have some fun with the aesthetic; the white dialed version is unequivocally handsome. Theyíve kept the philosophy of the original watch but since cost-saving measures and stringent regulations arenít part of the equation, itís perhaps a much better watch than its recent ancestors.*
Initial Thoughts

The new dial and case colors are the most striking element of this iteration of the Khaki Field watch, but letís put the new colors aside for a moment and focus on the technical updates. The major change is the inclusion of the H-50 movement, a movement we saw last year in the Khaki 50mm special edition (an upsized Khaki with a red-tipped second hand). There couldnít be a better movement to put in a watch like this. Itís a proprietary Hamilton caliber, itís hand-wound, and it features an 80-hour power reserve. Thatís double the power reserve of the prior models, which inversely means youíll have the opportunity to wind it only half as much. Advancement requires a bit of sacrifice, sadly.*
At 38mm, itís just about the perfect size for a field watch too, and naturally it comes on a green or brown NATO. The crystal is a reliable sapphire just in case anyone plans to actually use it in the field, and itís rated to 50 meters of water resistance. Those are some solid specs, but not surprising given this is a piece of kit whose ancestors have actually seen the sort of action that could mutilate a watch. Itís one of those designs that changes so infrequently because itís simply so good at what it does that it doesnít need to.*
A larger trend has been happening over the last few years where military looks are creeping into the streetwear and trendy aesthetic; the MA-1 flight jacket has become a mainstay, along with rugged outerwear and combat boots. Itís easy to lump the release of this Hamilton into that world, but for the true milwatch nerds thereís a little treat with the new line of dial colors. In addition to green and black we are getting a crispy white dial. Remember those early government specifications for the American field watch? *They mostly called for black dials because itís much easier to conceal.
Hereís whatís interesting: Before those initial specifications were issued there were plenty of soldiering watches featuring white dials. In fact, many early Hamilton Army Ord. Dept. watches had white dials, so this new Khaki Field Mechanical does in fact draw on some legitimate history. Itís a charming anachronistic mashup of military watches from the distant past wrapped up in a package fit for the present.*
The Super-Luminova is what Hamilton calls ďsand colored,Ē but itís probably best described as faux patina. It fits in with the anachronistic mashup appeal of the watch, and itís seldom seen on white dials. The contrast the indices present on the white-dialed variant is particularly interesting, as the last time we saw this sort of contrasting look was during the FDR administration. On the black and green dials it works even better, as Hamilton hasnít been too heavy-handed with the faux vintage look. The numbers printed on the dial(both black and white) have a bit of a glossy finish, which is very much something that wasnít present on issued watches. The gleaming effect actually helps legibility.*
New for this iteration of the Khaki is an Earth PVD coating with a slight textural graininess. The new look is a sensible design break from the norm that's easy to imagine as a finish a soldier might consider. The Khaki is a watch thatís ripe for frequent strap changes, and it will be interesting to see what makes this new case finish pop. For the purists, however, thereís still a trusty old stainless steel option with a black dial. Technical updates are always a good thing for any piece of military-grade equipment, it's an essential part of maintaining wrist superiority.
The Basics

Brand: Hamilton
Model: Khaki Field Mechanical
*
Diameter: 38mm
Thickness: 10mm
Case Material: Stainless steel (with Earth PVD option)
Dial Color: Black, Green, White
Lume: Super-LumiNova, Sand Color
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Strap/Bracelet: NATO strap
The Movement

Caliber: H-50
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Power Reserve: 80 hours
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 vph)
Pricing & Availability

Price: $495-$575
Availability: Models with the white dial are available via Toppers in May, and the rest of the U.S. in August. The remaining models will be available in May.*
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