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Thread: Hamilton Khaki

  1. #1
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Oct 2014
    Kent - UK

    Hamilton Khaki

    I hadn't been thinking of buying one of these until a forum discussion prompted me to pluck it out of the air as an example of a good everyday quartz. But then I thought - well, maybe I should have a field watch... maybe in place of my Seiko quartz chrono. Yes, I should definitely have a field watch.

    What is a field watch?

    Strictly speaking, it's an infantry watch as specified by American and British defence authorities in the latter part of the twentieth century. Stripped of detail, and depending on era, the standards describe a round black-dialled watch with a full (or near-full) set of Arabic numerals, hands that meet their markers, central hacking seconds and a matte case.

    The American type has subsidiary 24hr markers, the British type has a triangle at '12' (Hamilton made both types). It should be 'small-medium' in size, with fixed-pin lugs to take a pull-through strap. Movements can be mechanical or quartz. It shouldn't have a timing or 12hr bezel (or it becomes either a 'mission' or navigator watch).

    Field watches are about clarity and practicality, and the originals had to be cheap enough to buy and replace in bulk. Some were intended to be disposable. To this day, if a field watch is too well-appointed, it becomes something else (see the Hamilton Khaki Field Skeleton Auto...). As with other proprietary military watches, field watches are largely a thing of the past, which is reflected in period details like needle-tipped hands and acrylic crystals.

    The field watch legacy has come to rest with Hamilton, and to a lesser extent, with Marathon, CWC and Smiths. The formation of CWC was a direct result of Hamilton going out of business in 1972. Smiths is a reinvented brand, but then so, in its way, is Hamilton.

    So if I wanted a current field watch with a trace of authenticity, it was quite likely to be a Hamilton. Field watches might seem to be commonplace, but the Hamilton Khaki doesn't really have a direct competitor, other than the Smiths Military.

    It's a watch that's best in its most basic and affordable form - either quartz or hand-wind. The hand-wind has the more open dial but has oddly truncated hands, and for me the quartz model has the best balance of features (size, finish, hands, date position). Plus, I had identified a collection slot marked 'undemanding everyday quartz', so it was this or nothing.

    In the hand, on the wrist.

    Build quality is unobtrusively good. The size and profile (38mm x 10mm) keep it out of harm's way and close to the wrist. The bead-blasted case plays second fiddle to the dial, as it should, and the monotone colour scheme is plain and purposeful.

    Glancing down at it, your focus locks onto the numerals and hands. The hands are terrific. The largish crown is easy to grip (in those 'synchronise watches' moments...). The strap is more or less ideal - brown, untextured, sturdy - and of higher quality than I was expecting. A fabric strap would be a good alternative.

    In character, it's a functional thing made handsome by functionality. It's a bit smarter than it has to be, with a curved sapphire crystal and subtle microgrooves on the dial, but it's recognisably descended from a military original. To risk a car analogy... it's more Land Rover Discovery than Defender. It's relaxed and unassuming, which gives it a kind of cool. You could wear it for knockabout stuff during the day and not bother to take it off for the restaurant in the evening. Splendid.

    Anything wrong with it?

    The sub-divided seconds have the effect of condensing the dial, but they also contribute to the character of the watch. The 'Hamilton' text could be slightly smaller, but I'm generally sensitive to the size of brand names. It would be nice if the 15:00 marker wasn't 'out of round', but it can't be helped, unless you want to lose the date, and it's only really evident in photos. None of these things matter, and they're characteristics rather than flaws. I'll take it the way it comes.

    It suits me better than the Seiko that it's notionally (for the moment) replacing.

    Last edited by tribe125; May 5, 2015 at 11:55 PM.

  2. #2
    I wasn't aware that Hamilton had this model with a quartz movement. It's a nice watch. Congratulations.

    And thank you for the review.

  3. Likes JAGtime liked this post
  4. #3
    Member Teeritz's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Melb, AUS
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    Great score! I love Hamilton. I have the hand-wound Khaki Officer's Mechanical. Despite its 44mm diameter on my 6.5 inch wrist, it's a beautifully-made watch. Nice review, by the way, with some interesting information, thanks!


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  5. #4
    Member CamB's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Down Under
    Nice watch and review !!
    Regards Cam

    Tudor Pelagos, Omega Speedmaster 3510.50, Oris 1965 Diver, Tissot Visodate, Junghans Max Bill Auto, Helson Blackbeard, Seiko PADI Turtle, Tag Heuer F1

  6. #5
    Super Member Raza's Avatar
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    Nice! I'm a big fan of Hamiltons. I've had many in the past (just recently moved two of them, I have three still). Great looking watch, very versatile and no doubt very durable.

  7. #6
    What a beauty!! i really2 want a Hamilton but in my country they are almost $1000, triple the price than the US... so for now, i'm searching for some alternative..

    i'm okay with quartz for tool time piece, infact i prefer them in quartz since the reliability and the convinient factor... that hamilton is just lovely and perfect size/design.

    right now i have 1 field watch and its from VSA from the infantry line =)
    i just love the extreme legibility of these kind of watch... you can read time in slight glance..

    thx a lot for your great Post tribe.. and may be i should gan a brown leather for mine.. your's look great with black and brown!
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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  9. #7
    Very nice! It looks very good on your wrist. Looks like it's comfortable, too. Enjoy!

    Eterna | Tudor | Seiko | Casio | G-Shock | Orient | Swatch | Mondaine | Zodiac (pre-Fossil) | Rolex | Wenger | Pulsar Time Computer | Omega | Timex | Bucherer | Citizen | Bulova | Glycine

  10. #8
    A really smart looking watch, and the Quartz should provide peace of mind when you are in "the field." Congratulations!

  11. #9
    Moderator gnuyork's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Marietta, GA
    My first real watch was a Hamilton Khaki (conservation). I gave it to my brother when I got my PO, but I slightly regret it. Always liked Hamiltons. Nice one you have there, Tribe
    Last edited by gnuyork; May 6, 2015 at 03:47 AM.

  12. #10
    Where in the spec does it say "date"?
    La lutte elle-mme vers les sommets suffit remplir un cur d'homme; il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.

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