My Thoughts on the Iconic Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic
A comprehensive and positive review of one of the most significant field watches in all of watchmaking history.
Remarkable. I think it would only be right commencing this review on the highest possible note. The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic was my first Swiss watch and after weeks of research and contemplation, I pulled the trigger and never looked back since.
This model is reference number H70455733 and measures a diameter of 38mm with a 20mm lug width, featuring a nifty little date window at the 3 o' clock position. What irritated me at first, as I am sure many others experienced, is that unlike the standard method of replacing the indices on the right, the date window is positioned alongside the 3 o'clock marker, or in this case being a field watch, the 15. Although it does create a rather odd asymmetrical look, I was really looking to get a date complication and over time, it did grow on me. It is worth mentioning that there are many other models ranging from day-date complications, manual movements and something dressier and plush, no-date leather strapped models.
The watch consists of a brushed case with a polished bezel and an over sized but substantial gripped crown which features manual wind. It boasts a reasonable 100m water resistance, perfectly adequate for every day usage but swimming and other water activities if you happen to need it. What adds to the durability is a sapphire crystal which is ever so slightly domed, adding to the beautiful aesthetic. The syringe hands along with the red-tipped second hand, allow an exceptionally intricate and accurate reading of the time to be made, right to the very minute and second which makes it a breeze when setting up the watch.
The dial is legible in every setting and angle, in daylight and darkness; the luminescent is powerfully bright and glows with a greenish tint, lighting up the inner hour indices, minute and hour hands. The standard leather strap I bought it on was not to my taste and so I swapped it out for a black NATO strap which I feel is a lot more suitable for this style of watch. Overall, the finishing on the case and dial is exquisite and along with the neutral colours, makes it a very versatile, casual watch.
The magnificent movement
Keeping the watch's heart pumping is a Calibre H-10 automatic movement, which is based on an ETA containing 25 jewels and can be adored from the slightly decorated open case back. It has an impressive power reserve of around 80 hours which is as reliable and convenient as you could possibly get. The somewhat skeletonised rotor, recharges the mainspring but the manual wind crown is another helpful addition, no mentioning the fact that it is buttery smooth when wound.
One of the factors that drew me to this watch was the sheer amount of history associated with it; Hamilton produced one of its first watches in the latter stages of the 19th Century and was acquired by the Swatch group in the 1960's. The Khaki Field was distributed among the US Army and became the official watch supplied for soldiers. As a field watch, there can be no better sense of validation than for a watch to be used for its intended purpose for the masses, but also for such a brutal and gritty piece of work. The durability and solidness of the construction makes it a perfect beater watch as well as a great every day piece (which is more what I use it as) that can be worn with endless styles of clothing, as well as being exceptionally versatile in its strap variations, thanks to the convenient lug width and structure. Another thing which I personally like is its subtleness; it is such a significant piece of watch history with astonishing quality and unless you know what it is, it just seems like a regular, perhaps boring watch. I guess you could compare it to a 600 horsepower V8 estate with very minimal badges all round which on the surface may look quite standard but unless you know what it holds within, you will not know. But that is what appeals to me most.
The Khaki Field is one of the most respected and sought-after watches in the entire watch community; the heritage, movement and build quality are second to none in its price bracket. I had to get my hands on one of these and I could not be happier with the one I chose. If you are in the market for a respectable, reliable and versatile watch and don't want to spend huge money, look no further!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!