Hamilton Khaki Review
Okay, full disclosure. Before I even received this piece it had huge sentimental value to me. I was able to purchase this watch thanks to my Grandpa who left me some money when he passed away to buy myself a watch for my 21st birthday and therefore I’m not really in a position to give a subjective review in the way that I usually would but I hope that this article provides you with some useful information and some decent quality photos for your viewing pleasure!
The Hamilton name comes originally form a watch brand based out of the USA, possibly best known for their military issue watches during the second world war. In recent times however, the Hamilton brand has been bought by Swatch group and is described to be part of the “middle range” alongside other brands such as Tissot. Of course with Hamilton now being part of Swatch group you get the infamous “Swiss Made” claim, this time printed under the six o’clock marker.
Differing from my usual review structure, the movement powering the Khaki Field Auto will be discussed first because I feel that Hamilton made truly outstanding decisions with regards to the ETA 2824-2 movement chosen for this watch. It was a great choice right from the beginning, the 2824-2 is a respected automatic, manual wind workhorse with quickset date and usually very good accuracy readings. You may or may not know that ETA produces its movements at different grades, for example the 2824-2 comes in four different grades from their “standard” to their “chronometer” level. Hamilton decided against cost cutting with the standard movement and instead installed the superior “elaborated” grade of 2824-2 which gives me a lot of faith in Hamilton as a brand.
The movement is not only really accurate and reliable but also surprisingly thin which is something that I personally really enjoy in a watch and appreciate especially in the tool/field category which is overly saturated with overly big and heavy models. Despite being thin, when viewed through the display back, the 2824-2 seems remarkably three dimensional and very layered which gives the movement a more complicated look than it possibly is. Moving on to decoration, Hamilton add their own engraved rotor which is a nice touch but other than this there is no real decoration to the movement. Though some might be disappointed with this considering that cheaper watches often have more decoration I feel as though the utilitarian nature of the movement supports the tool watch aesthetic of the Khaki Field.
I cannot emphasise enough (as a bit of a movement geek) how well I think Hamilton did with all their movement decisions, my only slight reservation is the less than perfect manual winding action but really… at this price with all the other fantastic attributes, who cares?
So, the case and crystal. This piece is offered in both the 38mm and a 42mm size though the relatively long lugs make this watch wear slightly on the larger size so I opted for 38mm as I generally don’t like to go over 42mm and because I’m really enjoying modest sized watches at the moment. My 38mm Khaki Field wears superbly, it sits on the wrist really nicely and as previously mentioned is surprisingly thin which when combined with the relatively light weight feel of this piece makes it super wearable.
I was initially going to make a comparison to titanium but it retains the “solid block of metal” feel of a steel piece that you somehow don’t get with titanium which is a massive bonus for me. I opted for the braceleted model and immediately removed the bracelet like always so if you’re looking for a detailed review of the Hamilton bracelet then I’m afraid that you will have to look elsewhere.
What I can tell you however, is that the solid end links fit very snugly and feel nicely machined and secure. The finishing on the case is almost exclusively a high quality fine brushing with the exception of the bezel which is high polished, adding a dash of luxury to a case otherwise based upon the very ergonomic and purposeful case design. All of this is topped off, quite literally, with a subtly domed sapphire crystal which looks great but does seem to catch the light quite badly in photos.
The dial is the key area where this watch moves away from the truly utilitarian tool watch image, unlike the manual wind version of the Khaki Field the auto has a much more interesting dial which becomes clear upon further inspection.
Though initially you believe the dial to be the standard military/field dial with little interest, upon further examination you begin to notice the little details. Each track, the outer seconds track, the middle 12 hours track and the central 24 hour track has their own “step” or “layer” and are each their own shade of black or specific finishing.
This really elevates the watch from your more basic field watches and on occasion grabs the light in the most stunning of ways. All printing to my eye is immaculate and despite considering myself to be quite firmly against date windows, I really don’t mind the border around this one as it fits in well with the busy/technical dial.
The hands are the typical Hamilton Khaki shape, made of what I can only assume is stainless steel before the hour and minute hands are applied with lume while the seconds hand has a generous coating of red on the tip. I do enjoy the hands on this piece, they all reach their appropriate lengths in order to accurately read the time and the overall shape is elegantly sporty. The lume however isn’t great, I’m not sure what lume is used but does not last long in to the night when compared to my Orient Ray for example. On a watch at this price point you might expect more from the lume though it is important to remember that this isn’t a dive watch. The lume doesn’t detract from this watch for me but I think it is definitely an area for improvement.
I love this watch and I’d love it even if it were atrocious. But it definitely isn’t! It’s an amazing watch in almost every way and I genuinely think that it sits at a good price point on the market. The best way to explain how much I value this watch is probably to tell you this this watch strongly competes for wrist time against my Speedmaster Professional and that I find myself wearing this piece more than I ever intended to. If you’re looking for a military/field/utilitarian styled watch in this price bracket then I would 100% recommend you look at the Khaki Field Auto’s, either 38mm like mine or the 42mm version.