1/2/2018 9 Comments
Today we are going to review ANOTHER new acquisition to my collection of affordable timepieces. It is the New Year and I hope all of my readers had a great holiday and can enjoy a fresh start to a wonderful new year. The piece being talked about today is one from an originally American brand turned Swiss brand over the years now owned by the Swatch group. It is none other than Hamilton, a brand that provides great quality for the price and gives watch enthusiasts a great value proposition as many of their watches are equipped with decent ETA and Valjoux swiss automatic movements. I would also like to pinpoint a timeline of some of Hamilton’s achievements in watchmaking and history which is listed below.
History Timeline of Hamilton Watch Company ( Courtesy of HamiltonWatch.com )
Foundation of Hamilton in Lancaster, Pennsylvania/US
The first series of pocket watches earned the title of "The watch of Railroad accuracy". During that period accidents were all too common due to the fact that various railroads worked with over 50 different "times" – so Hamilton set out to deliver accurate watches to the railroad community.
Hamilton gained the prestigious rank of supplier to the US Armed Forces.
In 1918 a Hamilton aeronautical watch accompanies the very first American airmail postal service between Washington and New York.
The introduction of the Piping Rock and Yankee watch confirmed the Hamilton leadership in American style.
During World War II, Hamilton stopped production of watches for consumers to concentrate on the huge task of providing the forces with a total of one million timepieces.
The Hamilton marine chronometers developed in the 1940s were the first to be created by modern manufacturing. Chronometers were vital naval equipment for calculating longitude and plotting location and direction and were used by the US Navy as an alternative to radio to find position. They represented vital military equipment, since radio time signals could be intercepted and falsified by the enemy.
During the course of the war Hamilton produced 10,902 marine chronometers that met the toughest demands for accuracy and reliability, as the only company with the capability to provide this support, managing to develop and produce these in a little over a year. The company’s efforts were rewarded in 1943 with a US Army-Navy “E” Award, presented for excellence in production of military equipment.
First movie appearance in the Oscar-nominated movie “The Frogmen”.
A true story, this film portrayed heroic US naval divers during World War II as they prepared safe landings for supplies and troops on hostile shores.
Hamilton introduces the world’s first electric watch: the VENTURA, revolutionary technology in a revolutionary design.
In 1961 Elvis Presley wore his Ventura in the film “Blue Hawaii”.
Hot on Presley’s footsteps was Stanley Kubrick who approached the American brand in 1966 to make unique timepieces for his new, futuristic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Hamilton design team provided him with a wristwatch and a desk clock that fit the bill perfectly.
The world’s first LED digital watch started measuring time - made by Hamilton.
Hamilton launches one of the first automatic chronographs: The PAN EUROP.
The Hamilton brand is sold to SSIH (the previous name of Swatch Group) on May 16, 1974
A revival in the 80s saw the reintroduction of classic Hamilton designs from the 1920s through to the 1960s. Old favourites like the Boulton, Ardmore, Wilshire and Ventura fuelled and led an industry-wide trend of classic watches.
The intensive Hamilton/Hollywood relationship continues with roles in movies such as Men in Black, Lethal Weapon 4, Independence Day, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Die Hard.
Transfer of the Hamilton production as well as of the headquarter from U.S. to Biel in Switzerland.
Hamilton joins leading aerobatic pilot Nicolas Ivanoff in the cockpit. Since then Hamilton is strongly involved in aerobatics and key airshows: Red Bull Air Races and Swiss Aerobatic Association. As an official Hamilton ambassador Nicolas Ivanoff is taking to the skies in a Hamilton-branded Edge 540.
Hamilton hosts the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards in Hollywood to highlight special behind-the-scenes artists for their individual impact on the film industry. Celebrities and film stars attending the red carpet event gladly give up the spotlight to cinematographers, prop masters, costume designers and screenwriters. The recognition of the off-screen talent is underlined with the presentation of the awards by the leading stars of the movie industry.
Hamilton is the official timekeeper of EAA AirVenture. For one week each summer, more than 500,000 EAA members and aviation enthusiasts from more than 60 countries come together at this event at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Hamilton has developed a new pilot watch, the Khaki Flight Timer, in close collaboration with Air Zermatt, the prestigious transport and rescue helicopter company. The watch integrates a dedicated pilots’ logbook to record details of up to 20 flights. Its launch marks the signing of an official partnership between the two aviation pioneers.
Cooperation with various squadrons in South Africa, Canada, Korea, Spain and in Russia also contribute to securing Hamilton’s status as the favorite watch of pilots.
Expanding its close involvement with the film industry, the brand decided to launch the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards in China, paying tribute to the Chinese off-screen talent who help make the medium so enjoyable.
Hamilton works with the production team of the movie Interstellar to design a unique watch for the character Murph (Mackenzie Foy and Jessica Chastain) and provides Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) with a Khaki Pilot Day Date.
Hamilton watches return to the big screen in Ridley Scott’s epic adventure, “The Martian”. The Khaki BeLOWZERO helps defining the strong character of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), when he is left behind on Mars.
Known for its innovative designs, Hamilton watches combine American spirit with Swiss precision. The brand’s rich heritage includes railroad, aviation and military roots, as well as strong American designs. A true pioneer, Hamilton has been a key player in the watch industry by introducing new technologies: the world’s first electric watch – the Ventura, in 1957 – and the world’s first LED digital watch – the Pulsar, in 1970. Today Hamilton owns its collection of Swiss Made personalized movements integrated in the watches.
Hamilton watches have appeared in more than 450 films, increasing the brand’s legitimacy in the movie industry. The brand also boasts a strong aviation heritage dating back to 1918 and continued today by the strong partnership as official timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
The case on the Hamilton Khaki Automatic is 38MM in diameter and 10MM thick. It is comprised of complete 316L stainless steel and for the most part is finely brushed besides the highly polished smooth bezel. It is a rather thin watch and one might not expect that prior to purchasing one but if your in the market for a smaller profile field watch this could be just for you. The lug width is 20MM and does suit the 38MM case well. I did take note of the fine brushing which really blew my mind on the case because it does resemble the finishing of a much more luxurious watch, it looks great and feels great as well. The crown is located at the 3 o clock position and is a rather large crown I must say but it definitely adds to the traditional field watch look Hamilton was going for when designing this watch I assume. Another nice touch is the signed "H" for Hamilton on the crown which is raised and polished. The grip on the crown is pretty good as it is larger so you should have no problem actually winding the watch manually and pulling and pushing it out to change the date and set the time. Now lets "move" on to the movement.
The movement featured inside of this timepiece is the caliber H-10 automatic. Let's forget the fancy name and get down to the basics. It is an ETA 3 handed date movement which has had some work done to it and now can hold a power reserve of an incredible 80 hours which is outstanding. There is one downfall to this longer power reserve as we do not get that normal 28,800 BPH but instead it is lowered to 21,600 BPH. I myself do not have a problem with the choppier sweeping seconds hand but some enthusiasts might only prefer the 28,800 BPH which is quite smooth as seen from the naked eye. This movement also features 24 jewels, hacking, hand-wind, and an accuracy of around +5 seconds a day when fully broken in. I do not think Hamilton actually regulates these watches in 5 positions but they are quite on point when comparing them to some other not so mainstream brands who throw ETA 2824 movements in their watches without regulation. For the most part I am happy with the accuracy of myne and the 80 hour power reserve which is excellent and definitely innovative as this didn't exist a few years ago for Hamilton. There are other brands such as Tissot who are competing with this new increased power reserve as well. Finishing on the movement is really non-existent besides the engraved logo and cut outs on the rotor.
The dial on the Khaki auto is a straight black dial with white Arabic numerals. The date cutout is located at 3 and is nicely done. The date is 100% visible through the window and looks fine in my opinion. The Hamilton logo is printed finely in white below the 12 position which is surrounded by the 24 hour numerals which go around the inner portion of the dial. We can use this to tell a second time zone or military time. This is very useful especially for a field watch in real life situations. There are two textures on the dial if you look very close..the outer portion has very small circular lines which go around and the inner portion is a straight black. The farthest out portion of the dial is covered in 60 minutes markings and is very finely printed and looks superb. I have found the dial to be quite close to the genuine Sapphire crystal with AR coating and this does help in a way to read the time as it literally jumps at your eyes when you glance at the watch to read the time. All of the arabic numerals as well as the hands and small pips above each numeral are filled with lume which is decent but not something as strong as say Seiko lumibrite. ( See Video for Lumeshot Below ) If there is one thing I would change it would be to add another layer of Anti-Reflective coating to the crystal as it does give off some glare in conditions where a generous ammount of light is involved. Although this glare problem is obvious I can still read the time.
The long Plonguer hands this watch uses look very good with the overall aesthetic of the field watch theme. They do reach out pretty far and that is something I am fond of. I do not like when watch companies use really short hands on a watch , it really turns me off. The minutes hand literally reaches into the 60 minute markings near the chapter ring which makes it very easy to read and set the exact time. These hands are filled with lume and the lume does shine brighter on the hands than the numerals.
The bracelet used on this piece is a comfortable one. It has pins instead of screws which is a love/hate type of thing but I honestly have no problem. The bracelet is comprised of 316L stainless steel and is solid. It features a two button mechanism and a milled clasp which is super secure and I don't see the need for an extra safety tab. It has a super clean look when closed and looks sharp with the Hamilton branding. The brushing on the bracelet is good but not as good as the actual watch case itself. It does mesh well with the case and one can not really tell the difference. ( I am just super picky ). Solid end links are also provided on this 20MM bracelet which is a good look for hamilton. One thing you may notice is that each link has two inner links instead of one....this does leave a line going down each side of the bracelet but some other bloggers have said this is to add a more vintage aesthetic to the watch. I have found that this design does help the bracelet fit nicer and conform nicer on the wrist which is a plus.
We do get a genuine Sapphire crystal which is slightly domed if you look really closely. The crystal does have one layer of Anti-Reflective coating for a better view in the sunlight or high light conditions but in all honesty this watch really needed 2-3 layers or a thicker coating.
( See Video )
We do get a sapphire exhibition caseback for a nice glimpse of the Hamilton H-10 caliber. The caseback is also screwed down for that 100M of water resistance which is marked on the caseback as well. This was another big reason for me picking the automatic model over the larger manual model. I am one who likes to get my watches wet and this model allows me to with no worries. The movement is rather boring to look at but we do get a nice glimpse of the movement and it looks okay for this price point. If this was a $5000 watch I would be dissapointed.
In conclusion, I think all around this is a win. We do get a nice Swiss Made watch with a Swiss ETA custom modded movement by Hamilton with 80 hours of power reserve. The finishing is superb and as is the construction of the overall watch. I am really surprised by this one and I should of picked one up way before this year! The bracelet is not super luxurious but it gets the job done with comfort. I would of loved if hamilton used screws instead of pins though. Furthermore, for around $400 USD ( Link Below for Best Price where I bought it ) I dont think you can really find a better field watch. There are other companies such as Victorinox who produce field watches with ETA movements who are competitors I shall say but for some reason this watch just really speaks to me. It is slim, slender, lightweight and well built. I cannot ask for more and I think I got a great watch for the money, so I do highly recommend this watch if you are in the market for a reliable swiss made automatic timepiece with a field aesthetic. Thanks for reading and check out the detailed pictures and video review below.