While most eyes are turned towards Geneva right now for SIHH, here in NYC the second year of a new tradition just occurred; the Hamilton line preview. Admittedly, the showing is smaller in stature, but it is no less exciting for yours truly to get to preview some watches that most wont see for a couple of months in Basel. As per usual, the line consists of various updates, some new colors, textures, etc… as well as a few new designs. I wont go over everything I saw, but rather cherry picked a few that really stood out for me.
First up is the Takeoff Automatic. You might remember my review from a few months ago of the crazy and cool Takeoff Chronograph, a limited edition revealed by the brand last year. In my review I commented that as much as I liked the watch, there were elements from it, namely the bezel mechanism and modern aesthetic that I would love to see trickle down into a more obtainable line. Turns out, Hamilton was ahead of me, developing this new and awesome watch.
Coming in at 42mm, this sleek, stealthy PVD has the same sharp angles of it’s brother, with a smaller and far more wearable size. The massive, but amazing bezel, takes up a lot of the space making it wear a bit smaller too. And seriously, the bezel on this is up there as one of the best feeling on the market. It’s a bi-directional friction bezel that is internal, but turns with an external grip…it’s smooth and silky with a pleasant amount of resistance, adding control. Inside is Hamilton’s H-10 80-hr automatic, which is a modified ETA 2824-2. Coming in at $1,195 MSRP, I think this watch, and the series it is hopefully beginning, are poised to be very popular.
Next, we have a the Khaki Navy Pioneer Chronograph. Extending the line of the Khaki Navy Pioneer Auto (this watch needs a nickname) that I reviewed about a year ago, this chronograph is a logical next step. Actually, it’s one a few new models in the series. There is also a 3-hand auto and a gold PVD with sub-seconds, both with new 43mm cases, but the chrono is where it’s at. Why?… Just look at it! If ever there was a watch that worked well as a chronograph, this might be it. And I’m very happy to see that Hamilton made good design decisions through out.
Firstly, yes the case has grown to 43mm, but Marine chronometer watches are typicall this size, and proportionally, it made a lot of sense. Next, they used their H-21, a 60-hr 7750, movement, but left off the active seconds. This gives you a regulateur-esque dial with nice symmetry. They also added 1/4 second marks on the outer index for use when timing, which looks good and adds functionality. The date at 3, the one caveat of the original design, also feels more at home on the larger dial. The one thing I could do with out is the severely abbreviated 12, that looks as though the sub-dial destroyed… perhaps a dot would have sufficed. This one will go for $1,895 MSRP, which is inline with their other automatic chronographs.
The last one I’ll cover today really took me by surprise; the Khaki Pilot Worldtimer. First off, it’s quartz. Not to degrade it, but that typically wouldn’t grab my attention as much as a mechanical… then I was shown how it worked and I was very impressed. It’s really two watches in one, a worldtimer and a chronograph, which one switches between with the “mode” button at 10. The mode is then indicated by an analog display at 2. When in worldtimer mode, it’s amazing clear and practical. You have your home time on the main hour and minute, and then your second time displayed via the 24-hr sub-dial at 10, that conveniently also displays am/pm. The yellow-arrow tipped central hand points to the city that is in the other time zone. To change that city, simply push the pushers and it will jump forward or backwards, depending on the button. Easy to read, and easy to use… not something one can always say for worldtimers.
To go to the chrono, simply push and hold the mode button for three seconds, and the worldtimer hands re-position. It works like any other chrono, starting/stopping by pressing the 2 o’clock pusher, resetting with the one at 4, but there is one detail that really won me over… It has a central minute counter for the chronograph! As a die-hard Lemania 5100 fan (I’ve owned 3, though I am down to 2) I am always excited to see this rare but great feature. Central minute hands are much more practical, easier to read and use since they are on a 60-minute scale. There is no hour sub-dial however, instead the 24-hr hand becomes a 120-minute counter. That’s a bit odd, but still useable for most day-to-day timing needs. Lastly, though the hands swept back on reset, they did so lightening fast, much faster than most quartz chronos.
So it does a lot of things and does them seemingly well… and there is one more functional feature; it has a perpetual calendar. So, it knows the days of the months, when leap year is, etc. for a long time. As for the watch itself, it’s a technical looking pilot with less style than other things, but a certain almost 80’s flair I dug. The big steel bezel was bi-directional, but with a a 60-click mechanism that felt wonderful and lined up perfectly. It’s a big watch too at 44mm, but with so much going on, it wore a bit smaller. For someone who is looking for all that functionality in one package, and isn’t trying to spend 50k on a haute piece, this is a very interesting option. That said, the price is a bit higher than expected, starting at $1,245 on a rubber strap, but it does seem to be a very unique quartz movement.
And there you have but three of Hamilton’s new 2015 offerings. There were plenty of other beauties there too, from a clean and simple olive drab dialed field watch, to elegant variants on the Jazzmasters and a new and exotic Ventura. We’ll be sure to take a look at more after Basel and hopefully get a few of these in for review.