Baselworld 2018 Teaser: Quick Hands-On with the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical

For military watch enthusiasts, there is often a simple choice to make: wear a vintage piece that seems undersized and flimsy by today’s standards, or choose a modern, “vintage-inspired” watch that is oversized and clunky. Thankfully, Hamilton have found the sweet spot in both size and feature set with their new Khaki Field Mechanical, set to debut in February.

Introducing the new Khaki Field Mechanical, the latest watch from Hamilton with a design pulled from the vault.

Originally offered exclusively in the brand’s Japanese boutique (and previewed by Ilya here), the Khaki Field Mechanical (herein referred to as “KFM”) is a hand-wound field watch inspired by the brand’s mil-spec pieces issued to U.S. military personnel from the 1960s through the 1980s. Those who are fans of these original military watches will recognize the features common to the new watch: a bead blasted stainless steel case, mechanical movement, and 50 meters of water resistance, although the KFM obviously features several upgrades, including a sapphire crystal, ETA 2801-2 17-jewel movement, oversized winding crown, drilled lugs, and Super-LumiNova in place of tritium.

The watch was reasonably upsized for 2018, and it retains much of the charm of the original.

The KFM’s dial is nearly a one-for-one recreation of the classic MIL-W-3818-spec field watch, with Arabic numerals and a smaller 24-hour scale beneath them, luminous darts for indices, “aged” lume on the minute and hour hands, and no date wheel. Unlike on the original mil-spec watches, the brand name is featured on the dial and the case size has been updated from 34mm to 38mm, but these are two features that are unlikely to bother the modern customer. Of course, the use of aged lume always sparks a good debate among enthusiasts, but these watches should really be seen in person before passing judgment—my personal feeling is that the lume complements the vintage look of the dial.

A black variant.
And a very cool, sun-faded brown variant for a more tropical look.

The watches will be available in two dial choices, one black (February release), and one a matte brown (May release) that takes on a slightly tropical, vintage hue. Both variants look great, and the black should fulfill the purist’s desire to see a NOS-looking dial, while the brown should speak to the vintage enthusiast’s appreciation for a watch that looks like it’s seen its fair share of combat in tropical climes. As for strap offerings, the black dial variant will ship on a khaki-colored NATO with dark brown leather keepers, and the brown dial will feature a sand-colored NATO with the same keepers.Though vintage mil-spec Hamiltons can still be found for a relative bargain, for the wearer who wants a modern, upgraded version of a classic that’s meant to be abused in the field (or the boardroom), the Khaki Field Mechanical presents a highly attractive option priced at a very reasonable $475. Sign me up for one of each! Hamilton

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Oren Hartov is the watches editor at Gear Patrol, a contributor to several other publications, and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. He is a reserve paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces and enjoys music, history, archaeology, militaria, scuba diving, languages and travel. He is of the opinion that Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam” may in fact be a better record than “Aja,” but he’s not positive.