Hamilton is marking the tenth year of their partnership with Air Zermatt, Switzerland’s famed air rescue operation, with a new limited edition chronograph that can be viewed as both a legitimate hardcore flight instrument, and a proper tribute piece. Air Zermatt has been around since the late 1960s, and has pioneered medical rescue by helicopter, which is a serious business in the Swiss Alps. While you likely don’t want to see them for yourself in any real world scenarios (because if you do, something has gone horribly wrong), Air Zermatt’s red helicopters have become iconic in their own right, and serve as inspiration for this new version of the Khaki Aviation Converter Auto Chrono.
At its core, the Khaki Aviation Converter is a serious tool watch, and employs a slide rule bezel, similar to what you’ll find on Breitling’s Navitimer, that is a bit intimidating at first, but uses principles of basic arithmetic to calculate things like airspeed, distance traveled, fuel consumption, and total flight time. These calculations will be of little use to most, unless you happen to be a pilot, or math, for you, is a hobby, and not something you struggled through in your high school years. That said, you can use these bezels for common, everyday math problems, like calculating the tip on a restaurant bill. Let’s be honest, though. For most people, wearing a watch like this is less about functionality, and more about the way it makes you feel, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There can be great satisfaction in knowing your watch is capable of doing certain things, even if you’ll never call on it to do those things (as I write this I’m wearing a dive watch that’s good down to 500 meters, so I might be Exhibit A).
Looking beyond the slide rule bezel, what we have here is a three register chronograph powered by Hamilton’s H-21-Si caliber, a modern automatic chrono movement with a 60 hour power reserve and a silicon balance spring. The hour and minute totalizers at 6:00 and 12:00 respectively have been given a bright blue treatment in the same shade as Air Zermatt’s logo. Because the running seconds register has been left in black, it gives this watch the appearance of a two register chrono at a glance, and the 12 and 6 orientation makes for a nicely balanced dial, even with the day and date indicator at 3:00. The dial is suitably busy, which is what you’d expect for an aviation inspired tool watch, but it’s not unruly at all, and appears to be fairly legible.
This watch is a bit of a bruiser, but that’s to be expected given that it exists firmly within the world of modern pilot’s watches. The stainless steel case measures 44mm in diameter and 14.6mm thick, and the lug width is 22mm. Those lugs appear to be on the long and thin side, as well, so you can expect this one to wear every milimeter’s worth of that diameter measurement. Of course, this is not exactly a mass market item, and only needs to find a niche of collectors who feel connected to Air Zermatt in some way. A total of 988 pieces will be produced, which is the same number of Air Zermatt missions that have been dispatched to the Matterhorn as of January of this year, a subtle reminder of the important and dangerous work that the Air Zermatt company takes on. The retail price on this limited edition Khaki Aviation Converter is set at $2,395. Hamilton