Hamilton Basel 2016 Preview

Following up our coverage of Rado’s Basel preview the other week, we got the chance to check out a small amount of what Hamilton will be bringing to the party come late March. A staple brand here at w&w, Hamilton tends to drop a few gems per year, while continuing to bolster and evolve their core lines. At the preview we saw many things including an entirely new line from the brand, which is very uncommon for them, some nice new pieces for their Khaki military-inspired lines, a bold new diver and a ladies watch that might end up popular with guys too. Across all of them, there was one more change, and that was to their branding. Hamilton has brought back their H logo from the 60’s, a move I think no Hamilton fan will complain about. Let’s check ’em out.


One of the first watches that caught our attention was a new chronograph addition to the Khaki Field line. Taking the styling of their more recent fields, which have well balanced dials with slightly emphasized 12, 3, 6 and 9 numerals, nice texturing and vintage coloring, the 42mm chronograph precisely integrates the expected sub-dials at 12 and 9 as well as a day/date at 3. It’s a very balanced design, foregoing active seconds entirely, as it’s powered by the 60hr H-21 (7750 base) automatic chronograph.


There are two colorways planned, one classic in steel, with aged-tritium colored lume, and one in black. The latter was particularly striking, as it was a a very legible “phantom” design, and visually seemed a bit more trim. The dial smartly uses dark gray for markers and lume, in lieue of black, giving more than enough contrast for at a glance legibility. They also played with the finishing on the case a bit, leaving the bezel polished while the mid-case was brushed. The polished black was very sleek. Coming in at $1,695 in steel and $1,765 in PVD, these are well priced for new Swiss-made chronos.


Return of the Frogman

Periodically, Hamilton will bring back a design inspired by the iconic crown locking mechanism of their 1940’s Frogman watches, that were worn by Navy Seals, and featured in the 1951 film “Frogmen” which was Hamilton’s first time on the silver screen. The oversized “canteen” crowns feature screwdown caps that protect them from shock and accidental release. The caps are then held on by a chain or armature. For 2016, they’ve modernized the concept and integrated into a series of titanium dive watches that step up their dive game a bit.


Coming in at 46mm with 1000m WR and a HEV, or 42mm with 300m w/o HEV, the Khaki Navy Frogmen both have bold and aggressive designs, but pleasantly light weights thanks to the titanium cases. Their bezel are striking, coming in a range of colors, with wide deep teeth for grip. The dials shout diver with large lumed markings, a numeral 12 and hands you can see from a mile away.

Of course, the most intriguing part is the crown, which speaks to the Frogman concept, but is integrated into the case with a more modern approach. The crown cap, which is large, but doesn’t stick out too far, is held in place by a hinged armature with a very strong build, that doubly acts as a guard. It’s well done, as a system like that can easily be too bold, taking away from the design as a whole. Here, it fits right in.

Pierre Frolla presents the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman (3)_mid_14236

This is a big release for Hamilton, as they haven’t had many dive releases in the last few years. As such, they teamed up with a fitting ambassador for the job, Pierre Frolla, who is a 3x world record holding free diver. Both of the Frogman styles are powered by the H-10 automatic movements (base 2824) which gives them a very healthy 80-hr power reserve. The 46mm model will be around $1,400, while the 42mm comes in closer to $1,000, though expect some variation depending on strap or bracelet choice. The 46, which is pictured, features a red bezel and black dial, while the 42 will come in black or blue.

Broadway Boogie Woogie

Hamilton has stuck with their handful of core lines for quite some time now, so the addition of a whole new line was a bit surprising. Dubbed the Broadway series, the new line is inspired by the modern metropolis, riding the line between sport and dress for a contemporary business casual look. Some key design elements are hands are markers with architecturally-inspired forms, pin-striped dials, faceted case design with undercut bezel, and “Broadway” channel that runs through the dial and strap. As a urbanite and native New Yorker, I’m pretty weary of literal City inspired design elements, but nothing here felt too obvious in person.


The dials are clean, with a slight mid-century feel, though not one that competes with their Jazzmaster line. The hands are particularly attractive, with a shape that is unique to their concept. The cases are perhaps the best part though. The lugs have several facets, creating very attractive shifting surfaces, while under the bezel (and this was tough to photograph, so we apologize) is an “anthracite gray” ring, that breaks the watch up from the side in a cool way.

The first models that will come out are a 43mm automatic chrono with an external tachymeter bezel for about $1,800, a 42mm day/date automatic with 6 o’clock stacked windows (which I really like and you don’t see enough) for around $950, and a 40mm day/date quartz for about $550. It’s an interesting line and nice departure for the brand from their mainstays. I’m curious to see how they do with it, and what models they have planned for the next couple of year.


Something for the Ladies

that men will probably wear too

Lastly, among the limited but well conceived selection of new women’s watches, was a 36mm version of one of our favorite Hamiltons, the Khaki Navy Pioneer Automatic. For those who are unfamiliar, I gave the 40mm, sub-second version a rather raving review that I still stand by a few years ago. It’s a great interpretation of the Marine chronometer that is elevated by one of the better case designs I’ve seen from the brand.

Since then, they’ve released a huge chrono version as well as 43mm 3-handers and sub-seconds models in steel and gold… clearly, it’s a succefull model. So, to further capitalize on its popularity, they’ve now introduced a model geared towards women at 36mm… Well, while I hope that it does well with women, as it’s a great looking watch, I dare say that 36mm is a welcome unisex size. And I say this while wearing a 35mm Hamilton from the 60’s, so I feel confident in that.


Regardless of who it is for and who ends up wearing it, the new watch is a 3-hand automatic available with rose gold PVD or steel cases. As said, the case was a particular favorite of mine as it cleverly introduced a lot of complexity and texturing, while not being ornate. In 36mm, it had a nice compactness to it, a lot more detailing than you often find on modern, small watches. Further making it desirable, the watch is powered by the 80hr H-10 caliber… no switch to quartz, which often, and unfortunately, happens on ladies versions. I can’t quite recall the height of the watch, but I imagine it couldn’t be too thin with that movement. If Hamilton really wants me to go crazy, they’ll do a 36mm with a manual wound Peseux 7001 (think Stowa Antea), for a thin, small-seconds version… yeah, that would be awesome.


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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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