In the mid-60s, the US Department of Defense issued a specification for a general purpose watch. That spec—MIL-W-3818B—was awarded in 1964, and it would be the source for many future military-issued watches (even those working off later specifications). These watches were eventually produced by Benrus, Stocker, Westclox, Belforte, Timex, and perhaps most famously of all, Hamilton. They were designed to be cheap—sometimes even disposable—but above all else, they were meant to be rugged and reliable.
Many of these brands eventually went on to produce civilian versions. Benrus had the ref. 3061, for example, which was famously worn by Steve McQueen in the film Bullitt (the 3061 is highly collectible today, and it doesn’t often make an appearance on the secondhand market.) Hamilton, of course, went on to produce the Khaki line, which to this day remains an integral part of the brand’s catalog with countless iterations on this classic military design.
With the heritage craze showing no signs of slowing down, we couldn’t help but wonder when Hamilton would produce a watch as close to that original spec as possible. Well, it looks we finally have an answer. Currently only available from Hamilton’s boutique in Japan (more on this below), the new Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is a solid return to that iconic design.
The blasted stainless steel case measures 38mm, so it’s been up-sized from the original 34mm, but it’s to a size that I imagine most will be very happy with. 34mm is admittedly far too small for most people today, and 38mm seems to be a sweet spot for heritage reissues. Further specs include drilled lugs, a sapphire crystal, 5 atm of water resistance, and an oversized crown for easy winding.
The dial is pure throwback, with the most noticeable departure being the addition of branding below 12. Otherwise, the numerals, markers, and hands are near one-for-one reproductions, and the latter two are topped off with some vintage-toned lume. And I’m sure you’ve already noticed, but it’s worth pointing out that there’s no date window here. Staying true to the original, the power plant inside the watch is a manual-wind mechanical, likely a Hamilton-branded 2801.
The watch will come on a stylized green mil-strap with brown leather trim and a signed Hamilton buckle.
As I wrote above, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is currently only available in Japan, but fret not, you don’t have to hunt one down in the land of the rising sun. These will be available worldwide starting January 2018. Japanese retail is ¥ 57,240, which is roughly $515 as of this writing, so expect retail in the States to be somewhere around there.