The $1,000 dive watch space is incredibly competitive. If you’re looking for a tough, everyday sports watch at this price point with a rotating timing bezel and some healthy water resistance, you have more options now than at any time in the recent past. Big brands, small brands, and brands that even those of us who are deepest into the watch world have never heard of are asking for your hard earned money, and want to sell you what, in a very real sense, is one of the simplest watches imaginable. The inexpensive dive watch is a “close your eyes and think of a watch” type watch for many people – it’s pure function. So it’s a little confounding that so many different types exist, each brand putting their own spin on the format, just slightly differentiating their watch from the competition. Hamilton is a brand that doesn’t scream “dive watch” to most enthusiasts, but they offer a line of divers under their Khaki umbrella that anyone looking for a value oriented diver in a conservative style should check out.
The latest version of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Automatic is a 43mm dive watch that’s about as simple and straightforward as these things get, and that’s a good thing. While there’s certainly a time and place for adventurous style and unusual design decisions, sometimes there’s value (and a need in a larger watch collection) for something incredibly rudimentary and straightforward. The last time Hamilton introduced a Khaki Navy Scuba it was quartz and 37mm, and had the same kind of basic, no nonsense design. With this release Hamilton has upped the case considerably and added the H-10 automatic movement, Hamilton’s 80 hour caliber with an anti-magnetic Nivachron balance spring.
The new Scuba comes in three basic flavors: a black dial variant on a rubber strap or bracelet, or a blue dial on a bracelet. Hands and hour markers are lume filled, and Hamilton’s dial layout here features trapezoids at the cardinal positions and circular plots elsewhere. A 24 hour scale runs around the inside of the hour markers, which is a somewhat unusual feature on a dive watch while being integral to the Hamilton Khaki design language. It certainly adds some extra utility if you occasionally need an at a glance reading of the military time.
The 43mm stainless steel case has a burly and muscular look to it, with prominent crowd guards and widely spaced lugs. While the diameter is large by nearly any standard, the reported thickness is just 12.58mm, which is not outrageous by any means for a diver with 300 meters of water resistance. This could be a great example of a watch that has sizing specs that might not match the real world wearing experience.
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba has a certain charm to it that comes from how understated it is, and I think that might be appealing to some dive watch shoppers who are after something simple and unfussy, maybe exclusively for hard wearing over the summer. There’s also a lot of value here – the watch retails for $995 in all three variants, and uses a modern movement with a lengthy power reserve, has a nice Oyster style bracelet, and a ceramic bezel in a color matching the dial. This watch has appearling specs, and if the size is right for your wrist, it could be a compelling budget diver option. Hamilton