Anyone with some knowledge of the history of personal timepieces is aware that the Hamilton brand is over a century old and that it has been a company that has brought innovation and high quality products to the market since it’s inception. My grandfather owned a 992b 16 open face Hamilton that his father gave him in the 1920s. I’ll never forget the satisfaction on his face every time he pulled it out to let us all know it was time to get our chores done and head back to the house for supper. I think he loved that old timepiece as much as he did my grandmother.
Their Khaki line includes a wide variety of wrist watches that are diverse in both features and form. But at the mention of Khaki, one first thinks of the vintage look of the military style watches of the 1940s through the 1960s. Ask a collector to define a Khaki watch and the description will go like this: it has a black face with dual dial markings, large Arabic lumed numerals one through twelve and an inner ring of smaller numerals one through twenty-four, a small date window at three o’clock, large lumed hands with a second hand, a dark leather band, stainless steel case, screw-back, sapphire crystal and a sober, no-nonsense military look. And it’s that look that inspires us. We could buy an old watch to get that look, but who wants an old watch – reliability, these days, is everything. Also, both Citizen and Seiko market similar models, but the vintage-antique-mystic just ain’t there (but, in the interest of being thorough, we show some examples of them anyway – see below).
Strap on a brand new Khaki and you’ll instantly feel like you’re wearing your grandfathers watch.
For some time now, Hamilton, despite it’s American name (after James Hamilton) and it’s origination in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has been a Swiss manufacturer owned by The Swatch Group. Contemporary Hamilton watches use ETA movements, considered to be the workhorses of the industry and used in eighty percent of the watches produced in Switzerland.
Known as the Mechanical Officer the first watch has a dark green dial, canvas band, brush-look stainless case and screw-down back, sapphire crystal, and ETA 2804-2 movement, lumed markers and hands with second hand, date window, WR to 165 feet and is 38mm by 8mm. This model is hand wind and would be a good choice for someone who wants the brand name and the look but is on a budget.
A bit more upscale, the Field Auto, for a couple hundred dollars more offers the kind of features and quality that one only expects from the finest Swiss timepieces. At it’s heart is an ETA 2824 21-jewel movement, the darling of watch fans everywhere. Sporting a calfskin band with branded buckle, WR to over 300 feet, brushed stainless steel case, display rear crystal, signed fluted crown, sapphire crystal, black face, date window, lumed hour markers and three hands, this automatic watch looks the part – as genuinely vintage as a watch can get.
Here is an alternative to the Hamilton line that is cheap, looks the part and is designed to be a beater – I wear mine when ever I take the MTVR 7-ton troop carrier out for a spin.
There are those who would prefer the convenience of Eco-Drive Powered (battery charging by light), would enjoy a stopwatch function and a 24-hour subdial. Pictured is Citizens contribution to the retro military theme, available for about $135.
And never to be outdone, Seiko offers this model (around $100) in a Japanese automatic movement with day and date in a window, hardened mineral crystal, and an exhibition back.