Let’s face it. Watch complications are cool. Who among us doesn’t salivate at the sight of a flyback chronograph, a perpetual calendar, a cool looking moon phase, or any tourbillion? Then again, much of the time what we’re looking for is just a solid, basic, hand-wound mechanical watch to tell us the time. In this case, the new Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical fits the bill nicely, especially if you’re also a fan of the vintage/retro re-issue trend.
The new-for-2018 Khaki Field Mechanical is an almost exact copy of Hamilton’s military-issue watch developed in the late sixties for the US government’s GG-W-113 specification, but with some important differences. While the original 113 was a front loading (movement inserted and removed from the front of the case) 34mm with an acrylic crystal, the modern reinterpretation ups the size to a more contemporary, though still quite modest, 38mm and adds a sapphire crystal and screw down case back. Aside from that and the “Hamilton” and “Swiss Made” text on the dial, the new watch is a dead ringer for the original.
Being a re-creation of an original mil-spec piece means that dial legibility is excellent on the Khaki Mechanical. Said dial consists of white indices and text on a matte black background. Both 12 and 24-hour scales are provided, helping to solidify the military theme. Vintage-lumed triangles mark every five minute interval on the chapter ring, with bold white ticks marking the minutes/seconds. I know the vintage lume thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it works here. As previously mentioned, a slightly domed sapphire crystal stands guard over the dial.
The very basic bead blasted case measures 47mm lug-to-lug, with a big chunk of this length attributed to the long, slender lugs. The signed crown offers good purchase and connects to the silky smooth winding mechanism of an ETA 2801-2 movement. A 20mm lug width means strap swaps will be a breeze. Talking about straps, the Khaki Mechanical ships with an army green NATO with leather keepers, a narrow leather patch covering and reinforcing the pin buckle holes, and a leather covered tail tip. It’s a nice touch, and while it worked well for me, it was a bit too long and a bit too masculine for my wife’s tastes. This was easily solved with an aftermarket NATO strap.
So how was the Khaki Mechanical to live with on a daily basis? In a word, fantastic! Being used to larger watches, I must admit that I was skeptical of wearing something this small. However, the 47mm lug-to-lug measurement really makes an impact here, making the watch feel larger than it’s 38mm diameter would suggest. The great thing about this particular case design is that while it worked well on my 7.5″ wrist, it also worked great on my wife’s 6.25″ wrist, so it’s a fantastic piece that the two of you can easily share.
As for the 2801-2, I personally really enjoy the involvement that comes with a mechanical movement. I own a couple myself and look forward to my morning routine of giving each one a few turns to breath another day or two of life into them. It certainly makes for a more intimate and involving experience with your time pieces. With 46 hours of power reserve the ETA doesn’t quite last a full two days, so if you’ve got it in the regular rotation and don’t want to worry about having to reset the time you’ll need to give the crown a few spins each day.
Overall I very much enjoyed my time with the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. Aside from a dressy night on the town, it works for just about every occasion (at least for me). The case fits nicely on a large range of wrist sizes, and the excellent dial legibility means it’s easy to read the time in just about any light condition. Aside from the model I reviewed, the Khaki Field Mechanical is also available with a brown dial in a desert sand color scheme. At $475 retail, this one’s an excellent buy for the seasoned collector, or the newbie looking for his or her first mechanical. hamilton.com
- Brand & Model: Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
- Price: $475
- Who we think it might be for: Anyone looking for a solid, no-nonsense, easy-to-read mechanical watch.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? Yes I absolutely would, though I think I’d opt for the desert tan color scheme. My wife wife enjoyed it as well, so it would be an excellent piece for the two of us to share.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I generally prefer a brushed finish over bead blasted.
Technical Specifications from Hamilton
- Material: Stainless steel
- Size: 38mm, 48mm lug-to-lug
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Case Back: Solid, screw-down
- Water Resistance: 50m
- Inter-lug Width: 20mm
- MOVEMENT: ETA 2801-1, 17 Jewels
- Functions: Manual Wind, Time Only
- Beats Per Hour: 28,800
- Power Reserve: 46 Hours
- Material: Nylon & Leather
- Clasp: Pin Buckle