Confessions of a rebellious WIS - Review of the Hamiton Khaki Field Automatic
Confessions of a rebellious WIS - A review of the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic
I’ve always had a fascination with watches, though it’s only within the past few years that the disease has caught hold with any serious consequences to my wallet. During that time I’ve posted regularly on several general watch fora, learned much and naturally spent much more than I ever intended. My preference is for automatics, though I have had the gamut from cheap Casio digitals (most ‘bang for buck’ ever?) to G-Shocks to classic Seiko divers to a Rolex Submariner ND bought as a wedding present too long ago to contemplate and which I gave away to my brother after my divorce (!) In those days, it was ‘just a watch’ that ticked away (without a service) as my only watch for about 15 years and I became sick of the sight of it. Anyway, I thought I’d make my introductory post a semi-review and hope I don’t bore the pants off everyone….
The Big Questions
I used to think that since there’s so much variety available today, the weird and whacky world of watches would hold my fascination for a long time. And it has done, ever since I was old enough to get my gooey fingers round my father’s old Omega (which I was gratified to learn, did not contribute to his early demise). However, during a recent archaeological dig through my watch box I wasn’t surprised to find so many mummified corpses. It seems that in the past few years I’ve accumulated rather more watches than I thought. According to the general symptoms of this madness, where prices paid for a watch grow steadily from a few pounds to thinking about having to sell sundry body parts, and hoping the missus doesn’t notice either the missing appendage (doubtful) or the new watch (divorce), the inevitable questions begin to loom large, especially after a few glasses of a favourite alcoholic beverage.
The topic occasionally crops up on watch fora - after owning lots and looking at what must be millions of watches (well, thousands, anyway), I asked myself the questions that most WIS ask themselves after nothing has stirred their loins for months. Where am I going with all this? When am I going to wear this one? or that one? Will I ever wear this one again? Many times I’ve endured the suffering of a disturbing bout of common sense (aka softening of the brain) and had to lay down in a darkened room for an hour, where I hallucinate about selling the whole lot and wearing just one watch till one or the other of us falls to pieces with old age. Now, I have to say that this idea appeals to me, and goes along with the equally appealing idea that a watch with some personal history attached to it becomes more than just a watch. It becomes a part of who you are.
So yes! Why not? Apart from one or two pieces I’d never part with (my Dracula watches - forever entombed in their boxes and only coming out after dark, if ever - sad, but true), why not dump all the quartz tat along with the rest of the wannabees and get one great watch that you’ll wear with pride, I asked myself. Get that one watch and never look back. When you get the urge to buy something else, you can look at your wrist and ask yourself if you really want to consign it to oblivion in favour of something else. The answer will likely be NO! (This scenario does have a curiously spooky parallel with those other creatures of the night - women, but, of course as we all know, the answer would be different. Still, that’s another story for a another forum...)
If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise - Robert Fritz
The older I get the more I seem to be losing favour with watches that I would have sold my kids for two or three years ago. This time however, I had to have something that’s truly versatile, something rugged but not heavy, uncomplicated but good to look at, not exactly a tool but with just as much cool. Not too much of a tall order, you’d think, but initial nosings around the web and local ADs were disappointing to say the least. Some really nice pieces but nothing jumped off the screen or out of the window, grabbed me by the throat and demanded money with menaces. I wondered if I was getting a little jaded. After gawking at so many watches, everything begins to look curiously the same.
For long term contentment a thing has to resonate with core values and ideals. Many vintage pieces have exactly what I was looking for, mainly bling-free, simple classic designs and smallish cases, which I prefer. Most modern or fashionable things have their own appeal but are often over-hyped, over-complicated, over-designed, over-priced and/or over-size. Oh, that I could go back in time fifty years and press my nose against some jeweller’s window and gaze at all those loverly watches (much as I do now, in fact, but in a different era and with less disappointment).
In the main, vintage watches didn’t draw attention to their owner. They were honest, straightforward and unself-conscious, designed to tell the time with a minimum of fuss. Arguably, the best part of watch buying is the deliberating, pondering and brooding, spending countless hours poring over watch .... (especially as it has the added bonus of giving the brain something constructive to think about in ‘meetings’ at work). It certainly seemed to me that vintage was the way to go. Still, I wasn’t completely sure. Lack of durability and servicing/running costs are the biggest issues – and waiting for the right piece to come along. I’m the kind of guy who has to have things yesterday. I’ve never had the patience to learn to be patient. Besides, there are still a few sensible options for guy like me.
The Bare Necessities (not in any order)
Price not necessarily a consideration, but I don’t want to go crying to my bank manager if the worst should happen. Nor do I want to spend so much that I’m babying the **** thing – hate that.
No bigger than 38mm case
Classic design, preferably with a vintage feel.
Fit, form and function with no BS.
Less is definitely more.
Quality/durability of construction. Fitness for purpose.
If possible, sapphire crystal is the way to go for a worry free life.
Stainless steel case.
At least 50m WR.
Versatile – got to look good with jeans or a suit.
Brand history/heritage a definite plus.
Hamilton - The Definitive Choice
The Khaki Field Automatic, the latest in a long line of military watches from Hamilton (or ‘military style’ if you’re a purist) and shares its roots with those produced during WWII and later, and the British issued 6B, 6BB and GS (General Service, i.e. non-military) watches. (The fact that Hamilton ultimately became a Swatch Group brand is neither here nor there to me.*). The current incarnation is the one that kept drawing me back time and again and fulfilled all of my criteria, including the case dimensions - 38mm excluding the crown. Knowing they’re on to a good thing, Hamilton also make a 42mm version.
Very highly regarded and ubiquitous ETA 2824-2.
Beautifully contoured and flawlessly finished case in brushed satin stainless steel with a plain polished steel bezel (nice touch)
A proper, decent sized, fat, chunky crown - and signed. (I don’t care who makes them - watches with puny crowns should all be consigned to the furnaces of Hades and melted down to make crowns for the Khaki Field).
Numerals are nicely proportioned, neither too big or too small. There is no serif on the ‘1’ and no hook on the ‘7’ giving the dial a cleaner look, in my opinion. I just prefer them this way.
Hands are very much in keeping with the vintage heritage of the Khaki and the pointer for the minute hand reaches into the minute track as it should.
Nicely designed second hand with a good long tail and a dark red tip that adds a very eye-catching spot of colour to an otherwise monochrome dial. Lifts the whole look of the watch.
The numerals and hands are lumed (Superluminova C1?) and in daylight are brilliant white, as opposed to the pale yellow/green of Superluminova C3. Lume is good on the hands, readable well into the night without prior exposure to a bright light source.
Black dial. Not just any black, mind you. Not really dark grey masquerading as black. This one is as black as a black hole, and flawlessly printed, providing an excellent contrast with the pure white numerals, indices and hands.
The date window in the 38mm case is in the correct position relative to the dial. In the larger version of necessity the date window is pulled further towards the centre.
The numerals are printed on a part of the dial etched with very fine grooves (like a gramophone record if you’re old enough to remember them. If not, ask your dad). This diffuses the light and makes the dial easy to read in any position as the uncoated sapphire crystal would normally be too reflective. The grooves are so fine they aren’t always visible, but I think they add a nice contrasting texture to an otherwise plain dial.
Slightly domed sapphire crystal should eliminate scratches. Something less to worry about. Also helps minimise reflections. There has never been a circumstance when I haven’t been able to read the time. The dial is always readable even in bright light which is perpendicular to the dial.
100m WR so no worries about getting it wet.
Highest quality leather used for the strap.
Lume on the numerals is not as strong as on the hands
Dial could be considered to be cluttered. Could live without the 24 hour markers and don’t understand why they’re obligatory on military watches these days. Small enough not to be intrusive.
Could live without the display back. Nice ‘Hamilton’ engraved rotor, though
No coating on the sapphire crystal, especially on the underside. Could be argued that there’s none to wear off either, and also alleviated by design factors above
Minute hand lags behind the hour hand by about 2 minutes. I can live with this. Many watches have this fault for some reason (manufacturing processes, no doubt).
The watch I received has Incabloc shock protection, identified by its unique lyre-shaped spring on the balance wheel. According to ETA’s own charts (don’t know how old these are – though they were posted recently on a watch forum but I can’t find them on ETA’s web site), only the Top and Chronometer grades of the 2824-2 have Incabloc whereas the Standard and Elabore grades have ETA’s own Etachocs. They also have different mainsprings and hairsprings – Nivaflex NO + Nivarox 2 for the Standard and Elabore and Nivaflex NM + Anachron for the Top and Chronometer grades. However, I have read reports that Standard 2824’s are also produced with Incabloc, so it’s difficult to know for certain what movement grade Hamilton have used for the Khaki Field. Erring on the side of caution, I suspect it’s Standard.
The reason I’m boring you with all this is that the accuracy would suggest the Top grade. Over the six weeks I’ve owned it the daily rate has been either zero or +1s in 24 hours on the wrist. As I don’t wear a watch in bed, this includes around 8 hours crown up at night (+/-0s). If I leave the watch crown up for 12 hours the movement will lose 0-1s and 1-2s in 24 hours. All other resting positions result in a gain of 1-2s over 8 hours. In other words, with a bit of judicious ‘resting’ this movement can be made to run as accurately as quartz. Of course, it’s still early days and we’ll see how it goes over the coming months. Nevertheless, this is mightily impressive timekeeping for any movement let alone for a watch powered by the ‘Standard’ grade 2824-2.
Note: the above results were after letting the watch settle down for a week during which the mainspring was left to unwind completely from fully wound (ie worn for a continuous 16 hours) a couple of times. I always do this with new autos. I don’t know why. I think I read somewhere that it’s a good idea. It could make no difference at all – it might be just psychological - but it certainly seems to work.
A word or three about the strap...
Not too keen on bracelets. I find the watch slips round my wrist too much. Besides, I’m a leather lover (for watch straps I mean – come on guys) so I ordered the watch with the brown leather strap which comes with a signed, chunky, brushed steel buckle. I have to say that the quality of the leather is perhaps the most gorgeous of all the leather straps I’ve owned – and I have a few… In fact, I felt that the strap was much too nice to be beaten up by daily wear, so I searched around for another, and, idiot that I am, spent a small fortune. Sadly, not one of them added to the overall look and comfort of the watch in the way that the original leather does.
Nubuck lined with remborde construction, the leather is thick and fine grained in a rich, deep brown with shades of mahogany and walnut. It’s no surprise that a replacement original strap is so expensive, but definitely worth the money. I’d have to insist on replacing the strap when the time comes with an identical Hamilton strap. Luckily, I came across a nearly new one on the bay of fleas for just over half retail price and couldn’t get my credit card out quick enough. Happy to report that the spare, which I’m using, is just as good as the original. Much kudos to Hamilton here for the quality of materials and workmanship when it would have been so easy to save a few dollars on the price of the watch with a merely ‘adequate’ strap. Incidentally, the stitching appears white in photos but is actually a natural, neutral ivory colour.
*I’ve heard it said that since becoming part of the Swatch Group, Hamilton have lost the link with their past, that being just another brand falling within certain price limits in a larger conglomerate means a lack of the individual identity it once enjoyed. Looking at the current line-up and the quality thereof (including the American Classics), I don’t think I can agree with this. No doubt the dispute will continue, but my impression is that Hamilton produce watches that are just as good now (if not better), and in a broader range of products, as they ever were. If that isn’t being true to their heritage, I don’t know what is. To my mind, a few of the current pieces are certainly way too blingy, over-designed and underwhelming, but then I’m just an old fart. People no doubt said the same when the iconic Ventura was launched.
It's not so much that your planning is to be the best. Your planning is to make wonderful things. And if you make wonderful things in our society, normally they recognise it. - Nicolas G Hayek (Chairman and Delegate of the Board of Directors of the Swatch Group)
Notwithstanding the sweat and toil that went into the choice of the Hamilton, and the fact that I’m still in the ‘honeymoon’ period, my overall impression is that this watch will take some beating, in both senses of the word. Build quality is outstanding, let down only by the slight hand mis-alignment. Still, the fantastic accuracy and the fact that it looks classy and well made and feels great on my wrist more than compensates. Something to be aware of is that it wears slightly smaller than 38mm (more like 36mm) due to the case thickness and smaller dial width. For me, this is a definite plus. The 42mm version, by the same logic, would wear around 40mm.
The Khaki Field (all versions) is the definitive watch in the Khaki line-up and you mess with the fundamental design too much at your certain peril. However, to my mind, Hamilton have done a brilliant job here, keeping the vintage look but adding a few deft touches that freshen up the design. Not an easy thing to accomplish (24hr markers notwithstanding) and there’s no doubt that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. For my money this watch is just about impossible to beat on many levels. It has everything to be expected in terms of versatility, classic styling, the use of highest quality materials and a specification and performance that puts much higher priced watches using the same movement (or any movement) to shame.
If you’re not prepared to pay a considerable premium for a brand but instead prefer to spend your hard earned cash on style and quality alone, the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic should definitely be at the top of your list of ‘Probables’ to seriously consider, especially if you’re looking for that ‘do everything’ one watch.
Review of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph
By: John B. Holbrook, II
The Hamilton watch brand has a special place in my heart as one of the few watch companies (and one of the most well known) that started in the United States. The Hamilton Watch Company was founded in Lancaster, PA in 1892. Their first watch, produced by Hamilton co-founder H.J. Cain made its debut in 1893. Initial fame for Hamilton watches arrived when the railroad industry looked to Hamilton to help put an end to the frequent crashes of their locomotives. Hamilton again earned a place in U.S. history as Hamilton was named the official timepiece supplier to the Armed Forces by the U.S. Government. Some 20 years later in 1930, Hamilton captured a place in U.S. aviation history by being named official watch of TWA, Northwest, United, and Eastern airlines. Clearly Hamilton watches are incorporated as an important part of American history. Even though Hamilton was purchased and is currently owned by the Swiss Swatch Group, Hamilton still creates brand identity by aligning their watches with important symbols of American culture — like Jazz.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph (reference number H32646555) is part of Hamilton’s American Classic line of watches. Upon first examining the time-piece, the aesthetic appeal of the watch is very strong. The shimmering champagne-colored dial complements the rose gold markers and hands. The mix of polished Arabic numerals and applied markers which encircle the dial provide both excellent legibility and symmetry. Additionally, the hour and minute hands have a luminescent coating applied for enhanced low-light visibility. A small second hand register is located at 6 o’clock, with a date display located between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock markers. The dial is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The 42mm stainless steel case has 10 microns of rose gold plating applied, with a mix of both polished and brushed finishes applied throughout. The gold plating gives the watch a very dressy, and warm appearance on the wrist. The chronograph pushers have a very pleasing, unique shape and I found them to be a joy to use. The case is rated for an impressive 100 meters of water resistance. Between the large, 22mm case lugs is a gorgeous leather strap with faux alligator grain, in rich medium brown featuring decorative tan stitching. The strap also features an impressive case-matching deployant — an impressive upgrade over the standard tang and buckle found on other timepieces at this price point.
The Jazzmaster Chronograph is powered by the Valjoux 7753, which is a variant of the classic Valjoux 7750 movement. The Valjoux 7753 is essentially the same movement as the more well known 7750, except the 7753 has the chronograph registers located at three, six, and nine o’clock. The movement (produced by ETA, a sister company to Hamilton which is also owned by The Swatch Group) appears to have very little fine finishing applied, outside the Hamilton logo engraving on the rotor. Given the price point of this timepiece, I wouldn’t expect to find luxury level finishing applied. The 7753 is a 27- jewel, self-winding chronograph movement and is considered somewhat “low tech” as far as mechanical chronographs go, but legendary for its stable and robust performance. The Valjoux 7753 is an excellent choice in the appealing yet unpretentious Jazzmaster Chronograph. The Valjoux 7753 has a vibration speed of 28,800 BPH, making it a “high-beat” movement, which strongly contributes to its stable, accurate performance.
I can find no aspect of the Jazzmaster Chronograph that does not impress me. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen such a fine mechanical wristwatch which delivered such exceptional quality at such a modest price point — perhaps since I last reviewed an example from Hamilton. The suggested retail price for the Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph is $1,695. While some will not look kindly on the gold plating over the stainless steel case, I was extremely impressed with the workmanship, and you certainly can’t argue with the value. A genuine mechanical chronograph complication from one of the most recognizable watch marquees for well under $2,000.00 is almost unheard of. But it’s nice to know that there are still watch brands in the marketplace creating excellent examples of quality mechanical timepieces for the average consumer, and not just the “super rich.”
RE: Confessions of a rebellious WIS - Review of the Hamiton Khaki Field Automatic
Baz, I stumbled upon your post and this forum while researching a new watch (as I'm sure many people do). I am by no means a WIS, but since a young age I have had a certain fascination with them. My current main timepiece is a Seiko SDWC85 stainless diver's watch that I purchased in 2000. It has served me well, but I've gotten my usual 10-year itch to have something different on my wrist, preferably with a band instead of bracelet. I very much value classic designs that I can envision myself wearing for many years. (I still have--and occasionally wear--my first Seiko Chronograph that I bought in 1987 during my junior year of high school.) I had been perusing Hamilton's web site and really liked the look of their Khaki field watches, and after reading your post, I'm convinced it is what I want. The only thing I'm hung up on, however, is the size. For one thing, my current Seiko (38mm, I believe) seems too small even on my smallish 7-inch wrist and you say in your post that the 38mm actually wears smaller than its size. Therefore, I've been leaning toward the 42mm version. So I have the following question: In your photo, the 38mm Khaki does, in fact, look really well-proportioned to your arm. If you don't mind, would you post your wrist measurement so that I can get an idea of the scale? In the end, it's not that big of a deal because if I don't like the size I order, I will just exchange it for the other, but I'd rather avoid that hassle. Thanks in advance.
Hi all. I received my Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Mechanical 42mm watch today!
I don't have the time to write up a huge review, so here is my condensed version.
-42mm, bead-blasted ss case with coin-edge
-vintage Superluminova (very nice so far)
-Gothic-type hour/minute hands
-The 21mm stock hand-made German leather band is not my taste, though comfortable and very well made (already have replacement en route from Steinhart)
-mvt is ETA 2801-2 manual-wind (center seconds). 28,800 bph, 8bps.
-domed sapphire crystal, ss case back (screwed in (not down)).
So far, I love the watch. It wears pretty regular as a 42mm (doesnt feel bigger or smaller). The case, imo, is perfectly thick. The slight dome to the crystal is just enough classy, as Hamilton always does it just right!
I LOVE the hour/minute hands, so fancy! I also LOVE the font for the numbers on the dial (of which is a matte black which appears brown do to the refracted light off the brown all over the rest of the watch).
Being 28,800 bph, the second hand is just as smooth as you're used to with the 2824-2 (as this movement is based on).
Manual winding is smooth as silk.
Overall, I love this watch. It is everything I was looking for: a field-style watch, manual wound, and dark brown!
Any questions or comments feel free to chime in! Enjoy the pics, not my best, but bare with me since I'm sleep deprived! lol.
I purchased my Khaki Officer on December 23, 2010
Very pleased with this fine watch, nice and accurate too (3 seconds per day).
After 3 weeks the watch ran 2 minutes per day too fast.
I returned it for repair to the shop, they send it to the Hamilton repair center in The Netherlands.
Repair time was exactly 1 month (!!)
The watch then runs 1 minute fast per week. I was told that that is acceptable for an automatic watch. (??)
After some 3 months again the watch suddenly runs too fast, again some 2 minutes per day.
Again it was 'repaired', again that took 1 month, and now the watch runs 70 - 80 seconds too fast per week.
Also the back of the watch now shows minor damage, apparently it was hard to remove the back and some sharp item had been used to open it, while leaving scratches and small damage on the edges.
So after owning this Hamilton watch for 7 months, it was away for repair for 2 months, it is (still, again) running inaccurate and it seems to me it was repaired by an amateur in the Hamilton repair center in Holland.
I have again returned it to the shop in Brunssum where i have purchased the watch. They will see what they can do for me. Wow, lucky me!
The story has not ended yet: also i did sent a complain to Hamilton, using the email facility on their website.
They did not bother to send me any reply (that was 4 months ago, i have again posted a complain today).
Any one recognize the "Hamilton watch quality" and / or the Hamilton way of handling repairs to new watches, and / or Hamilton not bothering to respond to complaints of customers?
The shop where i have purchased the watch will provide a solution within 1 week.
Hope it is anything beyond repairing this watch or replacing it with another Hamilton watch. Think I just want my money back and forget about Hamilton.
Update July 20, 2011
After finding an email address of an Hamilton employee, dont ask me how I had layed my hands on that, I sent her the complain and from that on Hamilton reacted quickly, by phone and by contacting the shop owner.
Meanwhile the shop owner has taken the watch back, and I have purchased another watch with him (a Hamilton Pioneer).
In fact this has been his proposal from the beginning.
I trust Hamilton has learned from this issue, I have no knowledge about it. They have not contacted me further.
By the way, anyone interested in a spare, original Hamilton wrist wrap (22 mm), type H600765106, suitable for the Khaki Officer, and others, in the original sealed bag, also containing 2 mounting pins??
It seems hamilton watches are as rare as rocking horse poo in the UK unless you buy online, yet when I was recently in Spain they're everywhere :001_unsure: . Anyone aware of good uk stockists or servicing centres?
First time poster, also first time serious watch buyer, who has learned a lot from reading on this and other sites. I inherited a 10k gold Hamilton automatic from my father, who died in 1960. It worked well for many years until it finally broke down two years ago. Wasn't able to get it repaired. The Swatch group operation in New Jersey sent it back to me a month ago. I turned down their standard offer of a 30% discount on any new watch and decided to keep my dad's. Thanks to the online Hamilton catalogs posted elsewhere on this forum, I was able to identify the watch as a K-410 Automatic, first made in 1959 and sold for $100 -- recognizable immediately because of the use of Roman numerals. I may try again at some future date to get the watch repaired. If so, the resources on this forum will be invaluable.
In the meantime I bought a Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic, the watch reviewed a year ago by a poster names Baz. Because of the watch's association with the U.S. Army in World War II, I was disposed in its Hamilton's favor to begin with (my dad served in the 45th Division and saw extensive combat in Sicily, Italy, and France). Baz's writeup was hugely informative and helped me overcome my hesitation on dropping several hundred dollars (yes, I know the Hamilton line is at the lower end of the price spectrum of good watches, but that's dramatically more than I've ever paid for a watch in the past). I'm very satisfied with the watch, which seems to keep excellent time -- as nearly as I can tell, it's only 18 seconds off after ten days of use.
A K-410 should be an easy fix. Sending a watch to the Netherlands sounds super strange. The parts for a K-410 are readily available and any experience watchmaker should be able to fix it in an hour or two. (Not a hobbyist, but a professional watchmaker).
Next, your new watch should not lose or gain any time at all --- period. Maybe a fraction of a second a year. Find a pro watchmaker (not me) and have him or her write Hamilton. Your watchmaker can probably supply a graphic of the timing. Then phone calls to Hamilton should follow.
Frankly, this timing thing is absurd. I watch people get the kind of timing of which I'm speaking on 50 year old and older watches on a bench behind me in school. These guys aren't professionals - they're students.
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