In-Depth Review - 5 Months Owning the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
On the 29th August 2019, I was gifted a lovely Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm, reference H69439531. I was over the moon as I had been deliberating over getting one for the longest time, constantly switching between wanting the black dial and then wanting the white again. I was very happy to see it was the black dial and I have worn it regularly in rotation with my other watches. This is my In-Depth Review of the watch after 5 months, I look forward to doing this again in 1 year and see what, if anything, has changed!
Where to begin with this watch, well let’s start at the very beginning, no not 2019 when this updated model with the improved movement was released, but the 1960s! It all began in the US with a specification first published on October 30th, 1964. This specification was an update to the existing “MIL-Spec”, the new MIL-W-46374 was described as needing to be “Accurate & Disposable”, these were typically much lower quality than their previous MIL-Spec standard. Many brands in the US provided watches up to this new specification and Hamilton was one of them, with a watch nicknamed the “Hack” due to its feature of hacking when the crown was pulled out, a feature we are used to now but was vital to synchronising during missions. These watches were continuously made in volume during the 60s but quickly became redundant and went out of production after the introduction of quartz. Hamilton certainly took inspiration from this, including watches from WWII, but didn’t directly rip them off like we usually see in “Vintage Inspired” watches that brands release today. This watch is a faithful homage to the bygone era of those being true military and field watches, whilst providing us with what it may have been like with modern proportions, design and specification we come to expect today.
The watch is housed in a 38mm stainless steel case with a fine bead blasted finish, this finish not only looks great but helps to hide scratches and resist marks longer than standard polishing or matte finishes, hence why mine still looks brand new even after 5 months. The watch features a small stepped bezel drawing your eyes inwards towards the dial, which we will get onto shortly. At 3 o’clock is the crown, quite large and protrudes slightly which helps with grip, along with the deep engraving to the crown for grip. The crown does not screw down which has been seen as a negative to some, but personally with this being a manually wound watch, unscrewing that crown to wind the watch and screw back down would have been an unnecessary extra step for the potential added water resistance. The crown is signed with the Hamilton iconic “H”, a nice touch. Flipping the watch over to the case back you see a simple amount of text and information. Also missing an exhibition case back to show the movement, which is fine with me as at this price point you cannot expect a lot in the way of finishing on movements. The case back is a solid piece of stainless steel which is screwed down, this gives the watch 50 meters of water resistance which is more than enough for everyday tasks and causes no reason for concern, I would go as far as to say new and with fresh seals, this watch could go swimming without issue.
With a 47mm lug to lug length it does wear quite long, to put that into perspective the Omega Speedmaster Professional has a lug to lug length of 48mm, when comparing a 38mm watch to a 42mm and only having 1mm difference in lug to lug length it can be noticeable, especially for the smaller wristed guys. A point worth mentioning but one that hasn’t affected me at all, I have a 6 3/4inch wrist and this watch wears perfect, also pairing with NATO straps at the end of the lugs the watch just slopes straight down or to the curve of your wrist, so it shouldn’t be a big issue unless you do have very small wrists. The watch features a lug width of 20mm making strap changes a breeze, especially with the addition of drilled lug holes, though I have both the Khaki Green NATO and the Leather NATO that Hamilton offer with this model and I have still not yet needed to swap to anything else, these two strap options offer the perfect choice for me whenever I wear this watch. To be clear when purchasing this watch, you choose one or other, I purchased the other to have both straps.
One big highlight for me personally with this watch is the thickness, coming in at only 9.5mm thick it wears incredibly thin and low to the wrist. Perfect for a field watch as the goal is for it to sit unobtrusive to the wrist, not be visible and be comfortable, everything this watch is. It also allows the watch to slip under a cuff easily, whether that be a jumper and jacket in the cold months like I have found myself wearing this watch during winter.
The crystal on the watch is a sapphire crystal which is exactly what you want on a watch that is designed for being worn in more demanding situations, but personally an unexpected addition at this price point when you factor everything else including the movement. Which we go onto in much more detail further down, but briefly it is the calibre H-50 which a manually wound 80-hour power reserve workhorse!
The watch does feature something that we have seen taken the industry by storm recently and separating people into two camps of “For” or “Against” and that is “Faux Patina”, the process of making luminescent material look aged as if it was a vintage watch featuring radium or tritium. Straight off the bat, I should say I am personally in the “Against” camp, yet here I am owning, wearing and loving this Hamilton which features it! It is done tastefully and in the right way, without being too obvious on the wrist and subtle enough to blend with the overall design, I talk about it more in the next part.
Another great touch is the options available for this watch. The Khaki Field range covers many models and variants, but this exact watch is the Khaki Field Mechanical and is offered in the black dial I have, a white dial which I debated over for the longest time. It also comes in 2 PVD options, the “Earth” coloured PVD which looks awesome and the all-black which again just adds a whole new stealth look to the already stealthy watch. They added the right amount of options without going too far in my opinion, a blue quartz model is also available in this exact spec just without the mechanical movement.
So as far as Swiss-made budget Field Mechanical watches go this is easily the best, I would go as far as saying it is one of the best watches you can get under £500 if this is the aesthetic you are looking for! More on that in the conclusion.
The dial of this watch is what captures most, the simplicity and legibility are perfect in my opinion. What you have is a black dial with bold Arabic numerals from “1” to “12”, underneath those are smaller Arabic numeral track from “13” to “24”, making this a 24-hour dial. Perfectly fitting for its field watch aesthetic and military history and inspiration, as the military use 24-hour time. On the outer edge of the dial, you have a white minute track with super-luminova triangular markers in each hour, these markers feature the same “Faux Patina” that the hands do, however, the tone of this lume is slightly lighter than what is applied to hands. The reason for this is true to form again to a vintage watch, a vintage watch that has developed natural patina typically (Not always!) has slightly lighter lume on the dial than the hands, the reason for this was sometimes different companies made the hands to the dial maker, also the amount of lume applied was typically different on the dial to the hands due to the requirement of seeing the hands longer than the dial. Onto the half-sword, half syringe hands we have a lovely white border which matches the white of the numerals, inside is the super-liminova we see on the dial but as mentioned is slightly darker. The second hand is white also with a large round white counterbalance and a nicely applied small arrow tip with super-liminova. To finish off this well-rounded dial is the “Hamilton” logo finely printed at 12, unobtrusive and void of anything else.
Hamilton has mastered this dial, they resisted the urge we see from a lot of Swatch brands, plus brands in general, of adding a date here, adding more font here, do this, do that… It ruins a lot of watches coming out and I find myself looking at the Tissot, Hamilton or Longines heritage range saying “If only they didn’t add this”, there is not one thing I can say that to with regards to this watch. The no-date aspect is perfect, a date would have ruined the symmetry and it would have been unnecessary. The fact that the only font beyond the numerals is the logo “Hamilton”, perfect! More brands please take note, we do not need to know the water resistance, the fact it is mechanical and the fact you have some fancy logo for your range on the dial. (Yes Seiko Prospex, I’m talking about you!)
Inside powering this Hamilton is the Calibre H-50, before this, the Khaki Field Mechanical was using the ETA 2801-2 which featured a 42-hour power reserve and ran at 28,800 VPH (4Hz). At the base of the “new” H-50 is still the ETA 2801-2, they have reduced the beat rate to 21,600 VPH (3hz) and increased the size of the barrel to allow for a superior power reserve, quite smart and simple. It is a 17 jewel manually wound movement with a diameter of 25.6mm and shows hours, minutes and seconds.
Having owned this for quite some time now I can tell you the movement has performed great for me on the wrist, I have not noticed much deviation in time and never had to readjust the time, even after wearing this watch continuously for a week. I will also attach a photo of the watch on a timegrapher and see how it is actually running.
I would not hesitate to recommend any Hamilton watch with the H-50 calibre when it was first released there were a few concerns as there usually are with any “new” movements from brands, but there is no reason to worry here. A few people had reported issues with the movements, timekeeping not good and some having power reserve issues, again I think this is quite rare and in the grand scheme of the amount, they made probably very few experienced these issues.
If you are in the market for a field watch, I do not care what your budget is, you must consider one of these! Easily the best field watch under £1000 and easily competes with watches over that price too, it offers everything you need, is executed perfectly and has a wide array of options to suit everyone!
There is not one thing I would change about this watch, which is a bold statement I know! But it explains why this is going to stay in my collection, this watch even led me to sell my 1944 Omega 30T2 which was a beautiful and perfect watch, but this Hamilton just got the wrist time far more and ruled the Omega redundant to own for me personally. The “Faux Patina” is what some people complain about, in person it is done tastefully and well, as mentioned above even the tone of the faux lume is slightly different from the hands to the dial which is true to a vintage watch, but is not overly done. Some say the size, 38mm is the perfect sweet spot for this type of watch and pair that with the finishing it is great. Some say the lack of a screw-down crown, for me this does not bother me as it is manually wound so unscrewing each time to wind would be a pain, also I do not go swimming or diving and if I was I’d wear a dive watch and not this, in everyday life, this watch will be fine with interactions with water, no worries there at all.
The perfect field watch? It is a yes from me! Would love to hear what you think below in the comments, have you owned or currently own this watch? Considering getting one? Let me know!
Specs & Availability
Dimensions – 38mm Case Size / 9.5mm Thickness / 20mm Lugs / 47mm Lug-Lug
Case Material – Stainless Steel (Bead Blast Finish)
Strap – Khaki Green NATO or Brown Leather NATO
Dial - Black
Lume – Super-LumiNova, Sand Coloured (Faux Patina)
Water Resistance – 50 Meters
Movement – Manually Wound Calibre H-50 / 80 Hours Power Reserve / 21,600 vph
Price - £395 / £445 (Khaki NATO / Leather NATO)
Availability – Available at all Hamilton Retailers & Hamilton directly