Since the beginning of recorded time, man has sought to escape the bounds of earth’s pull for the freedom of the skies above. From the dawn of the 20th century, when man first affixed wings to engine for that brief-yet-monumental flight on the beach in Kitty Hawk, it seemed there was nothing left holding us back. Certainly, there were stumbles along the path of progress, but the route was clear: upward. And the name Hamilton was there from nearly the beginning. The very early days of flight saw pilots affixing pocket watches to straps worn on the outside of their heavy leather coats. In 1918, a Hamilton aeronautical watch was worn when the first US Airmail service began between New York and Washington,D.C., and the brand has been a part of aviation lore ever since. A Hamilton was the first watch flown over the North Pole in 1926, and by the ‘30s, Hamilton was the official timekeeper for America’s four major airlines. Hamilton watches were renowned for their accuracy, a claim to fame since their days as a leading maker of railroad pocket watches, and pilots relied on them when making critical navigational calculations. Many of the world’s armed forces selected Hamilton to supply them, including Britain’s Royal Air Force, and now Hamilton has released a faithful-yet-contemporary chronograph inspired by an RAF-issue watch from the 1970s, the new Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph.
I’ve always loved vintage pilot’s chronos, and the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph nails the look and feel, without the anxiety of wearing a fragile vintage original beyond the confines of your home office. Although marginally larger than its inspiration, it’s perfectly reasonable for a tool watch, and should fit a fairly wide range of wrists. With its combination of good looks, utility, and value compared to some other Swiss chronographs, Hamilton appears to have a winner on its hands. Or rather, wrists.
American-Swiss watchmaker Hamilton is now celebrating the 1970s British Royal Air Force with its latest Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chrono. With a design based on the very timepiece issued to members of the RAF decades prior, Hamilton’s latest aviation model offers a vintage-inspired look, pairing a 40mm brushed stainless steel case with a classic black dial adorned with faux patina indexes, hands, and subdials by 3 and 9 o’clock.
Two pushers on either side of the crown allow for easy access to the chronograph function, which itself is powered by the watchmaker’s exclusive H-51-Si mechanical hand-wound movement with a power reserve of 60 hours. Completing the watch is a sturdy domed sapphire crystal, a vegetable-tanned brown calf leather strap and a water resistance of 100m.