Hamilton Khaki Field Replica Watch

The new Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition takes a popular entry point into mechanical Swiss watchmaking and adds a few features in hopes it’ll live up to its adventurous name. Hamilton also makes a few considered tweaks to the dial and case. While these changes come at a price, the Expedition still makes a case for being your new $1,000 everyday watch.
With the Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition, Hamilton takes its long-standing Khaki Field line and brings some additions and tweaks to make for a more robust field watch. The entirely brushed stainless steel case is now offered in 37mm (44mm lug-to-lug) or 41mm (48mm lug-to-lug). As the lug-to-lug measurements hint at, the oft-maligned long lugs of the Khaki Field Mechanical are gone, making for a more compact and wearable case. I have relatively small wrists (6.25mm), so I preferred the smaller size but the 41mm was still manageable.

The Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition is offered in four versions: a black dial on a strap or bracelet, along with white and blue dials on a strap. Compared to existing Khaki Field models, the dial is simple: just hour markers and an outer seconds track (with SuperLumiNova at the hour ticks), and two lines of text. It’s clean and easy to read, though the font feels a little squat. The SuperLumiNova in the hands is strong and serviceable; no lume on the numerals, sadly.

The most notable addition is the compass bezel. Using a compass bezel is pretty simple. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, point the hour hand at the sun, then rotate the “South” indication on the bezel to the point halfway between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock. That’s it, you’ve found south. Hold the watch flat and you’ll know which direction you’re moving. It’s not the most accurate thing in the world, but it’ll do; just adjust the compass bezel every few hours as the sun moves across the sky. (Technically, any watch will do the trick if you’re in a pinch, but the compass bezel helps make your orientation a bit more accurate.)The bi-directional rotating bezel is easy to grip. It has 60 clicks that give a muted sound when turned. If my life goes according to plan, I can’t imagine I’ll ever truly use or need a compass bezel. I might’ve preferred a simple polished bezel instead, but the bezel does illustrate a certain commitment to the whole “Expedition” theme that I respect. A polished bezel might’ve even been a better choice commercially, so respect to Hamilton for the dedication. Besides, the brushed steel of the compass bezel is relatively seamless with the case and not a design element that begs for attention. There if you want to use it, melts into the rest of the case if you don’t.

The case is fairly nondescript, with the dimensions better and more wearable than the existing Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. There’s an enlarged screw-down crown, a nice tool-watch touch. Thanks to this, the Khaki Field Expedition also has 100 meters of water resistance. The automatic H-10 caliber (an ETA movement) is visible through a sapphire caseback. The 37mm case is 10.45mm thick, while the 41mm is one millimeter thicker, which keeps both cases balanced. The Khaki Field Expedition is offered on a two-piece leather strap or an entirely brushed steel bracelet, both upgrades over the Khaki Field Mechanical’s equivalent offerings. The bracelet is also entirely brushed and uses pins on its removable links. For a watch like this – one that appeals to people for whom this might be their first mechanical watch – I’d love to see Hamilton use easy-to-change screws. The Khaki Field Expedition has a price of $995 on a strap or $1,045 on a bracelet. It’s a healthy premium over the Khaki Field Mechanical ($595; side note, doesn’t it feel like just yesterday these were $475?), but the screw-down crown and accompanying 100 meters of water resistance, compass bezel, and improved dimensions make a reasonable case for the price increase. While the bracelet is an upgrade over existing options in the Khaki Field lineup, this is still a strap watch to me, worn on leather, canvas, a NATO, or anything in between.

The under-$1,000 field watch category is as competitive as ever, though not all will offer some of the specs of the Khaki Field Expedition – the screw-down crown, increased water resistance, and compass bezel set it apart from much of the competition. If you want a list of field watches under a grand, here’s a list of ours to get you started. The Seiko Alpinist ($725) is the most obvious comparison, which has an internal compass bezel and 200 meters of water resistance. The Alpinist is slightly more elegant, or at least as elegant as any Seiko can be, while the Hamilton feels a touch more rugged. For the extra few hundred bucks, you don’t get any better specs, so you’d be paying for the look and feel of the Khaki Field Expedition. Either way, the Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition has given consumers another option, and that’s usually a good thing.