The Hamilton watch brand is rich in American history, and not just for railroad pocket watches but also for military timepieces. Wristwatches gained popularity after World War I, so Hamilton responded to the shifting market demand by developing them. Prior to World War II, a lot of brands took to designing watches that conformed to military specifications in order to win defense contracts. Hamilton was one of them. It abandoned its consumer business during World War II to strictly manufacture wristwatches for the military and ultimately earned a place as a military issue watch. Hamilton would continue to make watches up to military specs into the Vietnam War.
It’s from these military issue watches that Hamilton’s contemporary Khaki line draws its inspiration. When you compare the current Khaki models to their wartime predecessors, you instantly see the resemblance to those that American troops once strapped to their wrists, but the new Khaki also affords you modern luxuries that most civilians look for in a nice wristwatch. The combination of provenance, legibility and quality craftsmanship make any Hamilton Khaki a good choice for an everyday piece, but the Titanium version refreshes the classic model with mystique that makes the Titanium an attractive option to buyers who want a more interesting aesthetic in their everyday watch.
Hamilton also has a strong relationship with Hollywood cinema with many of its watches having appeared on the big screen and its Behind the Camera Awards ceremony that honors those folks who make films happen behind the scenes. The cinematic tradition continues in 2014 with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, another action thriller based on Tom Clancy character, Jack Ryan, which hit theaters on January 17. The film’s title character is played by Chris Pine who wears a Hamilton Khaki Titanium Automatic. Kevin Costner’s character also sports a Hamilton, the Flight Timer, but today we’ll be taking a close look at the Titanium Khaki Automatic.
Case & Dial
The first thing you’ll notice about the Khaki Field Titanium is its light weight (65 g) that promises comfort and wearability. That’s one of the great things about titanium. Instead of going with the standard gunmetal appearance that most titanium cases and bracelets use, Hamilton chose a PVD-applied coating to give the watch a smooth, dark, clandestine feel that sets it apart from your standard field-inspired piece and makes it an excellent choice for an espionage thriller like Jack Ryan. The 42mm size is perfect for my 6.75″ wrist, and the watch has a low profile with a slightly domed sapphire crystal. “TITANIUM” is printed on the side of the case opposite the crown.
Although the case looks and feel different from other Khaki models, the dial is nearly identical to the steel Khaki Field 42mm variation. If legibility and a classic aesthetic were the primary goals, then Hamilton achieved them. The hands are well proportioned and, although nothing exclusive to the titanium version, the lumed arrow tip on the second hand is a charming and practical addition to the design. A primary set of hour markers indicate the time in 12-hour format while an inner ring offers the time in a military-esque 24-hour format. The hour markers, hands and seconds hand’s arrow tip is coated in SuperLuminova. I say that the dial on the titanium version is nearly identical to the regular steel model because the color of the of markers on the dial (and their lume) on the titanium version seems a little more green to me while my experience with the steel’s markers is that they’re more silver with a bluish lume.
The watch is rated to 100 meters water resistance.
Through its sapphire crystal exhibition case back you can see the relatively undecorated ETA 2824-2 at work, the same engine you’ll find on a standard Khaki Field Auto. Other than a signed Hamilton rotor, there are no frills here. Just a reliable movement with a date complication that will deliver for years to come. In keeping with the spy theme, a black date wheel with white text would have been a nice touch to promote a consistently dark dial. While it would have increased the price, the white date window on an otherwise all-black design disrupts the harmony. Over a 48-hour period the watch kept time to +9 sec/day, well within the movement’s acceptable deviation.
Style & Comfort
Hamilton’s Khaki Field Titanium comes on a black canvas strap with a weather resistant coating or a titanium bracelet. Both options are handsome, but I personally prefer the canvas option with its calf leather lining because it reflects the watch’s original military intentions and keeps the whole watch as light as a feather. The trademark Hamilton “H” buckle boldly and securely holds the strap in place. My only complaint about the strap, and this is really my only serious concern with the watch, is that the strap makes it difficult to put on the watch because the coating on the strap increases the toughness and friction. Pulling the loose end through the buckle is a struggle, and once you succeed in fastening the buckle the free end is reluctant to glide through the keepers. The upside of this, however, is the keepers are never going to slide off and leave you with a loose end of strap that sticks out. With a 20mm lug width, finding replacement straps would be easy if you are too impatient to break-in the strap or prefer a NATO (a black leather one would be a good look).
Like I said, any Hamilton Khaki Field can serve as an everyday watch, but this titanium one feels most at home on dark denim. It’s dark, sleek and would fit under a shirt cuff, so I wouldn’t hesitate to pair it with a dark blazer and jeans if you’re looking to make an interesting statement with your watch. If you’re wearing a full suit, though, I’d leave it at home.
The Final Word
At $995, you’re getting a quality watch that blends its watchmaking history and the market’s demand for fine timepieces into an affordable product. The Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Automatic gives you the best of both worlds at a reasonable price and in a look that is distinctly Hamilton. Nearly $1,000 seems like a lot when the standard Khaki Field Autos retail for $575, but the titanium and PVD-applied coating do contribute to a unique look and ultra light weight you can only get with the titanium version. At that price, you won’t find a lot of military-inspired alternatives with all the same specs and attention to detail as Hamilton’s Khaki Field Titanium Automatic.
- Model: Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Automatic #H70575733
- Case: 42mm Titanium w/PVD-applied coating
- Crystal: Sapphire, domed
- Case back: Exhibition w/sapphire crystal
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Strap: Coated canvas w/calf leather lining and Hamilton logo double-pin buckle
- Movement: ETA 2824-2
- Water Resistance: 100m
- Retail Price: $995