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Hamilton Khaki Automatic - The History of World War Ticker
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Hamilton Khaki Automatic - The History of World War Ticker

Let's travel back to the early age of Hamilton
Feb 05, 2021

Introduction: Hamilton Khaki History in US Army

As one of the leading companies in the pre-World War II American watch industry, and having had experience supplying the military in World War I, Hamilton was the right choice for producing watches for the armed forces.

In support of the war effort, Hamilton ceased all consumer production to focus on production for the armed forces, making more than one million watches during the war period. Hamilton makes watches and other timepieces, as well as timers and other instruments, including precision marine chronometers.

Because of its high quality, Hamilton was awarded the US Army "E" Award for manufacturing excellence.

The wartime conditions required brands to innovate - when access to traditional watch oil for lubrication was stopped because of the war, Hamilton chemists developed a new superior oil, as well as a special compound that did not disperse.

Prior to World War II, Hamilton acquired American rights to Elinvar, a non-magnetic alloy, to use as a hairspring. Surprised by the difference in Elinvar's qualities, Hamilton developed his own per-hair blend, Elinvar Extra, which solves the problem. While visiting the Hamilton plant in 1943, Marvin E. Whitney of the United States Naval Observatory said, “I was amazed by the quality control and care that goes into producing new alloys. It was like being in a medical laboratory."

Hamilton 992E Elinvar Calibre (Image:
Marine Chronometer

Navigation on the high seas is a concern of the US Navy. There was no satellite navigation at the time, and the ship could not transmit long-range radio, fearing the enemy could return to the ship's position, so the Navy needed a dead reckoning - using the skies to navigate.

The government bids all watch companies to manufacture marine chronometers. This chronometer is actually a large pocket watch and is very precise on the gimbal, so it is not affected by the throws and rolls of the boat. The only company capable of mass production of marine chronometers to Navy standards is Hamilton. During World War II, Hamilton went on to make more than 10,000 chronometers. This marine chronometer, especially the one in the original wooden case, is a valuable collector's item today.

In fact, the plaque accompanying the Hamilton Marine Chronometer on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., reads, “This chronometer performs so well that it is in high demand wherever a chronometer is used. To produce such a superlative instrument under wartime handicap conditions was a great victory for its maker."

Hamilton Marine Chronometer displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. (Image:

Hamilton's ability to mass produce marine chronometers was critical to the Allied victory in World War II. Admiral Arleigh Burke, Deputy Admiral Marc Mitscher Chief of Staff during the battle at Leyte Bay wrote: “The ships of the 3rd and 7th Fleet that fought in Leyte Bay relied heavily on the Hamilton Marine Chronometer for accurate timing which was critical for successful naval operations in sea ​​and air. This victory of the United States, in one of the greatest naval battles ever, marked the start of World War II."

René Rondeau, Hamilton expert and retired watchmaker and writer, emphasizes Hamilton's strong military heritage. "Hamilton's greatest claim to fame is the marine chronometer, which is an extraordinary achievement," he said. They're not the only company that supplies the US military with watches, but they're by far the most important. From talking to countless people over the years, there have been some old warriors who went to great lengths to keep Hamilton's watches as they were supposed to be turned over. The experience of soldiers owning Hamiltons is a big plus when they return to civilian life, because of their experience with Hamilton during the war. They really appreciate Hamilton."

At the auction, there are some coveted Hamiltons who have realized the hefty price tag, such as the Ventura bought by Elvis, which sold for $12,800, and the Hamilton worn by Robin Williams of the Dead Poets Society, which topped off at $ 32,500. Hamilton military watches sell from $60 to $500 in the secondary market, depending on the model and condition. Many of the military issue watches, however, do not mention Hamilton on the dial. Hamilton marine chronometers sell for between $1,400 and $4,000, depending on conditions, which appears to be under-valued, given their historical importance.

Elvis Presley wearing his Hamilton Ventura

Although Hamilton military watches are not highly valued on the secondary market, they are part of American history and may make them meaningful and collectable to you.

Overview of Hamilton Khaki Series

The first "good" watch of many was or will be the Hamilton. With mechanical watches starting at $495, the Swiss brand with American roots is making clear efforts to offer solid value that longtime collectors continue to appreciate. A wide variety for most under $2k - and many even under $1k - makes Hamilton approachable and fun, while offering solid quality and even a brand name steeped in history.

Many watch enthusiasts may continue to think of Hamilton as an American brand in some ways, even though they know that it has been in the hands of Switzerland for decades - hardly any other company has survived better to represent the era when the United States was a major force in the timepieces industry. Founded in 1892, Hamilton replaced several watch-producing companies in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the company would be based until 1969 and where the original administrative and production structures still prevail.

Producing his own movement, Hamilton made fine pocket watches that met the stringent requirements of the railroad and later supplied the military with marine chronometers, field watches and even "canteen watches" for early naval divers. Other notable watches include innovative models such as the first electric watch (Ventura) and the first LED watch (Pulsar). The brand is also deeply rooted in Hollywood, with its watch appearing in more than 500 films to date.

Although the company ended US production in 1969 and currently falls under the umbrella of the Swatch Group brand, its modern catalog draws on an American background - and not only with vintage-inspired looks and re-displays, but with a design philosophy that Americans often inform (The tag line "American spirit, Swiss precision" sums up the personality of the company well.) Taking advantage of the Swatch Group's resources, Hamilton watches are powered by reliable, mass-produced ETA movements, including those with the latest technologies such as silicon components and extended spare parts. power. Premium features such as sapphire crystals are also hallmarks of Hamilton watches even at the lower price range.

Big brands with extensive catalogs like Hamilton can be sliced ​​and diced in many ways. However, in general, about half of Hamilton's most famous offerings have a military theme and belong to one of the three Khaki collections: Field (land), Navy (sea) and Aviation (air). The remaining four have contemporary or fashion-oriented motifs: the Jazzmaster and Broadway collections are more elegant, while American Classics is very similar to its sound, with vintage-inspired republics and references galore. The avant-garde Ventura line is a thing in itself.

There are almost all types of watches for almost every type of person in the Hamilton catalog.


Let's break down in detail on what you can expect from the Hamilton Khaki if you're on the lookout for one of the best watches out there.

Extraordinary. I thought that would just rightly start this review on the highest possible note. The Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic was my first Swiss watch and after weeks of research and contemplation I pulled the trigger and haven't looked back since.

This model is reference number H70455733 and measures 38mm in diameter with a lug width of 20mm, featuring a nice little date window at the 3 o'clock position.What annoyed me at first, as I'm sure many others have experienced, is that it isn't like the standard method for changing the index on the right, the date window is positioned next to the 3 o'clock marker, or in this case a, 15 field watch. Even though it creates a rather strange asymmetrical display, I really wanted to get a dating complication and over time, it grew on me. It is worth mentioning that there are many other models ranging from date day complications, manual movements and something more stylish and luxurious, leather strap models that don't go out of style.

The watch consists of a brushed case with polished bezels and a crown with a large yet bulky handle that features a manual wind. It boasts a reasonable 100m water resistance, perfectly adequate for everyday use but swimming and other water activities if you need it. Adding to its durability is a slightly domed sapphire crystal, adding to the beautiful aesthetic. The syringe, together with the red tipped second hand, allows for a very complex and accurate reading of the time, straight to the minutes and seconds which makes it very easy to set the watch.


What's a casual watch if it doesn't look good, right? Fortunately, you can be sure that this Hamilton mens watch is enough to wow you, even if the aesthetics are not overwhelming or out of the ordinary. It might look like your everyday timepiece with a brown leather strap and polished frame.

In fact, it's too subtle, so it might look shiny and attractive to you. Moving on to the strap, you'll love its robust feel and thick look, which should suit a man who likes a wide band. This watch isn't a watch you can flip on thin, and there are watches that feel good when worn securely on your wrist.

If you don't like the color, you should be able to find a good replacement. We feel the reddish brown strap color may be too harsh for those accustomed to black or dark brown.

Hands and Visibility

We liked the good visibility of the hour and minute hands. At night, these lights glow with a green lume, which makes it easy to tell the time during low-light situations. The needle is also placed in a straight position, and looks relatively secure as you adjust the time.

The hand is much less likely to fall, and this is a comforting thought as this problem usually occurs with cheaper watches.

The case looks solid with a solid form and design. We saw no defects or substandard quality in workmanship. But there is a slight problem with the crystal due to its somewhat domed style. There's also no anti-reflective coating for that, but it's not a fixer given the ease of knowing the timing despite this feature, or should we say, it's lacking.

We dig up bold, legible Arabic numerals, which in our opinion are much better readable than Roman numerals. The black buttons also match the stainless steel bezel for adding contrast. Another thing about numbers is their luminous quality, along with the second and sub-second markers found around the scale.

There's also a date display with a white highlight, and it's at the 3 o'clock position. No matter which angle you look at it from, it's clearly legible, which we really liked.

The dial is legible in every setting and angle, during the day and in the dark; The luminescent is very bright and shines with a greenish tint, illuminating the inner hour index, minute and hour hands. The standard leather strap I bought didn't really suit my taste, so I swapped it for a black NATO strap which I thought was a lot better suited for this style of watch. Overall, the finish on the case and dial is exquisite and together with the neutral colors, makes it a very versatile casual watch.


Keeping the heart of the watch is a Caliber H-10 automatic movement, which is based on the ETA which contains 25 gems and can be adored from the slightly ornate case back. It has an impressive power reserve of around 80 hours which is as reliable and comfortable as possible. A slightly skeletonized rotor, recharging the mainspring but manual wind knob is another useful addition, without mentioning the fact that it is incredibly soft when rolled up.

One of the factors that attracted me to this watch is the amount of history associated with it; Hamilton produced one of his first watches in the late 19th century and was acquired by the Swatch group in the 1960s. Khaki Field was distributed among the US Army and became the official watch reserved for soldiers. As a field watch, there is no better sense of validation than a watch to be used for purposes intended for the masses, but also for brutal, gritty work.

The durability and ruggedness of the construction make it the perfect hitting watch as well as a great everyday item (like the one I use) that can be worn in endless clothing styles, and is incredibly versatile in its strap. variety, thanks to the wide and comfortable lug structure. Another thing I personally like is its subtlety; it's an important piece of watch history with astonishing quality and unless you know what it is, it looks like an ordinary watch, probably boring. I guess you can compare it to a 600 horsepower V8 planter with a very minimal badge on all sides that on the surface it might look pretty standard but unless you know what it has you won't know. But that's what interests me the most.


Is this the kind of watch that resists abuse? You can bet!

The Khaki Field is tough, thanks to its sapphire crystal and stainless steel case that keeps the watch rust free. Even if exposed to moisture or sweat, there is no risk of corrosion. If the case is damaged, perfecting this piece shouldn't be a problem at all.

Coming back to the crystal design, you'll see a slightly dome look that also doubles as a scratch protector. Unless someone hit the crystal with a baseball bat head-on, the crystal would definitely shatter to pieces. But since it's not something that happens regularly, the crystal will last a long time.

Do you shower with your watch? Not a problem with Khaki Field, as it has a water resistance rating of 100 meters. This means that it is absolutely safe if your watch gets wet while washing dishes, or walks in the rain, or even if you forget to take it off in the shower.

Some Considerations

Like we said, leather straps are beautiful, but a little stiff. Width doesn't help at all in reducing stiffness, so we advise you to "break" this watch (wearing it continuously for a week) until it is more comfortable on your wrist.

The bright side of rigid leather, however, is the clear, sturdy quality of the material.

Do you like additional features when it comes to casual watches like altitude, day of the week, or stopwatch? If so, Khaki Square might disappoint you. But if a basic timekeeping feature is all you need, then this watch is great to use.

Return to the surface of Hamilton Khaki Field 42mm. We have to admit - the shiny edges around the crystals look pretty. The only time this can turn into a weakness is having this part scratched. Brushed steel is better because it makes the scratches less noticeable.


Do you need to reconsider before purchasing the Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic 38mm?

If I were you, I wouldn't. For the price, it's a keeper - with a vintage, military design, along with a well-crafted design that makes it a low maintenance watch.

While there may be some minor issues with the watch such as the stiff leather strap, the ultra fine domed crystal, and the slight faint glow of the hand, we think it's a solid watch that is worth every dollar. Get your own Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic today!

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