Founded in 1892 as an American company in Pennsylvania, Hamilton was subsequently acquired by The Swatch Group in 1974. Since then, the brand has placed itself as one of the best value for money Swiss brands in the watchmaking world, priding itself as a brand with American Spirit and Swiss Precision - the brand’s tagline. Hamilton clads a reputation for building quality military and pilot’s watches. Some of which have even been issued by militaries and appeared in various blockbuster movies (think Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii, Men in Black, Interstellar etc.)
The new Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76719530 draws inspiration from pocket watches used during World War II, most notably the Hamilton Model 23. This model was issued to all branches of the American armed forces but was only predominantly used by the US Air Force. One look at it and you can definitely see where Hamilton got their inspiration for their latest pilot watch on offer.
The Hamilton Model 23 used predominantly by the USAF during WWII
The new Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer comes in at a case size of 43mm, with a case thickness of roughly 13.5mm, and a lug-to-lug of 51.5mm. While this might seem like Hamilton trying to make the watch unnecessarily large, especially when vintage watches tend to be smaller, it is a pilot’s watch with inspiration from a pocket watch after all - making the case size very apt for such styles of watches.
The watch case is made of satin-brushed 316L stainless steel (there is also a bronze version), and features a nicely domed sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating. While the large onion-style crown does not screw down, the watch is still certified for 100m of water resistance, more than enough for this style of watch and for everyday usage. The watch features a bidirectional countdown bezel, allowing you to count down to your favourite sports event or even how much longer your pizza needs to bake! Flipping the watch over, you will find a nice exhibition case back, showcasing the hand-wound calibre powering this watch - more on that later!
Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76719530
The dial features a black textured finish, with Arabic numerals as the indices and a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. A railroad minute track surrounds the indices - a nod to pocket watches of yesteryears. Large cathedral hands and Swiss old radium Superluminova help complete the vintage aesthetic of this gorgeous timepiece, with magnificent warm hues.
A major advantage of Hamilton being under the Swatch Group is its ability to utilise ETA movements - known for their utmost reliability and quality. Powering this Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76719530 is the ETA/Unitas 6498 - a hand-wound Swiss movement with 17 jewels and beats at 18,800 BPH. While this might be a slow beat rate in modern times, it does come with its benefits. One of which would be that it should require service at longer intervals than movements with a higher beat rate.
Satin-brushed 316L stainless steel case
Additionally, this movement does not feature a central seconds hand, choosing to place its seconds hand in a sub-dial at 6 o’clock. This means that although the sweep of the seconds hand would be less smooth, it is hardly noticeable (if at all) in the small sub-dial. The Unitas 6498 also boasts an impressive 50 hours of power reserve, while the big onion-style crown also ensures that winding the watch would be fuss-free, even while wearing thick gloves.
To complete the delightful vintage aesthetic, Hamilton pairs the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76719530 with a supple 20mm vintage style leather strap. It tapers to 18mm at the signed Hamilton buckle.
Swiss old radium Superluminova
With the vintage aesthetic, and inspiration from actual pocket watches used in combat, Hamilton has once again knocked it out of the park with this one, taking their stellar reputation for producing pilot and military watches to the next level. Hand-wound watches like this new Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76719530 creates a unique connection between the watch and owner, as interactions like winding the crown to power up the watch give it “life”. This watch is definitely not one to miss if you are on the market for a visually pleasing pilot’s watch from a reputable Swiss brand.