The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Air Zermatt watch hands-on
The relationship between Hamilton and the world of modern aviation is a close one and well established with aerobatic pilot Dario Costa and the Red Bull Air Race circuit, for instance. In contrast, a few people know that Hamilton has supported Air Zermatt for the past ten years. Air Zermatt prides itself on being a leading air rescue organization boasting 11 helicopters and 75 people, including pilots, paramedics, technicians, and flight instructors. A specific Khaki Aviation Converter Automatic Chronograph celebrates the ten-year partnership between Air Zermatt and Hamilton by adding a limited edition variant to the stock chronograph with a logarithmic scale and a slide rule.
The new product's backbone is not anything new, but a timepiece that belongs to the Khaki chronographs offering for quite a few years now, despite Hamilton unstoppably updating and upgrading the product inside and out. The Khaki Aviation Converter Automatic Chronograph Air Zermatt, or Khaki Aviation Converter Air Zermatt in short, adds specific design cues and superb packaging indeed, reinforcing the link between brand and organization further while adopting the standard technical and aesthetic template.
With a 44mm diameter across and 14.60mm thick case, the Khaki Aviation Converter Automatic Chronograph belongs to a pilot-ready class of products, including bold three-register Chronos powered by a rugged self-winding mechanical movement. However, consider that the case tapers to 42 mm approximate towards the case back for a couple of reasons, I think; the 42 case size is consistent with the mechanical movement's dimensions and helps improve comfort once you secure the timepiece on your wrist.
The Hamilton H-21 calibre with a silicon hairspring and a sixty-hour power reserve is an evolution of the industry-tested 7750, a mechanical movement widely appreciated for its reliability as much as for its low service costs, less so when it comes to size and winding mechanism's noise. The case extending up to 44 mm aims to offer a bold watch for him, highlighting its technical prowess. You won't find any smaller sized sports Chrono with a slide rule in the benchmark, even when packing a quartz movement. Among a Khaki Converter Chronograph's distinctive traits, I'll list the bezel and crown boasting double knurling. Hamilton's designers are always good at giving each product collection a unique style, and the Khaki Aviation Converter Automatic Chronograph is no exception; their task is more challenging than anywhere else, given that the three-register Chrono template, even more so when paired with a slide rule, is mainstream and kind of "deja vu".
Among the design cues that I like and make, no doubt, the watch stand out, are the light blue counters reminding the glaciers (matching blue is adopted on the bezel too) while I'll pick other two ones to discuss: the leather strap comes with a brushed and polished Air Zermatt logo placed on both ends (they look like rivets) and the case back houses a see-through sapphire crystal with Air Zermatt logo placed on top. I love the first one, quite a nice touch, while I won't approve of the second one and I'm going to tell you why. The H-21 is a good calibre but not the one you're eager to display on a timepiece; also, I think that applying a logo onto a crystal is too old-school. I would have opted for a solid case and a logo engraving, instead; even more so considering Air Zermatt's tool watch pedigree. Hamilton wins hands-down when it comes to the packaging; the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Air Zermatt comes standard with an orange box with a sliding drawer mimicking the same ELT (Emergency Location Transmitter) you'll find onboard the Air Zermatt helicopters. It is way beyond expectations and a prop rather than a watch box.
Hamilton will manufacture 988 pieces of the Khaki Aviation Converter Air Zermatt, as many as the rescue missions successfully carried out by Air Zermatt so far, each retailing for 2145 Euros. If you're eager to buy a bold and big chronograph, you're a Pilot or just crazy for aviation, the Air Zermatt might be your next and full-fledged Pilot's chronograph. The designers managed to make a standard product far more appealing, and the uncommon product packaging is a big part of the storytelling. In contrast, the extra-large size is a letdown and a "missed opportunity" towards attracting a wider audience loving the proposition, less the product size overall.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®