The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman watch hands-on
Let me please introduce you to the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman 46, one of the most beautiful 2016 novelties among diver’s watches. If I were to think about a diver’s watch, I wouldn’t’ immediately consider a Hamilton timepiece and that’s not because I don’t trust much that this brand were capable of crafting a diver’s watch but rather because I would open the catalogue on the classic Khaki collection and, from this year onwards, even on the section about the Face 2 Face. Hamilton has brought back to life one of its historic models while also quoting a movie for the launch of the new Frogman (Hamilton watches have been among the most on screen present timepieces in the last 50 years.) The manufacturer’s latest model is a professional timepiece that can withstand up to 1000m of depth and that also sports quite a lot of features which could compete with those adopted by more than a brand that has made its core business out of professional diver’s watches.
The titanium-alloy version of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman that measures 46mm is the very top of an entire collection that Hamilton has carefully worked on and turned into a particular image symbol, the brand style is no longer faithful to a conservative image but it is quite original and unhinged, something quite unusual in a sector of the watch-making industry that doesn’t give too much freedom and where standing out is quite a titanic project. Many manufacturers have tried to reinterpret some of the models from the past, lately the 70s diver’s watches revival is in full swing and some brands also tend to copy the most recognizable classic three hands watches by trying to lure new customers through a low retail price but also losing visibility a couple of months after they have actually launched their new releases. Quite a few brands actually like daring, even from an aesthetic point of view.
From a purely technical standpoint, the design of a diver’s watch that is 1000m-water-resistant is not too complicated, the market is actually full of these type of timepieces. The difficult task that a very few and selected bunch of manufacturers pursue is crafting a diver’s watch that doesn’t need any helium valve, that means creating a sophisticated case and complying to a reference standard that not many customers would be interested in and/or are not able to fully grasp. I even know some people who consider the presence of that valve like something necessary.
In Italy Hamilton is a very popular brand, mainly because of its exceptional combination of good quality/image and retail price that only a few competitors can boast and that the brand is quite eager not to alter. The manufacturer’s strength is its ability of add new contents that are perceived as added valued features by its customers, beside being truly useful additions, that don’t make the final retail price of Hamilton’s timepieces skyrocket.
During the hectic days of Baselworld I noticed the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman 46 on display but the press-devoted Thursday is such a busy day that it is quite hard to metabolize all the novelties around and nothing can be compared to the feeling of wearing that particular watch for one week after the exhibition has actually finished. That’s when you have enough time at your disposal to wear a timepiece, enjoy it, either love it or hate it and fully understand whether it is a transitory passion or a timepiece that you would actually purchase, that’s the real feeling that makes you understand whether you have fallen for a timepiece or not.
The aesthetic layout of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman 46 is one the best ones ever realized in the last few years and that’s the opinion of someone who owns not less than 10 diver’s watches and is pretty selective when it comes to them. The case is imposing, the bezel that sports a matted red ring and that perfectly matches the matted gray hue of the titanium material create a strong and expressive wholeness feeling that makes this timepiece look quite technical. This feeling is amplified by the adoption of some quite simple solutions, namely the size of the date window has been reduced and moved to 4:30 o’clock so that it almost blends in with the trapezoid-shaped applied indexes. This particular geometric shape is quite unusual and it has been chosen both for the main indexes and the rim of the hours hand, between these two features lies the only applied Arabic number located at 12 o’clock.
The winding crown is protected by a "military bottle like device" that also represents the only reference to the first Frogman, it is quite a mechanic system that makes the crown a bit too small and difficult to move but that is quite original at the same time. Another stylish novelty is the rubber-made band that sports quite an unusual aesthetic treatment, it was as if someone had inserted an inside-out Velcro strap that seems almost perfectly smooth. The strap matches quite well the case and it features a generous buckle pin with an H-shaped buttonhole while the holes remind us of the professional Isofrane straps.
The rather imposing logo depicting a scuba diving mask is engraved on the back-case, slightly annoying when wrapped around the wrist and crafted more because of the willingness to create a tool watch rather than the need to get one, if you consider the size of the H-10 caliber, the “ETA-created-caliber-for-Hamilton” guaranteeing up to 80 hours of power reserve when the barrell has been fully wound. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman 46 retails for 1345€ and is a great diver's watch that I've wrapped 24/7 around my wrist and never used once for swimming yet.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®