Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminium Auto - "Simplify, then add Lightness" (C.Chapman)
Carbon fiber, ceramic, steel but aluminum too. If I consider this type of metal and its use in the production of high tech items, I immediately think about the Lotus Elise and the frame of a Yamaha R1 but I would probably not take aluminum into consideration if I were to craft a watch's case. Oddly enough, Hamilton has now managed to bring back in fashion and “dignify” this type of metal and use it for watchmaking following another luxury brand's idea (Bulgari used aluminum for its Aluminium); a trend that started, if I am not wrong, back in the 70s but that had never really picked up before.
When it comes to car-making and motorbike-making, aluminum is key in lowering the weight of items (mainly of unsprung masses), improving the weight/power ratio and balancing masses but when it comes to watch-making, aluminum is solely used for the crafting of the case and it represents a new way to re-interpret the classic watch by using a less noble and less known metal, while offering an alternative and lighter solution to steel cases, thus avoiding the use of more expensive materials (pending the drop in cost of industrially produced carbon fiber.)
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminium collection is clearly inspired by the world of aviation (where lightness and durability are basic requirements) and it was launched in 2014 in conjunction with the introduction of one of the new industrial calibers crafted by ETA; a company that officially provides and customizes all the calibers of the brands that are part of the Swatch Group.
The main difference between the type of aluminum used by Hamilton and the type of aluminum used by its competitors (again I am thinking about the Bulgari Aluminium) is that it is painted in four different shades; a usual practice when it comes to electronic items (like smartphones, tablets and laptops) and also when it comes to aftermarket accessories for motorcycling (like Ergal's accessories for instance). The colouring and the surface finishing are very nice to the touch and on the eye and their quality is a good step above the current brand's offering, they also provide a more than adequate protection level against those oxidizing processes that naturally affect even aluminum alloys.
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminium is 41mm wide, its case sports a double security feature that is used to protect the two crowns present on the right hand side, the upper crown is used to control the internal scale going up to 60 minutes to run countdowns, while the lower crown is used to adjust the date and the hours. The shape of the case with two built-in push buttons vaguely reminds us of the look of some diver watches from the past. The timepiece comes exclusively with a NATO strap to reinforce the strong link existing between the collection and the military world. The dial is a typical Khaki one but there are enormous differences between this watch and a Hamilton Khaki Office (I am talking about the first manual one produced by the manufacturer), including the sapphire glass that replaces here the Hesalite crystal.
The mechanical caliber used is the H10, the acronym clearly marks a dramatic evolution of the ETA 2824-2; a caliber that many of us are probably wearing at the moment but without even being aware of it. The powertrain has been improved and that means that the mechanic output has been improved too, it has been simplified and made more reliable, despite the already great base caliber's reliability, the efficiency of the spring has been updated too so as to allow up to 80 hours of power reserve.
Hamilton has smartly crafted the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminium collection in steel also to cater for all those people who think that aluminum is light but they still prefer their watches made of steel and with a metal strap. Three different versions of this collection have been launched (they cannot all be seen in these pictures but they are available on this link) with one of them featuring a leather strap and the other one featuring an integrated steel metal strap. I personally think that the best one of the three versions is the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Aluminium collection because this type of timepiece should definitely come with a NATO strap (sporting leather inserts) to fully express the brand's innovative spirit that can also be found in the competitive retail price of this timepiece; a retail price that lies within the 1,000 euro threshold.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter