Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
Once upon a time...the Royal Air Force and the mil-spec W10 watches
We drove around Italy to find the proper photo-set to introduce the 2019 Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical (and its quartz sibling, the Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Chrono Quartz). I reckon the perfect place would have been an abandoned Royal Air Force military base since we are in front of a seventies-inspired and British-military worn timepiece, but that would have represented more than a challenge.
In those years, specifically from 1973 to 1976, the watchmaker from Lancaster provided the Royal Air Force with the Hamilton W10, a mechanical hand-wound watch geared towards the British army's pilots, and the last in a long series of wristwatches, like the Khaki Field, that are proudly on the wrist of veterans or currently on sale across the leading vintage marketplaces, ready to enrich the umpteenth military watch enthusiast's collection.
Military watches boast a wide following among collectors, and the Hamilton W10 is no different. It seems Hamilton adopted a "reverse engineering" approach, when designing the new Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, given its design and foothold are so faithful to the original.
Also, I personally have a soft spot for watches featuring a tonneau case, although this timepiece's overall size is a letdown, given my big wrist at least: it is clear that marketing managers and designers opted for a 1 to 1 replica of the original one, while replacing an almost fifty years old mil-spec product with a modern wristwatch, whose proportions have not changed: the case is 33mm high and 36mm tall.
If they crafted a slightly larger version while preserving the current length to width ratio (1,1), this watch would easily be my and many other enthusiasts' cup of tea, given it currently looks tiny on some wrists. You can otherwise opt for the bold Khaki Field Mechanical 50mm. Other than that, the "re-issue" project execution is flawless: the curved glass features an anti-reflective treatment, but it is mineral, not sapphire. The spec sheet is state-of-the-art, including the H-50 caliber that guarantees a long-lasting 80 hours of power reserve, and, most importantly, it is hand-wound, something that I approve.
Another nod to the Hamilton W10 is the fine-grained black dial, featuring no date window at all, and a nickel made seconds hand paired to cream-colored Super-Luminova® hour markers. If we traveled back in time, I'm pretty sure a 70s RAF pilot might hardly recognize old from new, the only hint being that arrow-shaped marking stating one of them has military specifications, something that's no longer required on the modern variant.
The W10 dates back to the seventies, yet history proves Hamilton Watch is a long-term military supplier, as confirmed by tons of wristwatches the brand has supplied to the American army, in the sixties, coded as MIL-W-46374 or GG-W-113, for example. The name W10 itself is a specification and not a Hamilton exclusive.
While stepping inside the old aircraft pictured on here, we also had a Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Chrono Quartz in our pocket; it is a modern quartz chronograph (that I strongly suggest Hamilton equip with a mechanical movement also, as soon as possible) that draws inspiration from asymmetrical case designed watches supplied to the British Ministry of Defense between the end of the seventies and the early eighties.
They're two new timepieces, pretty different from each other, with the hero unquestionably being the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, that Hamilton has strategically priced below the € 1,000 threshold (the Chrono Quartz retails for 560€ instead), and equipped with a modern hand-wound movement, a soft NATO nylon strap (with a leather strap option) and the historic logo that adds the cherry on the cake, bringing the watch's vintage look and feel to its full potential.
(Photo credit: Pasquale Contento for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®