Hamilton’s military-inspired line of watches, the Khaki Field, receives an essential addition to its roster this Autumn, the Expedition. What differentiates the Expedition from its stablemates is the addition of an easy-to-use compass bezel and a screw-down crown, ensuring 100 meters of water resistance.
Hamilton hopes to offer you a perfect watch for your daily life and when adventure comes calling. Has Hamilton succeeded here, or is this just another watch in a vastly oversaturated market filled with big and small brands all stepping over each other’s toes in hopes of you parting with your hard-earned income?
Let’s find out.
On The Wrist
We received both the 37mm and 41mm Expeditions for review, and both do a stellar job while on errands and while on an unmarked trail in the woods. Understandably, the 37mm wore smaller and piqued the interest of enthusiasts to whom I showed the watches. The 41mm seemed to have been favored by non-enthusiasts, regardless of gender, height, or wrist size.
On my wrist, I preferred the look of the 41mm watch while wearing a t-shirt, but the 37mm while wearing a dress shirt and a blazer. You basically cannot go wrong with either choice. If you are having trouble deciding, it is safe to look at what watch size you prefer to wear normally and choose along those lines. It should be noted that because the negative space on the dials and the bezels add a fair amount of visual weight, both watches wear a millimeter larger than their measurements suggest. For instance, every enthusiast I handed the 37mm model immediately said they preferred its 38mm dimension.
The Khaki Expeditions are both versatile watches that can easily worn to almost any circumstance, and the comfort and quality they bring to the table will result in you not regretting wearing one on any given day.
Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition Specs
37 & 41mm
43.5 & 48mm
10.45 & 11.5mm
20 & 22mm
Case, Bracelet, and Strap
The quality of the watch is what makes it stand out amongst its vast competition. The perfectly brushed cases match the surprisingly stout bracelet and clasp. The leather strap seen here has a well-oiled luster that one immediately associates with fine leather. The bracelet is the star among the two, however. The solid links articulate immaculately, and the solid-milled clasp feels bulletproof. Featuring three micro-adjustment holes, getting this watch to fit perfectly should not be an issue. I am glad that Hamilton did not follow the trend of offering an adjustable clasp like on many similarly priced watches. The strength, security, and simplicity of this design result in this field watch being more successful in the field.
The crown screws in and out with authority and is a joy to wind. There is no unpleasant wobble when fully extended. The Khaki Expedition feels like a watch you can pass down as an heirloom to many future generations. This is where Hamilton succeeds in 2023, when all products are disposable, mechanical watches and certain mechanical cameras by Leica remain as the sole products that you can buy today and keep servicing in the decades that are to come.
Movement and Bezel
Powered by the H10 automatic movement, Hamilton provides an easy-to-live-with movement at this attractive price range. With its 80-hour power reserve and anti-magnetic properties thanks to its Nivachron balance spring, it is hard to find any fault with choice.
The H10 in these two watches easily stands above similarly priced movements from Seiko and Miyota in terms of refinement in operation.
The bi-directional bezel operates with similar precision. The protruding squared headings at North, East, West, and South give ample purchase to move it into place. Even though I spend a fair amount of time in the woods, I have never needed to use a compass bezel, for I either have a dedicated compass or use the one on my Garmin while on extended trail runs. However, having such a compass would benefit those who only venture out of the city on the weekends. Simply set the bezel to the hour hand, and the halfway point between the hand and 12 is south if you’re in the northern hemisphere and north if you are in the southern hemisphere. It’s that simple. This is an excellent option if your compass becomes damaged or you forget it in your vehicle.
Dial and Hands
The first thing most people said they liked was the hour hand. While the minute’s hand uses a syringe design, common amongst military watches, the hour hand slightly deviates from tradition. A broad arrow is added to the tip of the hand, which gives the watch a very outdoorsy presence and stance.
Everything about these hands and dial are purposeful. Legibility is perfect on both watches, and the second’s hand quietly goes about its job, only to be called upon when needed. They contrast with the dial accordingly as well: black hands with the white dial and white hands with the black dial.
Aiding in legibility when the sun sets is the surprisingly powerful luminescent paint on the hands and the dial. Most of us are accustomed to beige-colored luminescent paint being weaker than its traditional white or green colors, but in this application, they burn beautifully. The white dial variant, in particular, comes alive and becomes very eye-catching when the lume is burning brightly. These are beautiful watches regardless of the environment they are placed in.
I was not expecting to have liked these two Hamiltons as much as I do. There is a space in the market that can be best described as “department store luxury,” and Hamilton occupies this space. Naturally, they lose some of their allure as you walk past a Hamilton display case while on your way to pay for your shoe polish, which is unfortunate.
The quality and execution of the Khaki Field Expedition is exemplary. I would have no reservations about buying one of these watches for myself and recommending it to others. Knowing that you have the might of Swatch Group and their terrific aftersales services cements such a decision.
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