The Hamilton Khaki Field series has a long and storied history ranging from military-issued watches to the today’s consumer models. Hamilton has been expanding the line in recent years and bringing back fan favorites like the manual-winding Khaki Mechanical. The comparison can be made that the Khaki series is the Tudor Black Bay for Hamilton, although the former predates the latter. It’s a money-maker for the brand and it’s easy to see why.
The Khaki King is undeniably the black sheep of the Khaki Field family. It is often overlooked, especially when compared to the standard Khaki Field 38mm and 42mm models. Hamilton is looking to add a modern touch to the existing Khaki King lineup with a PVD-coated version. Let’s take a closer look.
On the Wrist
The standard Khaki Field 38/42mm and Khaki Mechanical models don’t fit my wrists quite right. The cases are a little flat and the lugs are relatively long which is a recipe for an awkward-fitting watch on my wrist. The Khaki King at 40mm solves that problem with a more dramatic turn-down in the lugs. This brings the 49mm lug-to-lug down in size a little to create a watch that wears true to its 40mm diameter. I felt it wore like the 38mm Khaki Field but sat better on my wrist.
One thing that brands tend to do when adding a PVD coating to an existing model is change other aspects of the watch, mainly the dial. Dials are usually blacked out to coordinate with the PVD coating which can often create a watch that is unreadable. Hamilton kept the dial from the stainless steel Khaki King, which is a no-nonsense legible dial. It’s a different take on the Khaki Field dial and adds the day/date complication at 12 o’clock. The numerals stand out even more than they do on the stainless steel version as they contrast with the PVD case.
There are a few things that make a great field watch. Legibility is paramount and not an issue on the Khaki King as I outlined above. Field watches also need to be unobtrusive on the wrist, be somewhat water resistant (but not dive watch-rated), and versatile. The Khaki King ticks all those boxes. It comes in at 11mm tall with a wrist-to-crystal measurement of 10.5mm. It’s there when you need it and fades into the wrist when you don’t. The 50-meter water resistance rating gives enough security for a swim in a pool or shallow water, which is all that is needed for a field watch. The monochromatic color scheme also gives the ubiquitous title of strap monster. What more can you ask for?
The Khaki King is a masterclass in creating a dial that looks simple yet packs detail, depth, and complications. The standout feature of the dial is the day/date complication at 12 o’clock. Day/date complications aren’t uncommon, but placing them at 12 o’clock is. I like the execution of it, but I wish the numerals weren’t cut off. Hamilton obviously needed to customize the day wheel and should have adjusted the size of the font so the window cutout could be smaller and not cut off the numerals. With that said, I like the placement of the day/date. It is easy to see at a glance and that is exactly what you want from this complication.
Hamilton uses its classic Arabic numeral dial layout on the Khaki King and as I mentioned above, it is built for legibility. The stylized hands allow the wearer to quickly look at the watch and read the time. This is a style that Hamilton has been using on the Khaki Field series for years and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Flanking the inside of the numerals is a 24-hour track for those who like to quickly reference military time.
Underneath the numerals are concentric rings that add some depth to the dial and separate the numerals from the inside and outside tracks of the dial. The rings are nearly invisible until the light hits the dial just right, and then these rings pop. The outside of the dial contains the hash marks and minute numerals at 5-minute intervals. There is a lot of information packed into this dial without it feeling cumbersome or busy.
Case & Strap
PVD cases present a different approach as far as reviewers are concerned. They are almost like bead-blasted cases, where finishing isn’t really the standout feature of the case. The PVD coating has a satin finish and almost leans towards glossy. It isn’t shiny per se, but it has a sheen to it that would make it stand out if it was put next to a bead-blasted case.
The design of the case is well-executed and what we’ve come to expect from the affordable tool watch segment of the Swatch Group. The fixed bezel’s proportions to the case and dial are spot on, as are the crown guards compared to the crown. The crown sticks out past the crown guards to provide the wearer with a little grip to pull the crown. The crown itself is a good size and has a tactile feel to it when setting the date and time. This is all indicative of a brand who has been designing field watches for decades.
Inside the case is the Hamilton H-10 movement. Essentially a modified ETA movement, the H-10 provides 80 hours of power reserve and a custom rotor. While I appreciate the extra power reserve offered (albeit it is something I will never take advantage of), I don’t like how Hamilton got there. The beat rate is slowed from 28,800 vph to 21,600 vph. This isn’t a noticeable different to the casual wearer, but when there are manufacturers putting out longer power reserves without sacrificing beat rate, I’d like to see Hamilton do the same.
A leather strap is provided with the Khaki King and while it is a nice strap, it isn’t anything special (stock leather straps on affordable models usually aren’t). I was surprised to see Hamilton go with a 2-piece leather strap as opposed to something more… tactical. The 38mm Khaki Mechanicals come on amazing NATO-style straps and Hamilton has an arsenal of canvas or other textile straps to choose from. That being said, the stock strap is perfectly fine and is comfortable out of the box.
I’ve owned several watches in the Khaki Field family. Most of them left my collection rather quickly for reasons I outlined in the beginning. Their proportions were off for my wrist or something just didn’t sit right. The Khaki King PVD is the one I would pick if the Khaki Field collection were laid out in front of me. It sits with the perfect 40mm case size, has better-shaped lugs, and offers a unique dial layout. I won’t say the Khaki King PVD is the best in the Khaki Field family, but it definitely is the one that Hamilton put the most effort into.
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Hamilton Khaki King PVD Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal