Much like Tag Heuer, Hamilton is a brand that I have somehow never owned even though I often found myself enjoying their designs and even noticing them in TV and movie placements. Hamilton is actually a longstanding brand that can trace its roots back to 1892. They started building pocket watches in Pennsylvania and after making their first wrist watch in 1917, Hamilton was a major supplier of watches to the military. After World War II they produced the first electric watch, the Hamilton Electric 500, one of which is the style reborn as the watch seen in the Men in Black movie.
Fast forward to modern day and Hamilton is owned by the Swatch Group, a family that includes Omega, Tissot and even Blancpain. Hamilton has grown to be massively successful at marketing swiss watches with a strong tradition and swiss ETA movements (ETA is also part of the Swatch Group). Hamilton mixes its traditional, modern and military derived styling into many models spanning a large line up of automatic watches. In all of Hamilton’s current line up, there are few watches that embody Hamilton’s history like the Khaki Field line of military styled watches, loosely based on military field watches from WWII todays example is the Khaki Field Ref H70685337.
- 44 x 11.75mm
- 22mm lugs
- ETA 2824-2 lugs
- Sapphire crystal
- exhibition caseback
- Stainless steel
- 100m WR
- Rubber strap
- MSRP: $795
The 5337 Field is one of the larger non-chronographs that hamilton makes and it wears very large at 44mm across. It has no bezel to speak of so the dial is massive and I think would be worse if it weren’t for the 11.75mm height which keeps things manageable as far as cuffs are concerned. The brushed pvd case is very nice but doesn’t stand out in any way nor does the slightly oversized crown. The dial is beautifully detailed with an inner circle, 24hr scale and inlaid arabic markers. The date wheel is unfortunately black text on a white background and doesn’t work with the watch at all. It should be orange on black to match the 24hr scale it occupies. Timekeeping on this example, which was purchased used from a collectors forum, was a about +8 seconds a day on wrist. This was a reliable and repeatable measure and shows the level of accuracy that is normally seen on an ETA 2824-2 after its broken in with no additional regulation. The lume is not the rich orange as you might expect, the numbers are all a page green and the hands are a very light orange/yellow. The two colours are very close and the difference is seen and highlighted in the included photos, in real life its very close unless the lume is very well charged. I don’t know why they could not have just used the same color.
The Hamilton H70685337 comes in a black and silver wooden box mounted to a cushion, its very nice given the price range of the watch. The included strap is rubber, very soft, with a completely unnecessary croc leather pattern in it, I do not like it at all and believe it looks silly. The strap is otherwise great but Hamilton ruined it with that imprint and I would replace it as soon as possible with a simple black leather or plain rubber. What has happened here is Hamilton has tried to look classy but has come off as cheap. That is not the only problem with the H70685337, the sapphire crystal that protects the dial is domed, very domed, so it it constantly covered in reflections. It has no visible AR coating and might not be a high grade sapphire, either way the reflections are almost always present and very annoying. Its not a deal breaker, but its close, you cannot look straight at this dial without seeing the world around you. They should have used a flat crystal or one with plenty of AR. The 44mm size is too large for my taste, watches with no bezel are better suited to 42mm sizes on my 7.5 inch wrist. Hamilton makes a series of of Khaki Field watches available in 40 and 42mm.
These issues considered, Hamilton has succeeded in something special with this and many of their watches. They have made an affordable swiss automatic that, thanks to Swatch, can easily be found in stores to try on for yourself. You should be able to find a Swatch retailer in almost any large metropolitan area and you can sample their watches first hand before buying. With many automatics in this price range coming from independent brands with no brick-and-mortar presence its nice to see that retail environments can still help someone stick to a budget and get a swiss automatic. The H70685337 has an MSRP of $795 but should be discounted from there and can be found online from authorized retailers. With online prices hovering around $500 the H70685337 is good value given the recognizable name, workhorse movement, and classic Hamilton styling providing the oversized presence, silly rubber strap and reflective crystal dont push you towards a differnet model.
By James Stacey