Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Pilot Auto
I welcome the trend of marques digging through their archives, looking for the next Diver 65 or Big Pilot. It gives people with smaller wrists, and who also like classic vintage designs, a lot more options.
Throw in the lousy market for luxury watches, which forces a little creativity out of the marques to deliver high quality, high value pieces. In essence, the market is thriving for the hardworking rabbits like us.
The market is choke full of carrots, and it's our time to nibble. The Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Pilot Auto is one of them. Following the success of the Khaki Pioneer Pilot Auto Chronograph, the brand who made history by providing instruments of the very first flight of the US Postal Service between Washington and New York, the Pioneer Pilot Auto pays homage to the British royal Air Force of the 1970s.
I think I'll start with the case. Measuring at 41 x 47mm, the case comes thicker on the right side to act as a crown protector for the two crowns at 2 and 4'O. Other than its practical purpose, the extended case also gives a smooth silhouette, proving that tool watches can also have nice curves.
Inside the handsome case sits a three layered dial. On the outer most is the rotating bezel with a countdown timer printed white against black. The main dial has green lume on the hands, 12 and 6'O, as well as lume dots at each hour mark. In between the two, in white, is the military 24-hour bezel. The balance of the monochrome gets a thumbs up from me.
The pilot watch comes with tremendous utility, and for people who love bi-directional bezel's like me, that's a big plus. The exciting thing about this is how Hamilton watch has a countdown bezel instead of the conventional elapsed time one. This gives the whole 5-4-3-2-1 lift off thing a really good feel, and adds to the whole pilot watch persona.
Last but not least, a mention of the modified ETA 2824 movement that powers the watch, which boosts the power reserve up to 80 hours. That's more than three days!
And did I mention that this watch comes at an extremely low price point?
The crown at 2'O controls the bi-directional bezel, which I personally use quite a bit of on my other watches. While I look forward to the countdown feature on this bezel, the fact that the crown is screwed down. That kind of reduces the usability of it for me, since that makes it harder to manipulate while on the wrist.
The H-10 movement, while providing 80 hours of power reserve, is lacking the decorations fitting of such a good movement. That Hamilton makes the effort to double the reserve on an ETA 2824 but neglects to execute any form of decoration is beyond me. The movement is bare but for the signed rotor.
One main feature of pilot watches is their legibility. This could have been increased with a more generous application of lume on the dial. The layer of luminova on the Khaki Pioneer Pilot Auto barely made a difference. I liken this to the amount of lume you see on Seiko dive watches - to thick they add a whole new dimension to the dials. Some amount of lume on the other arabic numerals wouldn't hurt too.
After putting the watch on my wrist, I couldn't stop thinking about this. The amount of watch that comes with the price tag makes this a great value buy for anyone looking for a well-designed, usable every day beater.
The watch comes in three references for the stainless steel case - black nylon nato, black leather with white stitching, and stainless steel bracelet. It also has four references available in anodized aluminum cases - black, blue, green and khaki.
Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Pilot Auto
ref. H76455133 Hamilton H-10 (modified ETA 2824) 21,000vph with 80hrs reserve 100m water resistance Central hour, minute and second hands
Date indicator at 3'O
Bi-directional countdown inner bezel 41mm stainless steel case Display caseback with signed rotor The watch was listed at S$1,520