American Flyer

Hamilton celebrates 100 years of timing the skies

It is not a generally known fact, but Hamilton timepieces have played a significant role in early aviation. In fact, Hamilton made watches and instruments for notable flights in the early 20th century, such as Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s 1926 flight over the north pole and the first California-to-Hawaii flight just a year later.

Which is why to celebrate “100 years of timing the skies,” Hamilton is launching the 2018 Khaki Pilot collection, which brings together the very best of classic Hamilton aviation watches while adding a modern twist to the proceedings. And lined-up for takeoff is the updated Hamilton Khaki Pilot Auto Day Date, which mines Hamilton’s well-deserved reputation for making well-made, practical, and commercially viable (read: affordable) pilot’s watches.

The “aged” version of the Hamilton Pilot Day Date Automatic that was featured in the 2014 film Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey, the new Hamilton Khaki Pilot Auto Day Date carries over the 42 mm diameter steel case of the original, as well as the ultra-readable dial. The bold double-digit Arabic numerals of the minutes ring, and the inner hour ring with smaller Arabic numerals also make the transition.

Naturally, the day and date complications that made the first watch so practical to begin with are carried over as well. As do the bold sword-shaped hands semi-skeletonized to make practical use of the minute and hour rings. So everything seems business as usual? Not exactly, because the Khaki Pilot Auto Day Date almost looks like a completely different watch.

True, the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Auto Day Date takes flight with the same Calibre H-40 self-winding movement with a comfortable 80-hour power reserve that powered the previous watch. But everything from the case, the dial, the applied markers, the Super-LumiNova, even the strap has been re-worked to look vintage.

The case, for example, can not only be had in “regular” steel with a desert brown leather strap, but also treated in a soft-brown-colored PVD matched to a brandy brown leather strap for that proper “aged” look. A more contemporary model in full steel with a metal bracelet is also available to round out the third and final version.

On the now solid matte black dial, the linear grained 3D texture of the applied large minute numerals is replaced by solid sand-colored indexes and numerals that glow Super-LumiNova green in the dark instead of the faded tritium normally associated with vintage watches. Further, the colors of the smaller numerals on the inner hour ring can be had in either the same sand color or in bright red… the color to have as it contrasts nicely with the beige sand color of the rest of the indexes.

A nice design touch are the bold and semi-skeletonized sword-shaped hands that puts the outer and inner minute and hour rings to very good use. The minutes hand extends all the way to the indexes and is skeletonized on the inner end; while the shorter hour hand is skeletonized only at the outer tip so that each hour index can be seen through the hour hand as it passes over it.

Unfortunately, this, in combination with the lume, makes the hour hand look like a blunt club, which many people have an issue with. But, in our opinion, the fact they the watchmakers designed a simple but innovative way to make use of the inner hour ring is a big design plus.

Last but not least, this new collection also sees the next generation of Hamilton leather straps. Inspired by the leather flying jackets worn by military pilots, the rugged, weathered finish gives the straps the appropriate “lived-in” look. And with the hot stamping on the desert brown and brandy colored leather that blends nicely with the brown hues of the cases and dials, they definitely look the part.