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Hamilton Just Brought Back a Legendary Military Pilot's Watch

One of the all-time great pilot's chronographs gets a new life.


You've got to love a vintage military watch reissue done right. We do, anyway, and Hamilton absolutely nails it with their modern field watches and remake of their W10 — and now, the brand's 1970s pilot's chronograph joins the party as the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph.

Looking back from a modern watch nut's perspective, just about every watch made for 20th century military pilots is pretty cool: purpose-built with requisite legibility and accuracy, they brim with character and utility. Hamilton was among a few companies to make a certain watch for Britain's Royal Air Force in the late 1970s-'80s with the distinguishing feature of an asymmetric case: the right side of the case bulges out to offer extra protection to the crown and pushers.


Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph


It's now been reborn as a modern watch, and although this isn't a one-to-one facsimile of that vintage chrono, we love Hamilton's interpretation. Firstly, the brand resisted the urge to supersize it, as so many brands (Hamilton included) have sometimes done in reissuing vintage watches. We're happy about a 40mm diameter, staying close to the original proportions and keeping it easy to wear.

Like the original, Hamilton went with a manually winding movement rather than an automatic one. It's a wholly modern movement, though: the H-51-Si, featuring a silicon balance spring, 60 hours of power reserve and a chronograph that counts up to 30 mintues. Props, also, for choosing sapphire for the domed, retro-styled crystal. Patina-inspired lume color is often controversial, but we think Hamilton did it right here.

While the vintage reissue trend might be subsiding a little, this is still a great example and highly tempting. CWC is another company that made the original watches for the RAF, and if you want an even more "authentic" variation, you can get one of a modern limited edition from CWC that uses the original Valjoux 7733 movements inside (and even features the British "broad arrow" symbol) — but it'll cost you more than triple the price of this Hamilton.

The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Mechanical Chronograph isn't limited and you can get one directly from the brand online for $2,045.


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