Many watchmakers tout their aviation roots, but few go as deep as Hamilton’s. As early as 1918, the watchmaker was making timepieces for pilots as the official timekeeper for U.S. airmail flights between Washington, Philadelphia and New York. In the decades that followed, Hamilton watches proved to be indispensable to early aviators, aiding in Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s 1926 flight over the north pole, the first California-to-Hawaii flight a year later and commercial flights by TWA and United pilots in the 1930s. Now, after nearly 100 years of aviation history, Hamilton is still celebrating those high-flying timepieces with a series of modern pilot’s watches.
One of the most flight-ready watches in that arsenal is the Khaki X-Wind Auto Chrono, which features a mechanical H-21 movement inside (an enhanced version of the venerable Valjoux 7750) and the first-ever drift-angle calculator on a watch, which enables a pilot to calculate and record the crosswinds they’ll expect to experience on their flight. At 45mm in diameter, the Khaki X-Wind is robust and legible, and with its unique and ergonomic crown and chronograph pusher layout (on the left side of the case, with the pusher that engages the chronograph on the bottom), the watch’s functions are quick and easy to access. Best yet, with a stealthy black PVD case, it has an edgy look that complements its no-nonsense functions.
For enthusiasts looking for something less complex, the Khaki X-Wind is also available with a simpler day-date configuration, as well. The chronograph movement is gone, replaced with Hamilton’s H-30 automatic with a solid 80-hour power reserve. But the chunky 45mm case with PVD black coating remains (a stainless steel version is available as well), as do the drift angle calculator and legible dial with big, luminescent numerals.
Yet despite their mechanical movements, their features, and their rugged constructions, both iterations of the Hamilton X-Wind come at a completely reasonable price starting at $1,095+ for the X-Wind Day Date and $2,195 for the Auto Chrono. If you’re a pilot or just an aviation enthusiast, they’re fantastic tools for the money.