Hamilton W10 AKA Khaki Pilot Pioneer – view the full range of Hamilton watches on AMJ Watches here.
I seem to have become cynical when I read, or hear, that another well established brand has released yet another military vintage re-edition. Any new addition to this already bloated market would need to be very special for me to take interest.
This is why I am delighted to introduce you to the new Hamilton W10 re-edition. This watch has an interesting story to tell, as most re-editions do to be fair, a fantastic movement and an affordable price point that puts most other luxury brands to shame.
However, the initial appeal is the triumphant aesthetics.
Images courtesy of Hamilton
The W10 was originally requested by and supplied to the Royal Air Force between 1973 and 1976. W10 was a nomenclature that was assigned to a certain type and level of equipment from the MOD for Army, Navy and Royal Air Force. Therefore, Hamilton were not the only watch brand creating a W10 timepiece. CWC and Smiths were also requested to create similar items.
Image courtesy of Hamilton
The case is a reflection of this period. I think my reticence towards military editions is derived through the homogeny in case design of the 1940s. Stark dials in round cases are too ubiquitous now. This lack of design freedom was as a result of the strict specifications imposed by the particular military groups. In all fairness, every watch collector should own one of the most famous of these variants, a Dirty Dozen. But only one. There are twelve manufacturer’s offerings to choose from. As you can see below, you’d be hard pushed to tell which manufacture you were looking at if it wasn’t for their own logo.
The case on the W10, on the other hand, looks like it has been lovingly whittled into shape and then hand finished. It hasn’t been, of course, because the price point defies this. But, it is a nice illusion.
Speaking of what is possible at this price point: the double box glass would be financially crippling if it was made of sapphire glass. Instead this is a more sensible hardened mineral glass. In some aspects this is easier to live with day by day because it can easily be refurbished when you get the inevitable small marks and also you get much less surface reflections as you do with sapphire glass. Hamilton’s belt and braces attitude further adds double side anti-reflective coating anyway. The reflection free legibility allows the wearer to indulge in the symmetrical, textured dial and faux patina swords hands. The dial is completed by a traditional train track outer ring.
The pseudo in-house H-50 movement is hand wound and offers 80 hours power reserve. This is achieved mainly by reducing the cadence of the movement. Concerns could be forgiven in thinking that this would affect the accuracy. However, I own one of the standard Khaki Field watches, with this movement, and it maintains 2 seconds per day. Despite this being my beater of choice and being subjected to climbing, road cycling, mowing and mountain biking. So, through my own experience you would only have the benefits of the impressive power reserve, which is double that of the standard, without any of the drawbacks.
The movement is hand wound with a simple three hand configuration, perfectly mirroring the original. Speaking of which, the case size is also a relevant 36mm x 33mm.
This wonderfully crafted marvel is also water resistant to 100m giving further peace of mind as a daily wearer.
And why would you not want to wear this watch daily. It looks amazing and sits very comfortably on all wrist sizes. Most of this can be contributed to the NATO straps on offer. I confess that I am not a fan of NATO straps. They seem over complicated and overpriced normally. The standard Hamilton NATO strap is fairly generic, but this is not a bad thing, given that I am in the minority and they are very popular. However, I love the leather NATO strap option. It’s slightly more expensive but definitely worth it. Normally, leather straps are married to dress watches to add an element of luxury. This would not be pertinent with a utilitarian timepiece such as the W10. The immediate simplicity of the leather NATO strap, however, looks like it has been hand made in the field as a make do replacement. However, closer inspection, as you would expect, highlights that the austerity of the strap hides very nice detail and finishing. If you prefer the standard NATO, and why not because it is a reflection of the original, it is a cut above the usual with a leather shroud around the holes for an added bit of luxury and strength.
Images courtesy of Hamilton
Once again Hamilton has defied all economical logic with their latest covetable timepiece. I defy you to find a watch with this level of specification for the asking price of £720 on NATO and £770 on leather.
The hand wound quasi in-house movement with 80 hours power reserve punches above its price point. As does the hand finished tonneau case. As does the intricately textured dial. As does the level of finishing which, despite there being no polished edges, is still meticulously applied.
Value for money doesn’t get us across the line in a luxury watch purchase. The W10 is still relatively expensive against what a watch can be bought for at your local flea market. So, we need to want the W10. Thankfully, there are desirable elements abound. Chief amongst them is the aesthetics that have been transposed over 50 years with consummate sympathy. However, the W10 isn’t just an exercise in existentialism for the original. It is a covetable timepiece in its own right and, unlike most re-editions, does not rely on the history of the original to create desirability.
So, thankfully, the W10 is a desirable luxury item with fantastic value proposition.
What’s not to like. I’ll take one on the leather.
All words by Richard Atkins. All images by the author unless credited. This article may not be reproduced in part or in whole without permission of the author.