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Tough Time: Hamilton Field Khaki Expedition Watch Review

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When the Desert Dogs Offroad Adventures guide handed me the neck gaiter and told me I’d need it for the dust, I knew things were about to get real.

I was not surprised, but when you roll out to the Arizona desert to drive side-by-sides, you don’t usually have a $950 watch strapped on as your test gear. Then again, the Hamilton Field Khaki Expedition is no ordinary watch.

In a single day, I pressed the Hamilton Khaki Expedition into some legitimately tough service. First, on a bumpy, dusty, 2-hour ATV drive through the desert, and next on a gentle rafting trip that saw me swimming in the ice-cold Salt River for a good long spell on the 100-degree day.

All this on the invite of Hamilton, a watch brand built largely on the reputation of its iconic field watches.

What follows are my impressions of one of the finest field watches money can buy, yet one that costs less than $1,000.

In short: The Hamilton Field Khaki is an iconic field watch that has earned its stripes. With a history that goes back to 1892, Hamilton has deep roots in military service. This shows in the Field Khaki Expedition version, an automatic timepiece that can withstand the rigors of real-world adventure. The Field Khaki Expedition looks good, is easy to read, and wears comfortably.

Check out our guide to the best field watches.

  • Reference number
  • Case size
  • Lug size
  • Movement
    H10 Automatic
  • Case Material
    Stainless steel
  • Strap color
    Various, leather and metal
  • Water resistance
    100 meters

  • Iconic design

  • 80-hour power reserve

  • Deep historic roots

  • On the expensive end of utilitarian field watches

Hamilton Khaki Expedition Review

I used the Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition hard for a day, and it shined. After a super-dusty ATV tour and a couple of hours of swimming, the rugged yet handsome wristwatch looked as good as new, besides some sunscreen smeared on the band.

So let’s back up. How has the Hamilton Field Khaki line earned so much street cred among watch enthusiasts and adventurous users?

First, it has a storied history going back to military service since 1917. You can learn about the details here, but suffice it to say it’s seen a lot of combat.

What makes an ideal field watch? It needs to be easy to read, day and night. It should have a simple face and fit under a shirt cuff. The strap needs to be strong. The crystal and bezel should handle hard knocks and bumps, and it needs to work when wet, even for swimming.

The Field Khaki Expedition watch is built to handle this kind of hard use. The version I tested is water-resistant to 100 m, sealed against dust and debris, and has a tough sapphire crystal.

The case is stainless steel, and it has a screw-down crown. These specs are the foundation of a capable field watch, and many meet these requirements.

Where the Khaki Field Expedition Auto goes further is its movement. Hamilton’s H-10 automatic movement offers an exceptional 80-hour power reserve, which is great for a watch in this price range.

The fact that you can leave the watch on a nightstand for more than 3 days means you can take it off on a Friday night, and it’ll still be running on Monday morning. And in the world of automatic watches, that’s a very good spec, on par with much more expensive watches.

The movement is also quite accurate, at least in my testing. It has lost a little more than a minute in 7 days of regular wear. While not quite chronometer-accurate, it’s darned close.

Hamilton Field Khaki Expedition: Variations on a Theme

Hamilton goes deep on field watches. There are dozens of models, including mechanical, quartz, and automatic (tested) movements. The brand builds several versions of each of these, but probably the most iconic is the Field Khaki.

The “Expedition” version enhances utility by adding a compass bezel. This allows the user to find cardinal directions using the sun and watch hands (just point the hour hand at the sun, and then spin the bezel so the “S” splits the difference between the hour and 12 o’clock (that’s south if you’re in the northern hemisphere).

It’s available in 37mm and 41mm versions. I tested the 41mm and found it wears comfortably even on my modest wrist (6.75 inches). It weighed a verified 2.93 ounces, including a NATO strap. It’s not heavy but does have a nice heft.

Hamilton Field Khakis come in several colors, including black, navy, and white faces. I tested a navy blue face with a blue NATO strap and loved the combination. It’s a handsome watch available in many configurations, including on a stainless bracelet. But as it’s a field watch, the NATO strap is the most logical choice of material.

Who It’s For

So now the tough question: Should you buy one?

I would not hesitate to recommend the Hamilton Field Khaki Expedition. It’s a gorgeous field watch and, in this category, as iconic as they come. But I would offer some caveats.

If you will really beat it up, I may look for a less expensive option. Vaer and Bertucci make excellent quartz field watches at a price that won’t make you cry if you bang them up. While the Hamilton Field Khaki Expedition is a durable watch, it still costs $1,000. That’s a significant investment and one you may not want to hand-jam into a granite crack while rock climbing.

Then again, it’s entirely capable of rugged outdoor use. My brief testing proved this watch can handle swimming, dust, and the shock and vibration of ATV driving. With a 2-year warranty, I am confident this watch will meet the needs of adventurous users.

As an automatic Swiss watch for everyday wear, the Hamilton Field is priced at a value point. It’s a reliable, pretty watch that will happily accompany you on your day off and your in-office days.

For many wearers, it will check most of the boxes of history, appearance, and function needed to become a daily driver. If that’s you, it’s a perfect field watch.

Read the full article here

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