Topper Talk: The Surprisingly Robust $495 Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
The NoCal based retailer worked with Hamilton on a version of their Khaki Field which presents a rare face for fans of military-inspired timepieces.
For folks looking for a simple, no fuss-no muss timepiece, you can’t beat the clean, classic look of a military watch. And although I’m a vintage enthusiast, I realize that previously enjoyed watches come with some baggage — most were built to serve, but after 40, 50 or 60 plus years, authentic vintage timepieces are going to have some aches and pains.
Which is why I always try and point people who like the army-issued look to the new Hamilton Khaki Field. It has the rugged good looks of a mil-spec watch but made with the most up-to-date mechanisms so that it, too, will last for decades.
And now, with input from the team at Silicon Valley-based retailer Topper Jewelers, Hamilton created an extra special treat for Field Watchers — the new Khaki Field Mechanical White Dial.
Let’s turn back time a little. The Field watch has its origins in WWII, with the military spec A-11 Field Watch. These standard issue timekeepers were manufactured by four companies: Bulova, Elgin, Hamilton, and Waltham.
Hamilton has kept close ties with the military since 1945, and the Khaki Field has been a staple of the brand's collection ever since.
Topper has also been providing top grade timepieces to collectors and enthusiasts since the 1940s. And since its 75th anniversary in 2015, the store started collaborating with watch brands to introduce special limited 'Topper Edition’ pieces. White dials have been the hallmark of most of these editions. Starting with the sold-out limited edition Nomos Tangente and Zurich World Timer. Last summer, after the tremendous popularity of the black dial Khaki Field Mechanical, Russ and Rob Caplan were eager to get the white dial option as a pre-launch in their store.
While this white dial Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical isn’t officially a Topper Edition, it is available exclusively through Topper Jewelers for the next few months. Here’s why this watch represents a deep cut in Hamilton’s history.
Generally, when you think of a military watch, you think black dials. But it turns out that many of the earliest WWII era timepieces produced for servicemen and women had crisp white dials.
In fact, before the armed forces issued its specifications, many early Hamilton Army Ordnance Department watches were made with white dials. But even if the pale face isn't 100 percent historically accurate, it's still a subtle nod that the past that appeals to a more modern, elegant sensibility.
TOP OF THE TOPPER
Topper is offering three versions of this limited edition: The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical White Dial Box Set priced at $625; the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical White Dial Brown Leather NATO Strap ($525); and the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical White Dial Green Textile NATO Strap with brown leather loops ($495).
Each version features a matte white dial with easy-to-read black lacquered hour and minute hands with old radium-colored Super-LumiNova. The simple, 38mm stainless steel case houses an ETA H-50 mechanical movement with 80-hour power reserve. And as far as ruggedness goes, it has a sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 5 bar (50 m, 164ft).
The box set is the best value for your dollar as it comes with both versions of the NATO strap. You know, that one-piece strap that slides underneath the case. The NATO is so very popular right now not only because it looks good, but it's easy to change and is perfect for hot weather because it makes it so that your skin never touches the metal case of the watch.
These military-inspired straps were first introduced in 1973 when the British Ministry of Defense and their Standard (DefStan) introduced their military to the G10 watch strap (the original moniker for the NATO). The G10 was made from nylon, was 20mm wide, had a chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers, and was available only in Admiralty Grey.
Like the Khaki Field, NATO strap has gone through a few tweaks over time: it's now available in a broader range of sizes and colors. But the simplicity and functionality of both the rare white dial and the handsome NATO straps (and the value doesn’t hurt either) make The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical White Dial a real winner.