The Hamilton Khaki 38mm automatic is undoubtedly a thing of simple beauty. It exudes quality and is masterfully understated. In some ways, at first glance, its simplicity seems hard to justify its price. There's little bling. It doesn't shout. It's nearly unnoticeable. It can appear unremarkable. But possibly this misses the point. It's easy to go large when buying any old watch in the 21st century. It's easy to go glitzy too. It's easy to find a watch of any conceivable style for less than 80 dollars. But if we start to consider these other things I implied at the beginning of this review as virtues (quality, undertstatement, simplicity) then 80 dollars won't actually buy those.
The elements that are integral to these qualities are costly, and together they also contribute to a whole which is greater than the sum of those parts. These are the costly tangible elements that compose this timepiece:
Automatic Handwinding Hacking Sapphire crystal Very high quality leather strap Beautifully brushed and polished steel Intricacy of face workmanship Timeless design Water resistance to 100M Accuracy Swiss made Subtle intricacy of dial finish
OK the elephant in the room for some is size. Can one wear 38mm watches today? Well the answer is yes, if one doesn't care too much about being noticed or having one's watch noticed. And for many being noticed is the whole reason for ownership. If on the other hand your reasons are timekeeping, private enjoyment and, well a little bit "looking understatedly stylish", then this still could work for you...
The thing is, it dresses up and down. It looks both dressy and casual in equal measure. With a crisp cotton cuff or T-shirt it works. In the office, in the pub, hiking up a Welsh mountain, it works. And part of what makes it work in all those contexts are where those costs I mentioned contribute to that extra value. A cheaper copy of this style of watch would not work in the office - the Timex Expedition just looks bulky, utilitarian and its finish is brutal. Sure, up that Welsh mountain, who cares? And if that were my only horological destination, a Timex might suffice. But it's not. I like to wear watch as an all-time companion that racks up my life experiences with me. So it's at the wedding, the office, the movies, the births, on holiday... And I don't want to be switching watches all the time to suit the occasion. (Sure, for dirty jobs and mountain biking, wear a g-shock though!)
You may also wish to argue that a Seiko 809 is a very close competitor. It's not. I had one and I returned it. Drably grey steel case, titchy and narrow lugs, barely perceptible crown and micro-font numbering. It seems puny and tinny in comparison.
There are some caveats on this. I have a smallish wrist at 6.5 inches. So on me this is, arguably, the equivalent of a 40mm on a 7.5 inch wristed person. The lugs make it wear bigger too. The crown adds a little too and the highly polished bezel gives it more presence. Subtle differences with a high quality execution that give it that extra something.
For you "accuracy guys" this is in my view simply astounding for a mechanical device. Seems to vary a few seconds a week at most (?) - I am not religiously testing this though.
This has surely to be the best value, most timeless, yet contemporary, Swiss automatic watch on the market right now. Hopefully it'll stay true and be something I can hand down one day, as time inexorably moves on. Tempus Fugit.
Yes. It's a beauty, in our day a tiny marvel as it is a 38 mm watch when most are 42 - and among those, a 38 with a discreet pilot's design is quite a glorious exception ! Good darkness visibility, too and can be worn as a dress watch. The strap is not forever, you might want a better-looking replacement from ankhstrap.com maybe one day, or maybe not. 100mtrs water resistance and a not-too-big date, that's average. But you get a great ETA 2824 automatic movement which should serve you a lifetime (though you should have it serviced every 7 years). All is the way it should be. Very wearable.
About seven years ago my daughter went to the USA and got me one of these. I've worn it ever since and what a fantastic bit of engineering it is. It has kept brilliant time to within 2 seconds a day,and is very comfy on the wrist. The only problem that I,ve encountered was the strap splitting, but after five or six years wear you can't grumble. I think its going to outlive me.