Baselworld, thank goodness, is not exclusively about the most complicated, the most exclusive, the super expensive. There are relatively much more affordable, fun, and cool watches too, and when we covered the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman release a few moons back, I put it on my list of “must-see pieces at BaselWorld 2016.” See it we did, as James and I got to go hands-on – and so, without further ado, here’s an in-the-metal meeting with Hamilton’s new Frogman.
Offered in a 46-millimeter-wide titanium case, the new Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman falls right on the verge of purpose-built tool and totally unapologetic fun watch. Its massive proportions, huge crown lock, and bold indices make it shout “Look at me! I can do diving!” while, by stark contrast, its bright, in-your-face, red bezel and accents, “LOCK” designated crown protector, and its almost laughably small date window sticking out from the middle of the dial all render it such a cheerful and happy-looking thing that I am certain I could not manage to resist smiling when I lifted it from the table.
Attention to detail is on par with what one would expect to see from Hamilton – and goes to show the quality of execution relatively more affordable brands are capable of achieving today. All case components and especially the crown and its locking mechanism look terrific even up close, while the warm hue and smoothly polished surface of the titanium case further improve the wearing experience.
The lock is connected to the case through an armature that saves it from falling off when unscrewed. Underneath the large, Hamilton-logo-bearing external cup, a tiny little crown can be found that, other than being a little hard to grab and hence operate, works basically the same way as any other.
The bezel is more difficult to swallow – which turns out to be not only technically, but also metaphorically the case. Its insert is in metal and not in ceramic, and I’m sorry, but this Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman watch needs a ceramic bezel so badly, it makes me wish that I could turn metal into ceramic just by looking at it very hard. Since that I cannot do (although I did try my best), and especially since Hamilton told us that they are not planning to update the bezel material, we just have to accept that the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman is not getting a scratch-resistant bezel anytime soon.
This really is not the end of the world, though, when you consider the price point and everything else that you are getting. The case, although generously sized, is genuinely beautifully crafted, with its even, uninterrupted, deep sheen and clever combination of curves and sharp edges, making it really as good as large, bold dive watches get these days. It is also water resistant to a depth of 1,000 meters, and it features a helium escape valve on the left side of the case, in case you did manage to bring this Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman watch very deep under the surface.
Another cool detail is how the rubber strap is constructed. It appears to have a notched but smooth external frame and a slightly recessed, textured inner part. As we learned, the strap is in fact one solid piece only, with the middle section receiving some special surface treatment to create a soft, almost velvet- or velour-like area that not only makes the strap look more complex and higher quality, but less boring, too. We were curious to know if this design was as resistant and durable as other rubber straps, and Hamilton claims that these straps have been subjected to and passed all the same quality and durability tests that their other straps have. The strap is held in place by a rather unique, skeletonized tang buckle, also in titanium, that completes the look.
Under the solid titanium case-back – which boasts a navy frogman’s mask engraved on it for some extra bragging rights – is the Swatch Group’s H-10 movement. The H-10 is a modernized, refined version of the ETA 2824, and Hamilton claims it features the following updates to its ETA base movement:
- The entire kinematic chain has been refined, from the barrel to the escapement
- The escapement regulator has been suppressed, facilitating optimal reliability and precision
- The main spring has been improved to increase a typical power reserve of 80 hours.
- The mono-block rotor is distinctively skeletonized with an “H” shape and aviation-inspired cut-outs, a signature of individualization.
On the wrist, the 46-millimeter-wide Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman watch wears expectedly large – too large, in fact, on my small, 6.75″ wrist. Hamilton offers a smaller, 42-millimeter-wide version as well, but it only comes with black or blue bezels and accents (with color-matched rubber straps or a three-row steel bracelet). The smaller version offers 300 meters of water resistance and does away with the helium escape valve.
Still, the 46-millimeter-wide version’s red bezel does make it stand out and look the part in its very own and amusing way – too bad the red will not make it onto the smaller alternative. Price for the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman is $1,445 for the 46mm version and $1,095 for the 42mm version. hamiltonwatch.com