Josh G. was the winner of our September 2014 Hamilton watch giveaway and has come back with this watch winner review – for that we thank him and recognize his passion for the art. Please see our current aBlogtoWatch giveaway for Maurice Lacroix Pontos S dive watch here.
First, thank you Ariel Adams and aBlogtoWatch for sponsoring the monthly watch giveaways. Also, thank you Hamilton for generously providing this watch for the September giveaway.
After a week of owning the Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date, I still remain impressed with the overall fit and feel of this piece. This watch definitely was handsome right out of the box and set a strong first impression with me. This is my first aviator style watch and my first Hamilton. I will try and keep my observations as objective as possible. My background with Swiss watches is rather short… I own one other Swiss automatic, a dark face Victorinox Officer’s Day Date, so some of my observations are based off of my experience with that piece, since both of these watches offer similar features. I purposely chose the silver face with brown leather band to compliment my Victorinox. If I already didn’t own the dark faced Victorinox I would have picked the dark faced Hamilton with the steel bracelet… that watch is sharp!
The Hamilton Brand
Hamilton is a major jewel in the SWATCH brand crown. As a brand, they do a very good job advertising the style, quality, and American history, and how this influences their current products. When I was shopping for my first moderately priced Swiss Watch, Hamilton was at the top of my list. I’m a big fan of their products from a style/price standpoint, and during my decision process, I made a point to get hands on with as many models as possible. Getting hands on with a Hamilton is a relatively easy affair since they have decent market saturation. My final decision on my first Swiss watch hinged between purchasing a Jazzmaster Day Date and the Victorinox Day Date. The Victorinox won due to the final price point, though after wearing this Hamilton, I believe I would have been happier with the Hamilton in terms of overall build quality.
The Watch Dial
The Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date is a large and easy to read watch. I really appreciate that the majority of the watch’s face is dedicated to large easy to read hands and indicators. The silver background is quite stunning. The brushed silver has an almost pearlescent quality. The inner index has painted hour numbers with 30 and 15 minute dashes. These are in a relatively small type face, but are easy enough to read. The primary index uses raised numbers indicating the seconds/minutes. The numbers are raised about a millimeter off of the silver background and finished with a serrated/aggressive brushed finish giving these indicators plenty of contrast compared to the silver background. These raised minute/second indicators really make this watch special. The day and date indicators are black text on a white background and are cut into the primary and secondary indexes at the 12 and 6 positions. At the 12 position is the prerequisite pilot’s triangle indicator without looking compressed. The outer index has tick marks for the minutes and seconds, which I believe are painted onto the silver background.
The hands complement the pilot style watch and reach deep into the face making total use of the space provided. The hour hand is skeletonized at the tip allowing an easy view of the date window and inner hour index indicators, and the body of the hand is filled with a generous portion of Superluminova. The minute hand is skeletonized in the body of the hand, with the tip filled with Superluminova. The second hand is a long arrow with no luminant applied. All of the hands have a brushed steel finish. Note the picture of the lume and the lack of application on the outer index. The luminant works well and after many hours on my nightstand I am still able to make out the time, though, a bit of lumination at the 12 position would be helpful for orientation in low light conditions.
For as much as I like this dial, I think there is room for improvement. My biggest complaint is, not counting the Hamilton logo, there are three different fonts used on the dial. In such a small space, I cannot help myself from picking up on this font issue. Hamilton is certainly not alone with the multi-font usage, but since Hamilton is part of Swatch, and Swatch owns ETA, then why can they not make their designs more uniform? My second complaint builds off of the first, and that is, why can’t the colors between the silver dial and the day/date indicators better match? I’m sure it would add a slight expense, but making the colors/fonts more uniform would be a great way for the SWATCH Group to flex their supply line to create a superior product.
The Watch Case and Crystal
The stainless steel case measures 42mm wide not counting the crown, and the watch band lug width is 20mm. From lug to lug, I measure this case at 49 mm in length. The case and crystal together are about 11mm thick. The case features a mix of brushed and polished finishes offering a nice level of contrast between the two. After a week of daily wearing, I do not see a single scratch on a polished surface, so I believe Hamilton got this mix right with the brushed surfaces in places that see more wear. The crown measures 6 x 3mm and the crown guards do an excellent job of protecting the crown while still allowing easy access to adjust the time. The watch has a display back case that is a pry-off design with four screws for security. The crystal is sapphire with a slight dome. The crystal’s dome is so slight that it probably does not rise more than a half a millimeter above the bezel. The ever so slight dome adds a warm appearance to the watch dial and was a welcome and surprising feature that was not mentioned anywhere in Hamilton’s descriptions online. I added a photo of an extreme angle of the crystal to highlight the dome. I cannot comment on the anti-reflective finishes on this crystal… nothing is advertised, but readability, even in bright light, is easily accomplished, and glare is minimal.
The watch has a ETA 2834-2 movement. Other than the Hamilton logo engraved on the rotor, there is nothing special about it. Plain Jane, but functional. After owning two variants of the day/date ETA movement, I have to say that I like the accuracy, the ability to hand wind, and the snappiness of the day/date indicator changes exactly at midnight. The advertised 40 hour reserve is fine for a daily wear watch, but if you are like me and take your watch off on the weekend, then you will have to wind and set the watch again on Monday. This is a sort of ritual for me, and I can set the time day/date quite quickly at this point, so it is not a big deal. Letting the watch run out weekly does impact my ability to observe long term accuracy, but from Monday through Friday, I see no noticeable discrepancy.
The Watch Strap
Boy, this strap was stiff initially. After a week, it broke in quite nicely. Hopefully, after a month, it will be fully conformed to my wrist. This is the first leather strap I’ve owned, so I do not know what is average for stiffness out of the box. The fit and finish of the strap is quite impressive. The brown leather is quite dark, but it matches well with my brown leather belts and shoes. After a week of wear, there is no noticeable wear on the leather, so I believe that the quality of the leather and the dying is quite high. The stitching is flawless. An interesting and unexpected feature was the “H” buckle used on the strap. The “H” buckle design both looks sharp and works well on this strap. Sizing the watch is easily done, even with the double row perforation on the strap… the top of the “H” always slides right in. The strap offers quite a bit of adjustment, and should fit wrists 6 1/4 to 7 3/4 of an inch. For comparison, my wrist measures 6 3/4 of an inch. I do have one complaint regarding the strap though… I am afraid to remove it for fear of damaging the leather at the lugs. The strap fits so snugly between the 20mm wide lugs that there is zero clearance for a strap removal tool without prying (and potentially damaging) the leather or lugs. This watch screams “NATO me,” but alas, it will have to wait until this strap is ready for a replacement. It would have been great if the case had drilled lugs or a millimeter or so of space to work with at the lugs.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date Review Conclusion
Minor complaints aside, I think you really cannot go wrong with this Hamilton for an everyday-wear watch. At 42mm in width, it is a large watch for my wrist… definitely towards the top of the scale of what is wearable for me, but not overpowering. Day date watches are not for everyone, but I like one for a daily wear piece. Overall I am quite proud to add this watch to my small but growing collection. I hope to see many years of service out of this piece. Thanks again to Ariel and Hamilton for the opportunity to wear and review this watch. Good luck to you future monthly giveaway contestants. hamiltonwatch.com/