Hamilton Evokes its Aviation Heritage with New Khaki Pilot Pioneer Pilots’ Watches


Hamilton Khaki Pilot PioneerHamilton Watch Co., founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, began making watches for pilots shortly thereafter, in 1919. The brand’s new collection of pilots’ watches, called Khaki Pilot Pioneer Auto Chrono, bears the influence of its early aviation watches. WatchTime got a close-up look at the watches at the EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, “the world’s greatest aviation celebration.”

Hamilton watches have been a staple of aviation since the early 20th century, when they were used to time the first American airmail service, and by the 1930s had become the official watch of the TWA, Eastern, United, and Northwest commercial airlines. Hamilton was a partner in the first American coast to coast air services and, in the 1920s, its Hamilton 992 model made history as the watch worn by Admiral Byrd in his flights over the North and South Poles. In recent years, Hamilton became a timekeeping sponsor of the EAA AirVenture event — America’s largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts, held each year at Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport — and this year the brand also will be an official partner of the Free Flight World Masters Tour in France and Germany. Hamilton has its own plane — adorned with the brand logo and its hallmark orange-black-white color scheme — performing aerobatic stunts at the AirVenture; its pilot, champion stunt pilot Nicolas Ivanoff, is a Hamilton brand ambassador.

Hamilton Watch Co. aerobatic plane
The Hamilton aerobatic plane (above) and its pilot, Nicolas Ivanoff (below)

Hamilton Pilot Nicolas Ivanoff

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer on dashboard

The vintage watches that most directly inspired the new Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Chrono were created in the 1970s and worn by the British Royal Air Force. Hamilton designed the watches’ dials for maximum legibility in all lighting conditions, with bold Arabic numerals and hour indices coated with Super-LumiNova; on the black dial versions, the numerals and indices are white; on the ones with ivory-colored dials, they are in black. The 41-mm, stainless steel case of the Khaki Pilot Pioneer has an asymmetrical design with a protected crown and chronograph pushers. The sapphire crystal, like that of its 1970s predecessor, is domed, and is treated with nonreflective coating. Sandblasted elements on the case also aid in preventing glare in a cockpit (or any other environment). The case is water-resistant to 100 meters.

The movement in this new Hamilton pilots’ watch is the newly developed, proprietary Caliber H-31, based on the reliable ETA Valjoux 7753 (movement-maker ETA is Hamilton’s sister company in the Swatch Group). An automatic chronograph movement with a 60-hour power reserve, Caliber H-31 is visible through a sapphire window in the caseback. There are six versions of the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Auto Chrono overall, all pictured below: with either a black or ivory dial; on a three-row steel bracelet with brushed and polished finishes; on an aviator-style black leather strap; and  — as the collection’s name implies — on a military-inspired, khaki-colored textile strap. The watch will retail for $1,845 in the U.S.

Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76416135
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76416155
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76416735
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer ref. H76416755
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76456435
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Pioneer Ref. H76456955
2 Responses to “Hamilton Evokes its Aviation Heritage with New Khaki Pilot Pioneer Pilots’ Watches”

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  1. I just purchased this watch with the black face and stainless steel bracelet. Overall, I am EXTREMELY satisfied with my purchase!

    Before making my purchase, I did a lot of research into Swiss chronographs. My first choice was the Omega Speedmaster ’57 with their proprietary co-axial movement, second, the Speedmaster Racing with co-axial movement. Since both of these watches were out of my price range, I was forced to consider the world of Swiss watches with either a Valjoux or Sellita movement – modified or unmodified. I have heard bad things about Sellita so I eliminated all Sellita chronographs. After comparing features, finish, value, movement modifications, and style, I decided that Hamilton offered – hands down – the best watch with the most value at the best price.

    This particular watch features Hamilton’s Caliber H-31 movement which is a modified Valjoux 7753. Although the movement finish is nothing extravagant, Hamilton did include some custom detailing which is visible from the clear caseback. Also, the styling is very tradition and understated which means this is a watch that will look stylish in 10 years or more. I made the mistake of buying a trendy Swiss watch in the past and greatly regret it today as I am literally embarrassed to be seen with it on.
    Finally, I think owning this watch represents diligence in watch buying. Hamilton is a brand with deep watch pedigree and with Swatch Group and ETA providing R&D (the best in the business), Hamilton is a “smaller” discovery brand with serious money backing the brand.

    In conclusion, unless you are interested in buying a Swiss chronograph with a proprietary in-house movement, I would recommend that you explore Hamilton – more specifically, the Khaki Pilot Pioneer in all stainless steel with black face!

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  2. The Hamilton should also try a blue dial on this watch. They r great looking

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