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