Hamilton has a full archive of classic American military watch designs from which to pull — and they does so often. Their latest is a model based on not a wristwatch, as you might guess, but on a pocket watch, the Model 23 — one of the coolest from the WWII period, if you ask me. Thankfully, in crafting their homage, the modern brand chose to downsize the design to a more wearable 38mm from the original 50mm.
Powered by the ETA 2801-2 with 80-hour power reserve, the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm features typical military-inspired pilot’s watch elements: a stark black dial with Arabic indices; an oversized onion crown; and a bi-directional countdown bezel. Though the crown doesn’t screw down, it still ensures 100m of water resistance.
The original Model 23 was in fact a chronograph, as evidenced by the 30-minute counter at the top of the dial — which the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm does not have. However, the textured dial, vintage-colored lume and and cathedral handset of the new watch provide a fun callout to the original pocket watch — one can easily draw a through line between the two.
Though it’s probably not my first choice for a set-and-forget outdoors watch — mine would need a screw-down crown and the count-up bezel of a dive watch for that, personally — the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm makes a great, affordable pilot’s-type watch. Which is sort of how Hamilton seems to be positioning it within their catalog, anyway.
The Khaki Pilot Pioneer Automatic 38mm is available from the HODINKEE Shop and ships on an 18mm brown leather strap for $995. (Alternatively, if you’d prefer the “real deal,” you can still find the occasional Model 23 pocket watch on eBay.)
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