While bronze cased watches are nothing new, the past few years have seen an explosion of bronze timepieces across the industry. As more designs turn to bronze, bronze’s scope in the market has expanded from a tough and offbeat alternative to stainless steel to include a wide array of genuinely luxurious applications. As bronze moves upmarket, however, there is still a demand for the reddish metal in no-nonsense tool watches. Hamilton’s latest offering is a perfect example of this old-school bronze tool watch mentality, pairing its cornerstone field watch design with a bronze alloy that should evolve to reflect the adventures a wearer puts it through. The new Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze is a charismatic and stylish new addition to the long-running line, combining a rugged retro feel with impressive modern movement performance.
Although the elemental 38mm form of the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze is familiar, the warm matte CuSn8 bronze alloy gives this case a dynamic new personality. The simple formula of wide-set lugs, slab case sides, a flat smooth bezel, and a large pillbox crown has been a staple of Hamilton’s field watch designs dating back to World War II, and the dull golden tones of this bronze alloy help to reinforce the sense of age in images. Many early field watches featured cases in chrome-plated brass instead of stainless steel, and the look of aged brass with its outer plating worn through is not far off visually from bronze. This pre-worn look, coupled with compact 38mm dimensions, stylistically ties this model in with the forebears of the Hamilton Khaki line, and the design should become more complex and weathered as the bronze material develops a patina. Hamilton equips the Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze with a solid titanium caseback to prevent the bronze patina from rubbing off on the wrist. Despite the durable nautical reputation of bronze and the Khaki Field’s outdoor-ready character, however, the watch only manages a disappointing 50 meters of water resistance.
Like the case, the dial layout of the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze is shared with the rest of the series, but rather than new materials or colorways the existing design is recontextualized by its new surroundings here. The grainy matte black dial, rounded Arabic numerals, bold printed minutes scale, and small triangular lume marks at each hour are all classic Khaki Field, shared with the standard stainless steel model. However, the warm patina of the case harmonizes with the sandy fauxtina lume in initial images, both continuing the warm-hued feel and doubling down on the Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze’s sense of age. As the stainless steel model, this is a no-nonsense functional field watch layout, with no extraneous date window and only a single line of dial text, keeping the focus on the small details and the balance of the overall design. The only real visual flourish is nickel plating for the sword hands and the lollipop counterweighted seconds hand, adding a bright flash against the dark matte backdrop. That said, the use of a silvery metal like nickel here feels a bit incongruous in images, and a rose-gold tone or even a painted white handset would blend better with the bronze case hues.
Hamilton powers the Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze with the ETA-based H-50 hand-wound movement. The H-50 is a fully modern, accessible platform with impressive performance, offering a hefty 80-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. While the slower beat rate may be a turn-off for some, this lower frequency also helps to visually reinforce the vintage feel of the Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze with a more noticeably staccato seconds hand sweep. Hamilton finishes the watch with a distressed calf leather NATO strap in coffee brown with a titanium pin buckle. The use of distressed leather here adds to the casual, worn feel of the design as a whole, but a bronze buckle may have led to a more cohesive look.
With a trendy, handsome spin on Hamilton’s enduring core field watch design, the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze is a welcome addition to the growing bronze watch pantheon and a visual callback to the early days of Hamilton’s field watches. The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Bronze is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $825. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.