February 25, 2016
by Jack Wagner
In anticipation of Baselworld 2016, we see the re-release of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman, a purpose-built diver that was the choice of the U.S. Navy in the first half of the 20th century for its tactical dive teams. It was also an important model in the history of Hamilton on the silver screen, being the first watch from the brand to appear in a motion picture. The movie was, fittingly enough, The Frogman, a 1951 release about the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team.
The flagship version of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman re-release has a 46mm titanium case with a red, unidirectional rotating bezel marking out 60 minutes and ten-minute integers in a clear, retro-militaristic font, with a triangular indicator replacing the zero/sixty marker. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman has a black dial with applied indexes with Super-LumiNova luminescence. The hour and minute hands are sizeable and feature the same luminescence as the dial, and there is a small date window between four and five o’clock. The crystal is sapphire with an antireflective coating. Immediately noticeable is the locking crown guard which, in addition to the black rubber strap, hints at serious diving abilities.
With water-resistance to 1,000 meters, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman watch lives up to the promises its design makes for it. It also features a helium escape valve for regulating internal/external pressures experienced while diving. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman watch is powered by the H-10 automatic caliber movement and has an 80-hour power reserve.
Obviously, the market for dive watches is incredibly dense and Hamilton is going head-to-head with a number of different capable manufacturers with this watch. The Tag Heuer Aquaracer, while only water-resistant to 300 meters and priced higher, has a more subdued design which could allow it to be worn more casually in environments where the Frogman would stand out. It is a similar story with the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman and the Tudor Pelagos or one of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay watches. These could potentially be unfair comparisons because of the price differences, but since this is the territory Hamilton is entering with their dive watches, it will require a hands-on to see how the build and design compares to the Swiss rivals. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman can also be compared to dive watches from Oris and Squale priced at or below the Frogman with similar technical features and attractive designs.
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman is also being re-released in a 42mm stainless steel version and will be available with either a black or blue dial with matching bezels on each. The 42mm version doesn’t have the same diving capabilities, being water resistant to only 300 meters and excluding the helium escape valve, but the additional case designs, lower price, and option of a rubber strap (the same color as the dial) or stainless steel triple-row bracelet make it attractive as well. With a good history, both in terms of within the brand and in the context of dive watches, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman is worth a look at its suggested retail prices of $1,445 for the 46mm version and $1,095 for the 42mm version. It will be interesting to see this model in person and get a better sense of how it compares to the competition. Maybe I’ll fill the wait by seeing if I can find a copy of The Frogman. hamiltonwatch.com