In the vast realm of horology, few American companies have a genetic makeup as enduring and storied as Hamilton. It is a name immediately recognizable to the casual customer and the seasoned watch enthusiast, alike. This is, perhaps, due to the fact that Hamilton has existed for well over a century. Since the company’s inception in Lancaster, Pennsylvania circa 1892, it has manufactured timepieces that expand upon the fundamental pillars of functionality and reliability. This combination of no-nonsense utilitarian design and rugged durability made Hamilton watches the ideal choice for the United States’ top military aviators.
This respected lineage led Hamilton to become synonymous with aeronautics in reality, as well as on the big screen. In film, Hamilton watches have been the tool of choice for intrepid explorers willing to brave the unknown. Self-proclaimed “space pirate” Mark Watney (Matt Damon) singlehandedly terraformed Mars in The Martian. For added space cred, both Coop and Murph (Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain) wield Hamilton watches to great effect in Christopher Nolan’s 2014 mind-bender Interstellar.
In reality, true heroes and patriots have taken to the skies and traversed the stratosphere with a Hamilton as their co-pilot. Keeping in line with this tradition, Hamilton recently announced the introduction of its new Converter line. Each model features a time-tested aviation tool, the rotating slide-rule bezel. The Converter series is available in simple three-hand, GMT, and chronograph forms. The introduction of this collection further solidifies Hamilton’s extensive history with aeronautics while making a tool that reflects the most modern advancements available.
The aforementioned slide-rule bezel is to aviators what the decompression table is to scuba divers, i.e., it is paramount in order to safely navigate the potential pitfalls of air travel. In the 21st century, there are a number of analog tools that have been rendered obsolete by technological advancement. The slide-rule, however, managed to evade this fate. In the event of equipment failure or as a double-check to ensure equipment accuracy, the bi-directional bezel of the Hamilton Converter serves as an accessory well-designed to determine a multitude of crucial values. Though it may seem counterintuitive in our digital age, the use of a circular slide-rule is still taught in pilot training today. It remains an effective device for pilots to successfully navigate the skies.
For those of us who find ourselves more frequently on terra firma, the slide-rule feature can still be a handy tool in everyday life. While aviators are likely to take advantage of the bezel in order to determine factors such as rate of climb, air speed, and fuel consumption, its functionality transcends these somewhat niche applications. By rotating the outer bezel to appropriately align with the corresponding numbers on the fixed inner table, the wearer can perform rapid multiplication, subtraction, and even currency conversions during global travel. In a way, the use of circular slide-rule, especially in the context of a watch, is like having a secret agent gadget on your wrist. It may not come with a grappling hook or incendiary detonator, but the ability to perform accurate calculations is far more useful in day-to-day life.
Regardless of which specific reference beckons to you from the Aviation Converter lineup, there are numerous identical traits shared by all the models. Each is comprised of stainless steel and maintains the option for a bracelet or leather strap. The generous application of Super-LumiNova® throughout the indices and hands ensures ease of reading after sundown, while the double-AR-coated sapphire crystal provides a barrier against the elements. If seaplanes are more your speed, each Khaki Converter is water resistant to 100m, making it well-suited for amphibious adventure. As the hallmark of the Converter series, each piece features the same slide-rule bezel with mineral glass inlay that effectively captures the charm and warmth of the acrylic inlays often found in vintage timepieces.
The “base model” iteration of the new Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter is the classic 3-hande. This is the smallest in diameter of the trio, by a margin of 2mm, coming in at 42mm. Powered by the H-10 automatic movement with NivachronTM balance spring, it boasts an 80-hour power reserve. Suffice it to say, this is a timepiece that is in it for the long-haul during extended in-air durations. The NivachronTM alloy used in the balance spring is entirely novel and is highly resistant to magnetic fields. The utilization of this material means that the watch will remain accurate and dependable in any environment — most importantly, the cockpit of a plane, where magnetism tends to run rampant. Options within the lineup are diverse, with the choice of a full stainless model, full black PVD, or even a charming PVD/rose gold combination.
Perhaps even more aviator-centric is the Converter GMT. While slightly larger than the previous model, at 44mm, the GMT function allows the wearer to readily track multiple timezones. This has long been a function appreciated by pilots and jetsetters alike. Coupled with the bezel, it further expands upon the concept of the ideal traveler’s timepiece. The substantial H-14 movement provides 80 hours of reliable power reserve. Of note: The GMT model deviates from the standard black dial of the series, instead opting for a blue sunray dial with color-matched bezel and datewheel. The blazing orange-tipped arrow of the GMT hand makes quick work of tracking the second timezone, while the thinner red-tipped seconds hand remains easily discernible. This is also the only model to feature a 6 o’clock date, which, in terms of symmetry, is the ideal location.
The third member of the Converter series is the chronograph. With a 44mm diameter akin to the GMT model, the chronograph features a technically complex appearance entirely at-home among the gauge clusters of an airplane. Utilizing the H-21-Si movement, along with a silicon balance spring, this model remains resistant to magnetic fields. The subdials at both 12 and 6 o’clock are encircled by a ring of stainless steel, or rose gold when applicable, which allows for an enjoyable continuity of design from case to face. The small running seconds at 9 o’clock is a bit more discrete, while the day and date are both featured at 3 o’clock. Needless to say, there is a lot of functionality packed into this watch, so much so that it is as much a wrist-computer as it is a watch.
For any aerial ascent, Hamilton has a hangar full of options functionally formatted for the flight deck. From the simplicity of the converter auto, to the convenience of the GMT and enhanced capability of the chronograph, there is no shortage of useful applications for the Converter series. Built upon the pillars of Hamilton’s close historical accord with aviation, these pieces were constructed using the same ethos as the first flight watches provided to the U.S. Airmail Service in 1918. Historical context aside, every aspect of the Converter series is entirely modern, from the innovation of the anti-magnetic silicon or NivachronTM balance springs to the inclusion of cutting-edge movements and materials. Taking to the troposphere is no small endeavor, requiring a high degree of skill and dexterity. Logic should follow that the instrument on the wrist of any pilot should match or exceed that proficiency. That is exactly what Hamilton has created with the Converter lineup.
Price for the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto H76615530 is $995 USD, while the inclusion of the bracelet for model H76615130 runs $1,045. The full DLC H76625530 is priced at $1,095, and the H76635730, with the inclusion of rose gold accents, is $1,195. Price for the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter GMT Auto H76715540 is $1,295 on leather, while the full bracelet H76715140 is priced at $1,345. Price for the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Converter Auto Chrono H76726530 on leather is $1,845, while the steel bracelet equipped H76726130 model is $1,895. The DLC-coated H76736730 with rose gold accents is priced at $2,145. Learn more at the Hamilton watch website.
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