It may not look like it, but the Hamilton Frogman is steeped in a very Hamilton kind of history. The Frogman traces its roots to mil-spec timepieces first made by Hamilton in 1943 for the US Navy Bureau of Ships (BuSHIPS) and features an enormous canteen-style crown. But in an even more Hamilton turn, the watch was featured in the 1951 film The Frogmen, about US Navy demolition teams in WWII, marking the second time a Hamilton had appeared on the big screen (the first being 1932’s Shanghai Express). Of course, Hamilton has remained deeply involved in the film industry, featuring more recently in Men in Black, The Martian, Interstellar, and this year’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
The Hamilton Frogman has evolved considerably since being seen in theaters in 1951. When it was originally revived in 2016, the Frogman was a true modern interpretation of that canteen-style diver, with a 46mm titanium case and a crown giant screw-down crown fixed to the case by a locking arm (a 42mm steel version was released simultaneously). Then, in 2022, Hamilton completely revised the Frogman: the model remained 46mm but the case was made sleeker, the bezel redesigned, the strap changed, and, most noticeably, the locking arm disposed of in favor of a telescoping crown enclosure. In essence, the bold and brash 2016 Frogman was turned into something a bit more consumer friendly. Continuing on that path and in apparent response to the shift away from gigantic watches, Hamilton this year released the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman Auto in 41mm. While all the previous iterations appear to still be available, this new version with its reduced size seems poised to make the model far more appealing and accessible.
I always liked the redesigned Frogman, but, like many, was turned off by its enormity; 46mm is only acceptable in extreme cases, for extreme watches. When I saw the Frogman coming out in 41mm, I was excited to try what I was sure would be a better execution of the design. The new case features the same overall design, is simply more compact. The silhouette is rather graceful for such a tool watch, with a polished chamfer and crisp brushing. The case measures 44mm lug-to-lug and 13.09mm thick including the domed sapphire crystal with AR coating, dimensions that make this much more wearable than you’d expect from just seeing product photos (in the same way a Panerai Luminor doesn’t wear bigger just because of its guard). To be sure, this watch sat wonderfully on my 7-inch wrist, though I did find the rubber strap a bit stiff and the pin buckle closure unforgiving.
The case does a good job balancing itself out, too, with a 9 o’clock protuberance of the Hamilton H logo, which offsets the crown. The crown and its enclosure are the defining features of this watch. Part of me wishes there was something special to the enclosure, some added function, but it truly is just another layer of protection on top of the 300 meters of water resistance. It’s fixed to the crown with a screw, and then to the case through its ends. When you unscrew the crown, its legs, as they were, extend, keeping the enclosure intact. Unscrewing the crown is made a bit more difficult as there’s less surface area to grip, but the deep groves do their best to provide purchase. The 120-click unidirectional bezel offers raised polished markings against its matte base, with a polished edge that features too-shallow grooving; while it’s easy enough to operate in perfectly dry conditions, getting a grip on it with any moisture involved was more challenging than I’d prefer.
The dial is offered in olive green, a color new to this model that Hamilton has used in the past on other models. In fact, one of the 2022 Frogman models was essentially this watch with a black dial and a strap in this very color of green—Hamilton has just swapped colors. The dial itself has a fine grit texture and the orange text gives it a bit of pop. The handset also features that orange, giving the watch excellent legibility. While the design is decidedly modern, one can see how the hour hand takes its inspiration from those original watches. One subtle element that you won’t notice on wrist is the brushed stripe through the center of the hour and minute hands. The handset is complemented by polished applied hour markers, and everything is filled with an adequate helping of Super-LumiNova. I had no issues reading the watch in all conditions and found the green and orange colorway to work well given the military history.
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman Auto 41mm has a screw-down caseback decorated with a SCUBA mask, under which beats the automatic Hamilton H-10. This caliber is the Hamilton version of the Swatch-exclusive ETA C07.611, which is also used by Mido (Caliber 80), Tissot (Powermatic 80), and Rado (R763). The movement is based on the ETA 2824-2, with a few improvements, most notably, the extension of the power reserve to 80 hours, which is accomplished by reducing the beat rate to 21,600 vph. Having owned a Mido with this movement for several years, and experienced several others with it for shorter periods, I can attest that it is yet another robust ETA movement that delivers on its promised run time.
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman Auto in 41mm represents the evolution of a historic model into a modern timepiece that stands out from the rest of the pack with its quirky crown enclosure. Despite a few elements that are less than ideal but not dealbreakers, the new Frogman has both a story and an appealing design, and I found myself enjoying it every time I strapped it on, even if it wasn’t on the stock strap. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman Auto H77455360 is priced at $1,245 USD. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Khaki Navy Frogman Auto H77455360
>Price: $1,245 USD
>Size: 41mm wide, 44mm lug-to-lug, 13.09mm thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Weekend adventures like saltwater spear dancing, deep reconnaissance, or a dip in the lake
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a diver with a dash of history and a touch of character
>Best characteristic of watch: Green dial with orange accents, unique crown guard
>Worst characteristic of watch: Buckle can be a pain to unfasten, Strap can be uncomfortable, unique crown guard.