I have never owned a field watch and never understood why. They offer a lot in terms of pure functionality, but not so much when it comes to endurance and features. If, however, you can step back and understand that a mechanical watch is primarily designed to tell the time then you can concentrate on how a timepiece looks and works, and leave it at that.
When you do this you can view a field watch in a different light. It is effectively a watch which just happens to have 24 hour markers inside the 12 hour markers and usually a very effective lume to read the time at night, but there is also quite a history to this type of watch which can be read here.
This particular watch from Hamilton retails for £640 which I realise is a lot of money, but when considered among a very large crowd at this price point it stands up well. There is a nato strapped version at £540 and so you are effectively paying £100, minus the nato, for the steel bracelet. This is where the value perception muddies a little.
After a few days with the Khaki Field I am more than a little surprised about how I feel about it. It is exceptionally thin compared to most other non-quartz watches I have reviewed and it has a dial that is almost like paper in most lighting conditions. It’s kind of like a Kindle on a sunny day as opposed to an iPad. The only downside is the lack of any anti-reflective coating on the crystal which is an odd move because it kinds of defeats the object of a super-clear dial. In reality this isn’t the end of the world because it is fine 95% of the time with only the occasional twist of the wrist needed on occasion.
The H-50 movement is hand wound and offers up to 80 hours of power reserve. It takes quite a few turns to wind, but as soon as you feel some resistance you can stop and you will be good to go for 3+ days. This minor inconvenience is nothing when you consider that you need to do nothing else to keep it running and I am sure that any Apple Watch owner would take that in place of the constant charging.
The lengthy power reserve is excellent and it gets better because after 3 days it is 1 second slow. That is exceptional and from what I hear it is not unusual to see this level of performance from the H-50 movement.
At 50m (5 bar) the water resistance is not particularly useful, but this is a feature of many field watches. I am not sure this makes sense because a screen down crown would not hurt with such a long power reserve and extra water resistance is almost always a good thing.
The blasted steel case is lovely and it may actually look cheap to some people. However, if you know you know and there is never a sense that it is finished poorly or that the watch lacks in exceptional construction. For me, it does not shout luxury and it makes no effort to gain attention, but there is a real sense that it is tightly made for the task it is designed to do. The bracelet, which is a fairly new addition sits incredibly tight to the case and matches the aesthetic perfectly. From a distance it looks great, but the lack of a taper does feel slightly out of place when attached to such a thing watch head.
Is the bracelet worth an extra £100, minus the nato strap on the lower-priced version? I don’t know. When I saw this watch on the bracelet a few months ago I was taken by it and it seemed to complete the watch in the marketing photos. In the real world it is perfectly possible that a field watch like this looks better on a decent nato strap.
It is hard to recommend a watch like this at such a price because I am aware that the majority who read McGST care little for watches, but in the big world of mechanical watches particular model is right up there with the very best. It’s genuinely hard to fault.