Hands-On With The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 42mm
Last week, I had the opportunity to test one of my favorite watches at the sub-€1,000 price point. I’m talking, of course, about the brilliant contemporary classic that is the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. However, something was a little bit different. Instead of the usual Khaki Field 38mm size, the watches placed before me were larger. A whole four millimeters larger, to be precise. Now, as far as I’m concerned, Hamilton already found the perfect formula with this watch, so how does its bigger counterpart fare? As you can see, nothing much changes in terms of design, and the proportions are well-maintained. But it’s not only what’s written down on paper that matters. So, grab yourself a coffee and strap in for a hands-on view of the 42mm Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical.
My preference when it comes to the Khaki Field Mechanical, one of the most beloved watches from the brand, was always the 38mm model. Or rather, models, as the watch comes in a wide variety of case materials, finishes, and dial variations. Earlier this year, I reviewed the Khaki Field Mechanical in bronze, which is also a 38mm model. This standard size works well, and I couldn’t blame you for thinking that if Hamilton has the perfect formula, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to change it. However, I’m here to tell you that it does indeed make sense. You just have to look at it from a broader point of view.
Battle of the sizes: 38 vs. 42
For most of us, the standard-sized Hamilton models will look and feel like perfection on the wrist. Especially for those of us with a middle-of-the-road wrist size and an appreciation for vintage watches. Despite having a 7-inch wrist, I don’t mind wearing 34mm vintage watches, and even my relatively small Cartier Tank never struck me as too small. However, us watch enthusiasts who find ourselves deep down the rabbit hole often lose sight of the bigger picture. Ask anyone on the Fratello team, and they’ll tell you that they love the 38mm Khaki Field Mechanical. But show both models to any random person on the street, and chances are they will pick the 42mm version.
I know, hard to believe, yet sometimes our perception gets the better of us. We speak in universals and broad terms and forget that sales numbers often reveal a different story. A perfect example of this is our general dislike for date windows. It’s simply a fact that most consumers prefer a watch with a date feature. Recently, a few of us at Fratello HQ were surprised to find out that another brand’s flagship model, available in three different sizes (let’s say 36mm, 40mm, and 43mm) sold the most in its largest size. If you had asked me, I would have put money on it being the mid-sized model that sold the most. But the numbers don’t lie. And they are the ones, with their means, medians, and modes that dictate decisions made by brands. Is the 42mm Hamilton starting to make sense now? I thought so!
Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical 42mm
But does it make sense to me and you? Well, I must admit, that going into my hands-on review with a rather biased mindset, I quickly found myself surprised at just how much I liked the bigger Hamilton. Did it feel as big as my Speedmaster at 42 millimeters? No. Its flatter by a whole 1.7 millimeters and is slightly more streamlined thanks to the flat sapphire crystal. Now, it’s admittedly a little longer, at 50mm lug-to-lug, yet thanks to its 22mm lug width which is more proportional to the case and the downward sloping lugs, it still sits nicely on the wrist. The white-dialed version did feel a bit bigger, but it was also delivered on a matching bead-blasted steel bracelet. The black-dialed model, on the signature khaki green NATO with leather keepers and a steel buckle, was not only a bit more familiar but also wore a little bit smaller.
Now, inside, this model does what other 42mm Hamilton Khaki Field models do not, which is to maintain the hand-wound H-50 movement from the 38mm model. What does this mean for the wearer? Well, on the one hand, you’ll have to wind it every now and then to keep it running. On the other hand, thanks to its 80-hour power reserve, you won’t have to do it more than twice each week. As a proud Speedmaster fan, I do like the additional level of interaction that a hand-winding caliber provides. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something to that small routine each morning that reminds me just why I like these mechanical companions as much as I do. Other than that, the watch comes with all the fixin’s — a solid screw-down case back, a grippy signed crown, and one of the coolest dials out there.
I asked the question but did not answer it just yet: is this a watch for me? No. And I don’t say this for any reason other than the fact that I do prefer the 38mm version. It’s the same watch, with the same movement and features, so personal preference reigns supreme. However, the other part of the question was: is this a watch for you? This is where things get interesting. Many people say that 38mm is simply too small for their wrists. Even in my article listing the top dive watches of 2021, a number of you stated that my picks were all too small. So, there is certainly an audience of you out there for whom this watch is nothing but good news. You were missing out on one of the best watches that CHF 595 (CHF 710 on the bracelet) can buy, and now this is no longer the case!
For more information on the Khaki Field Mechanical 42mm and other watches in the current collection, please visit the Hamilton website. For now, let me know your thoughts. Are you a fan of the 38mm? Or is the 42mm a welcome addition to the lineup? Comment down below.