Hands-On With The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto
I got to spend some time with the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto in green, a diver with a dial that combines the previous big trend (green) with the latest one (fumé). So if you want your dive watch hip and happening, this is your watch. This begs the question: is it all show and no go? Or is this truly the diver to get this summer?
If green fumé isn’t your jam, you can pick a version with a white dial and blue bezel, a full-blue model, or a black variant. The green one, however, is arguably the most distinctive version. In black or blue, this is a watch that could get lost in an ocean of archetypal divers. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s have a closer look at the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto specs
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto in green is a 43mm stainless steel dive watch with a sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel insert. It is indeed an archetypal dive watch. The case and the bracelet have rather Rolex Submariner-esque styling, as so many divers do. It is the dial where things get a little different. A combination of applied indices and painted 24-hour numerals give a slight diver/field hybrid vibe, especially in this green color, which I tend to associate more with field watches than divers. Rest assured, with a 300m water resistance rating, this is a pure dive watch.
The dial has a grainy texture to it that adds visual interest. It fades from a light hunter green to a blacked-out shade of green. The glossy bezel is completely hunter green, with the only lume applied in the circular pip. Speaking of lume, it is bright and green. You also get a splash of contrasting color on the red tip of the seconds hand.
The Hamilton H-10 caliber powers the Scuba. This is Hamilton’s version of the Swatch group’s 80-hour-power-reserve calibers based on the original ETA 2824. You will find it in Tissot watches labeled as the Powermatic 80, for instance. Here, it is a time-only version that ticks away at 21,600 vibrations per hour. So no, there is no date to be found on this Navy Scuba. The caliber is hidden behind a steel case back, which is in keeping with the simple, no-nonsense spirit of the watch.
A serious chunk of steel
The 43mm case is fully brushed. It measures 12.58mm thick and 52mm from tip to tip with a lug spacing of 22mm. Upon handling the watch, its weight of 213 grams immediately jumps out. I swapped it for my Seiko SKX009, which comes in at around 130 grams on the bracelet. The difference is noticeable, to put it mildly.
The end links seem like they are of the female style, but looks can be deceiving. They have only a tiny range of articulation, extending the overall length to 57mm before the first fully articulating link. In short, then, the Hamilton Navy Scuba Auto 43mm is a sizable watch. This is a serious chunk of steel that requires a substantial wrist.
The pictures show it on my 17cm wrist. I can pull it off, yes, but not exactly gracefully. Admittedly, I think the fit looks a lot better in these pictures than it did in real life. The watch somehow feels taller than it is. The weight makes me feel like I am a kid wearing my dad’s watch. I’d say you either need a >19cm wrist or a taste for chunkier watches to feel at home with this one. Alternatively, you could opt for the 40mm version. That is, however, quite a different watch with its aluminum bezel, different dial, and “only” 100m water resistance. Even the green is different. It is more of a moss green and sans fumé effect.
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto bracelet
The green version of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto (€1,095) comes on a 316L stainless steel bracelet. At first glance, it is reminiscent of the traditional Oyster-style bracelet. Upon closer inspection, Hamilton has made an effort to give it a character of its own. If you opt for the black dial version, you can choose a rubber alternative. The other dial variants, including this one, only come on steel.
The center links are slightly raised compared to the outer links. They are also decorated with polished chamfers all around. This is a nice touch. It is subtle enough not to be garish yet noticeable enough to add some flair.
You get a double-push-button clasp of the quality you may expect in this segment. Unfortunately, it features only two tightly spaced micro-adjustment positions, for which you need a spring bar tool. This is certainly not the end of the world, but we are getting used to more refined solutions at this price point. Overall, the bracelet feels nice and solid.
Wearing the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto
I don’t want to ramble on about the size of the Scuba Auto since it is a matter of personal preference. It does, however, tie into my overall impression of this watch as being capable but not overly refined. Its heft and construction make it feel extremely solid. The tried and trusted caliber inside reflects that notion, as does the use of sapphire and ceramic. It feels like a pure sports watch, perfectly capable of surviving your weekend adventures.
But it also lacks some of the refinement you may be looking for in an everyday diver. It won’t slide under the cuff like a Tudor Black Bay 58 or 54 will. The bezel is slippery and quite tight, making it slightly awkward to operate.
To be fair, I am probably judging the Khaki Navy Scuba by the wrong criteria here. If you want more of that everyday refinement, a Baltic Aquascaphe or a Lorier Neptune will serve you better in this segment. Granted, both with the vintage vibes dialed up quite a lot. This Hamilton is more of an out-and-out dive watch. Or, at least, a sports watch. If that is what you are looking for, the Navy Scuba 43mm performs that role perfectly.
I opened this review with a statement about fashion. Indeed, green dials have moved from trendy to mainstream now, and fumé seems to be the “it” style currently. This doesn’t quite suit the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto. It isn’t otherwise trying to be stylish. It is a chunky, solid, and simple sports watch. Simple in the good sense, that is, as in dependable and no-nonsense.
So no, this surely isn’t an all-show-no-go fashion dive watch. Quite the opposite, actually. But it seems to have put on a very fashionable hat this time around. I think this may be why I prefer the black- and white-dial versions. They seem a little more conceptually cohesive to me.
What do you think? Am I just being boring, and is the fumé green just the right amount of pizazz that this tool-diver needed? Or is it better suited to a more serious guise? Let us know in the comments below.
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