With its new 2016 Khaki Navy Frogman pieces, Hamilton is showing its ability to compete with brands such as Tudor and Rolex, at much lower prices, with watch types including the day-date and diver’s. In the latter category, Hamilton has some historical traditions, because it supplied the U.S. Navy Seals with diving watches, and it based its new Khaki Navy Frogman on a military precedent dating to 1951.
It is a visually striking watch, with an all-red bezel, a crown protector, black dial with applied indices coated in SuperLuminova, and an unusual strap. The bezel rotates unidirectionally but it doesn’t have the usual 15-minute markings. The crown protector was designed to ensure that whatever the diver does underwater, there is no risk of accidentally changing the time which could have dangerous consequences on his survival underwater. The protector is unscrewed and it lifts away from the crown which can then be manipulated as desired. Another technical feature of the watch is a helium valve, which is not really relevant to most sports diving, but important for the ISO certification that Hamilton is currently obtaining for this timepiece.
Particular attention has been dedicated to the luminous indications on the dial and hands, using a high-quality SuperLuminova formulation that provides high density and brightness. All three hands are different in design, and the seconds hand has an arrow-shaped red point. The date window is placed diagonally at 4.30, I personally would have preferred the watch without.
The 46 mm version has a titanium case with 100 atm water resistance, corresponding to 1,000 metres depth. The rubber strap is a surprise because at first sight it seems to be made of two materials, rubber on the lateral strips and a soft, velvety material in the centre, but in fact it is all the same rubber material, moulded using a microperforated die to produce a shark’s skin-type texture. This is a world premier innovation. The strap has a titanium buckle.
The watch is powered by the self-winding H-11 movement, made specially by ETA for Hamilton and providing 80 hours power reserve. The latest 80-hour movements by ETA can give rise to doubts, above all in the lowest-priced watches by Mido and Tissot, in which there may be a few plastic components in the balance-escapement assembly. But with Hamilton you can rest assured that all components are in traditional materials, and that the movement can be disassembled if necessary for maintenance by a watch repairer or by Swatch Group service structures. As you would expect for a performance diving watch, the caseback is solid, with an engraving of a diver.
The same watch is available in a 42mm version with steel case, providing a 30 atm (300 metres) water resistance. There are black and blue dial versions, with matching bezel and strap. In addition to a rubber strap, these two pieces are also available with steel bracelet that has a diving-extension for when it is worn over a wet suit.
Prices and references
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman 46 mm is reference H77805335, price €1,345, and it will available from June 2016. The 42mm versions, references H77605135 (black dial) and H77705145 (blue dial), cost €995, same price whether with steel bracelet or rubber strap..