American at origins and now Swiss based, the Hamilton Watch Company is one of the most appreciated watchmakers in the world, something that has a lot to do with the variety of watches in their catalog, the high quality of their mechanical timepieces and their affordable price tags.
When it comes to variety, you could say there’s a Hamilton watch for everyone, with plenty of styles to choose from, many of which drawing inspiration from the watches of old.
In terms of pricing, it’s hard to find a $500 mechanical watch that’s as good as and has the same features of a Hamilton.
The brand is often the one that new watch enthusiasts are guided towards when they begin their journey into the beautiful world of mechanical watches and that happens for a very good reason.
Hamilton offers strong value for the money.
They’ve got plenty of timepieces under the $1,000 mark, and a wide range to choose from as well under $2k, which makes the brand approachable in terms of pricing and trustworthy when it comes to quality.
Before moving on to what we think are Hamilton’s best watches of all time, we’re going for a little journey through the company’s past.
About Hamilton Watches
Today, Hamilton sits under the Swatch Group umbrella, but it keeps alive the same American spirit that characterized its lineup since the very beginning.
Their catalog includes countless models, but the theme that dominates the brand is the military one, with the most cherished Hamilton lineup being their military themed Khaki collection, which divides into three sub-collections, the Khaki Field – for land forces, the Khaki Navy – for sea, and the Khaki Aviation – for pilot inspired watches.
Beyond that, their Jazzmaster or Broadway offer more elegant timepieces, and the American Classics collection brings reissues and vintage watches back to life.
Though based in Bienne, Switzerland since 1969, Hamilton began as an American company back in 1892.
It all started in Pennsylvania with the manufacture of pocket watches for the workers of the railway network, as there was no system in place to synchronize the trains back then.
During World War I, Hamilton became one of the main watch suppliers of the U.S. Military, which set up the brand’s theme for decades to come.
Most of their military themed watches of today are inspired from Hamilton’s original military watches, but benefiting of improved movements and designs.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what we think are the best of the best Hamilton watches ever made.
15. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
The Khaki Aviation collection is quite broad and includes both classic pilot watch designs and more complex chronographs.
The Pilot Pioneer Mechanical, priced at $845, is one of their vintage inspired models, based on the original W10 model.
The Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is featured in a 33mm case, which might sound too small but it’s actually great on the wrist, and is powered by an H-50 hand wound mechanical movement, with a water resistance rating of 100m.
The W10 that served as inspiration was made to the specifications of the British Ministry of Defence in the 1970s, and it’s one of the better looking designs made then.
14. Hamilton Khaki Field Officer
Part of the renowned Khaki Field collection, the Khaki Field Officer brings all the essential features of a field watch without the nonsense bells and whistles that other brands try to add in an attempt to enrich the design.
The Khaki Field Officer is a rugged, no-frills military watch that manages to be very stylish and elegant at the same time.
It’s powered by the H-50 mechanical movement, and has a simple dial design, getting all the details right without cramping everything in there.
The date window at 3 o’clock is an upgrade on the basic Khaki Field Mechanical, and a much needed addition for some.
The case is only 38mm, which makes it a good fit for almost any wrist.
13. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date Auto
The thin bezel allows the dial to stretch more and shine its magic.
It comes with a sunburst finish, and large sword shaped hands with luminescence for improved legibility.
The outer ring presents the minutes in large Arab numerals and clear, rectangular shaped markers, while the smaller inner ring has the hour numerals, much smaller than those of the minutes.
The date window is subtly presented at 6 o’clock, while the day is large and displayed at the 12 o’clock position.
Inside, the watch features a Swiss Automatic movement, protected by a water resistance rating of 100 meters.
12. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot GMT Auto
The Khaki Pilot GMT Auto is another one of Hamilton’s excellent aviation themed watches, sharing design traits with the Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date we presented above.
It comes with the same dial layout, with the outer minute ring and a smaller interior hour ring, but the hour ring features a 24 hour track instead of the usual 12 hour one, which works in conjunction with the red-tipped GMT hand.
The Pilot GMT also brings a rotating bezel, but ditches the day window, only keeping the date window at 3 o’clock.
The watch has a power reserve of 50 hours and a water resistance of 100 meters.
11. Hamilton Khaki Field King Auto
Though it still keeps the military themed face, the Khaki Field King Auto is sleeker, cleaner, and more elegant, something that is achieved by pairing the stainless steel case with a stainless steel bracelet or an elegant leather strap.
Both work wonders when you want to dress up.
The dial presents both a day and date window at the 12 o’clock position, similar in look to the ones on the Pilot Day Date.
The secondary 24 hour military time ring with its smaller numerals adds another dimension to the dial, aided also by the textured main 12 hour ring, giving it more elegance.
10. Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart
The Jazzmaster line is Hamilton’s largest, and one that does justice to the classic dress watch.
Going to a more profound level is the Jazzmaster Open Heart, which adds a little bit more complexity to an otherwise classic layout.
The unique way in which Hamilton reveals the inner workings of the watch strays away from the circular opening or the classic pizza slice, going for an odd cutout shape that makes the face more special and intimate.
It adds just enough amount of complexity without over-doing it.
The other features of the Jazzmaster Open Heart are a Swiss caliber H-10 automatic movement inside, an 80 hour power reserve, 50m of water resistance, and a 40mm stainless steel case that complements the elegance of the watch’s dial.
Featured in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Ridley’s Scott The Martian, the Khaki Navy beLOWZERO Auto Titanium is one of Hamilton’s most technically impressive watches.
It’s a diver, but one that has achieved some special goals. It’s got a whooping 1000 meters of water resistance, and comes equipped with a helium escape valve and a convex sapphire crystal glass that provides better underwater protection.
Despite the high performance and impressive technical features, the beLOWZERO is quite affordable, costing only around $1,795. It doesn’t sound expensive at all when you think of all the features.
8. Hamilton Ventura Quartz
Going away from the technical nature of the beLOWZERO, we’ve got one of the most stunning Hamilton creations ever.
The Ventura Quartz is an iconic model, a very distinct timepiece that stands out thanks to its quirky triangular design.
The watch was the creation of legendary industrial designer Richard Arbib, and this modern iteration is the closest to the original Ventura launched in 1957, the one that left the world speechless as the first battery powered wristwatch.
What brought the Ventura much of its later fame was appearing on the wrist of legendary star Elvis Presley in his 1961 musical, “Blue Hawaii”, thus becoming part of the Rock and Roll revolution that re-shaped America.
The Hamilton Ventura was for the watchmaking industry what Rock and Roll was for the entire world.
Khaki Navy is Hamilton’s line of professional dive watches, with the Frogman Auto being at the intersection of the quintessential dive watch and contemporary design.
The Khaki Navy Frogman Auto looks modern and bold, and its 46mm stainless steel case makes it obvious.
Hamilton chose to equip this model with a prominent crown-guard locking mechanism, a feature that has its roots in Hamilton’s historical canteen watches, like the famous “Buships” WWII watch, a vintage classic.
With a water resistance of 300m and the H-10 automatic movement, the Khaki Navy Frogman Auto is sure to perform its duties no matter how tough the environment.
While the Frogman Auto above costs around $1,200, the Khaki Navy Scuba Auto is priced at almost half of that sum, just under $800, but you might find some versions of it priced at around $600, thus giving more people the chance of enjoying the essential features of a professional dive watch.
The Scuba Auto makes the dive watch an every day wear with a smaller case, measuring 40mm, while preserving much of the qualities that make divers a wonderful choice.
The 40mm variant comes with only 100 meters of water resistance, but the 43mm brings that rating up to 300 meters.
The classic dive watch dial with the unidirectional rotating bezel is there, impressing everyone with its beauty no matter if your at the beach, by the pool or underwater.
5. Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto
The Khaki Field Murph Auto made its debut in Christopher Nolan’s other mind bending film, the 2014 Interstellar.
It actually didn’t exist before, as it was created only for the movie.
When fans of the film fell in love with the watch they saw on Murph’s wrist, Hamilton had to produce it for the public as well, so it eventually landed in one of the brand’s collections.
The watch can be had in either a 38mm or a 42mm case, and includes subtle visual cues that point out to the movie’s story.
4. Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Auto
The Khaki Field Titanium Auto is a stylish upgrade on the original Khaki Field, sporting a more refined dial and an automatic movement instead of the hand-wound of the basic Khaki Field.
It also comes with a more elegant strap, elevated finish, and offers a titanium case for those who want a lightweight wristwatch for every day use.
With this model, Hamilton has managed to bring the classic, almost perfect field watch design into a more modern form.
3. Hamilton American Classic PSR Digital Quartz
Part of the American Classic collection, the PSR Digital Quartz is the company’s tribute to their original Pulsar Time Computer that became the world’s first LED watch.
PSR’s modern iteration sees OLED technology to keep the display on at all times, with the button press further illuminating the display.
The watch has a 40mm diameter case, a quartz movement, and a water resistance of 100 meters.
But the most obviously cherished part of this watch is the aesthetic.
Hamilton nailed the look of the original, while adding subtle modern cues to keep it relevant today.
2. Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H
One of Hamilton’s more expensive timepieces, the American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H comes in at a little over $2,000, but it offers so much value for that price tag.
It’s a very well built timepiece, with a stunning design that perfectly blends the 60s aesthetic with the contemporary technology.
The Intra-Matic is one of Hamilton’s most appreciated and praised timepieces.
The watch features the iconic panda dial, a 40mm case, and the H-51 automatic movement ticking inside.
Outside, it’s pure beauty, and while it does have sporty cues, it keeps an alluring elegance.
1. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical
The Khaki Field Mechanical is the quintessential field watch. An absolute classic, there’s no other watch that has acquired so much praise from field watch enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.
Designed after the original 1960 model, the Khaki Field Mechanical brings the field watch essentials and adds something more to them, creating an almost perfect timepiece.
It’s the no-frills design, with function over form that gives birth to this beautiful simplicity that has made so many people fall in love with this watch.
It continues the brand’s military heritage, while also allowing modern features to make it better overall.
Therefore, you’ve got the reliable H-50 hand wound movement with an 80 hour power reserve, highly legible dial including at night, sapphire crystal glass, and a hard to beat price of $495.
It’s hard to choose your first watch, but it’s even harder to choose your first Hamilton.
The brand has so many good models, from the military themed Khaki to the vintage inspired American Classic collections, that it’s difficult to settle to only one.
On top of that, when you add the high quality craftsmanship and the affordable pricing, it makes the task even harder.
Though we’ve listed what we think are the best Hamilton watches ever made, we are aware that we haven’t made your task easier.
But we hope we’ve at least provided you with some cues over their expansive catalog.
- About Hamilton Watches
- 15. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer Mechanical
- 14. Hamilton Khaki Field Officer
- 13. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date Auto
- 12. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot GMT Auto
- 11. Hamilton Khaki Field King Auto
- 10. Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart
- 9. Hamilton Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO Auto Titanium
- 8. Hamilton Ventura Quartz
- 7. Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman Auto
- 6. Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto
- 5. Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto
- 4. Hamilton Khaki Field Titanium Auto
- 3. Hamilton American Classic PSR Digital Quartz
- 2. Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H
- 1. Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical