The fit of a watch is about more than its diameter—sometimes much more. I kept returning to that thought while wearing the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman; although it measures 42mm across, it wears much bigger. But the calipers don’t lie, and neither does Hamilton. This is one of those watches about which numbers tell the least interesting part of the story.
Based on a vintage Hamilton design that was used by U.S. Navy “frogmen” tactical divers, and featured in the 1951 movie of the same name, the version I tested is actually the smaller of two re-editions. The bigger version has a 46mm titanium case and is three times more water-resistant—up to 1000 meters—than my 42mm stainless steel tester. The 42mm stainless versions are available in red, blue, or black, but the big boy only wears red.
The unique feature of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman—and one reason even the smaller version wears so big—is the screw-down cap that covers the crown. There’s less going on here than meets the eye. The signed cap sits on the end of a short arm, with two points of articulation. I assumed that the piece marked “LOCK” was some sort of, you know, lock; but it is just for show. The arm/cap combo is tightly built and the big cap makes it a cinch to open and close. Unscrew the cap, swing it up and away and the crown is accessible. Still, the cap always gets in the way of working the crown. The crown is a simple knurled push-pull deal, which winds and sets the Swiss H-10 movement inside.
Luckily, the H-10 is an automatic, so as long as you keep the watch moving, its 80 hours of autonomy should keep you from having to fuss with the cap. The H-10 is a re-branded ETA C07.111, which is based on the ETA 2824-2. We’ve already seen the C07.111 in a few other Swatch Group watches. The C07.111 doubles the standard power reserve of the 2824, mainly by dialing down the frequency from 28,800/bph to 21,600. I compared it side-by-side with two standard 2824s, and the H-10’s second hand might have moved a little less smoothly, but it’s barely perceptible.
While the capped crown creates some headaches with setting and winding, one result of a well-sealed crown is above average water resistance. This is a legit dive watch, good for 300 meters (rather than the ISO-required 100m) and a ridiculous 1000m in the titanium 46mm version. The bezel is the usual 120-click deal with a chunky edge and an equally chunky click.
The bezel sits atop a burly slab-sided case with a solid back. The weight and shape of the 42mm x 12mm case is substantial and adds to the big feeling of the watch. The bracelet helps keep all that heft under control, even though the fit of the links could be a bit tighter. The brushed outer links and polished center links are nicely finished and blend well with the brushed case. The push-button clasp mechanism is crisp, with four ratcheting micro-adjustments to dial in the size or accommodate a wetsuit. I was surprised there is no secondary latch given that the rest of the watch comes across as a serious diver. The date hiding at 4:30 also seems out of place for a dedicated diver, and the dial really isn’t big enough to accommodate it.
The rest of the dial certainly fits the serious diver role, with big globs of bluish lume at every hour, on all three hands, and on the bezel pip at 12:00. During the day, the chromed hands and the blue sunray dial give the watch a macho elegance. No one could mistake this for a dress watch, but it’s no beater either.
Speaking of beaters, my go-to dive watch is the quintessential beater: the Seiko SKX007. While they are both 42mm dive watches, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman is 52mm lug-to-lug, compared to the 007’s 45mm. That breadth, plus the straight-sided case, makes the the Hamilton feels more substantial in every dimension—including the style dimension. If you’ve got the wrist real estate to pull it off, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman is a unique dive watch option, with classic diving chops and a bit of flair to carry you through even your land-bound days in style. hamiltonwatch.com
Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman (H77705145)
- Price: $1,095USD (MSRP)
- Who’s it for? Stylish divers with wrists like tree trunks.
- Would I wear it? I like to think I fit the first category, but I know I don’t fit the second.
- What I’d change? Bring the titanium case to the 42mm version.
- Standout feature? Capped crown.
Tech Specs from Hamilton
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Case Dimensions: 42mm x 52mm x 12mm
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Movement: H-10 automatic, aka ETA C07.111 (based on the ETA 2824-2)
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with ratcheting micro-adjustment
- Water Resistance: 30 bar (300 m) /435 psi (934.2 ft)