A few months ago, we had a handful of watches come in from Hamilton for review. Two of those (seen here and here) we started working up the reviews right away. There was a third watch, one that had not actually been officially released when the loaner came in. Now that we’re well past that embargo date, we’re here with a hands-on review of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto.
If you recall, we went hands-on with a different Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba around this time last year (the 37mm quartz version). While that one prized compactness, this one goes in a much bolder direction. First off, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto is very clearly the tool watch / dive watch style that we’ve come to know and love across a variety of brands. By that, I mean it’s boldly sized (43mm) and specced (300m WR rating), wrapped in a full steel case, paired to a full steel bracelet, topped with a ceramic bezel insert; all ensuring to make it feel – on your wrist – like this is a watch that can withstand a metric ton of abuse.
Yes, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto has existed prior (and still does), but this new version increases that case size (the prior version was at 40mm) and bumps up the WR rating (from 100m to 300m). So, you’re asking yourself – are you happy with the base configuration, or are you the type that wants the upgraded engine and supercharger?
What I appreciate about a watch like the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto is the sort of elegant simplicity that hides in such a tough package. At it’s core, it is a tool, designed to do one job – time your dive, and do it in a way that’s cleanly legible. Or, you know, time the parking meter, whatever life throws at you. The larger case size here allows for the indices on the dial to be larger (as the dial is bigger), and then the handset is enlarged a bit as well to keep the scale. All of that is in bright white, set against the blue degrade dial, is crisply and starkly legible. The blue of the ceramic bezel is a slightly different hue, but it’s close enough that it’s not jarring.
That ceramic bezel (only the pip is lumed) is a nod to the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto becoming a bit more civilized. Sure, a simple aluminum insert would be tough and get the job done, but ceramic says that this is a watch that wants to be a bit more. Yes, it can handle jumping off a boat into the waves, but it wants to be just as home in a suit as a wetsuit. To that end, you start getting some polished elements as well (the sizes of the bezel, for instance, edges of the center links, and the crown). Not so much that it’s throwing away its tool watch roots, but letting you know that some rougher edges have – literally – been polished.
And who knows, maybe there are some who would prefer a fully polished version of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto, but I’m not one of them. This is a watch that’s meant to be used, and full polish just means it would show every scratch and smudge, and you’d be babying it. With the brushed finishing here, that gives you some peace of mind that, as you go about life, it’s not going to look like a mess on the wrist.
All of that exterior toughness of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto is to protect the movement inside, which is the lovely H-10 with it’s 80-hour power reserve. As we’ve seen in other reviews, this is showing up in more and more watches, and the 80-hour spec is nothing to be sneezed at. Overkill if you’ve only got the one watch, but something you quickly appreciate once you’re rotating around between a few.
Wearing the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto, well, it’s just what you’d expect from a 43mm steel diver. It’s bold and noticeable on the wrist, and you will not forget that it’s there. I found the bracelet to be reasonably comfortable once sized (when you order one, you state the closest size, in 0.25″ increments), with a simple three-link configuration on a deployment clasp with push button releases. If you’re not used to a larger diver, you may not have as comfortable an experience as I did.
So, who is the $995 Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto for? Someone who wants a bold diver for their daily life, I’d say. Myself, I’d probably opt for the 40mm version for the more compact sizing, and the date window (or, possibly even the 37mm quartz), but that’s just because I appreciate the smaller case and the utility of a date complication. But that’s just me – if you’re all about the larger sizing, I think you’ll find a lot to like about the looks – and the performance – of the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto when it’s on your wrist. Also worth noting – if blue isn’t your hue, they do have a black dialed version for the same price, but it’s only on a rubber strap. Which is a bit weird, given that pricing is identical. Would almost think you’d just get both (bracelet and strap) and call it a day. Then again, perhaps that’s why I’m not a watch seller. That aside, you can check it all out, and order your own, over at hamiltonwatch.com
Tech Specs from Hamilton
|Caliber||H-10 (80-hour power reserve)|
|Case material||Stainless steel|
|Lug width||22mm lug width|
|Water Resistance||30 bar (300 m) /435 psi (934.2 ft)|
|Screw Down Crown||Yes|
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