Hamilton’s Khaki Navy lineup is intended to represent the watchmaker’s underwater specialists; the watches you turn to when the going gets wet. And indeed, two of the Khaki Navy watches, the Belowzero 1000M Auto and the Frogman Auto, are impressive dive watches with water resistance ratings of up to 1000 meters. The H78465553 reviewed here today, however, is only rated to 100 meters, landing it on the decidedly less rugged side of the lineup. This watch isn’t trying to be a dive watch, however, so this is not a problem. We don’t need to get caught up in what collection this watch belongs in, however, as this watch has more than enough pizazz to stand on its own. With a throwback marine chronometer styling and solid specifications list, the Navy Pioneer puts so much on the plate, it doesn’t need an incredibly deep water resistance rating to justify its existence.
While it might not look it at first glance, the H78465553’s case is one of the more interesting cases I have reviewed lately. The more you study it, the more you grow to appreciate the beautiful design touches.
Let’s start with the basics: we have here a 40-millimeter stainless-steel case with an exhibition back. In my opinion, this is a great size for everyday use. The watch’s sapphire crystal offers excellent scratch resistance and uses an anti-reflective treatment to reduce glare. The thin wire lugs have a simple elegance and really emphasize the round case shape. This minimalist design allows the case to speak for itself, an effect that reminds one of a pocket watch or clock more than a traditional watch design. An unprotected crown sits at the three o’clock position – another indication that this watch doesn’t represent Hamilton’s most determined effort at an underwater watch. Handily, though, that crown can be used to wind the watch’s automatic movement should the power reserve expire.
A small stainless-steel bezel complements the dial without adding much interest to the watch. Where things get interesting with this case is when you take a rear three-quarters view of the watch. You will quickly notice that the case tapers inwards as you proceed from the knurled edge of the bezel to the back of the case. This is a really interesting feature you don’t see too often. This feature really adds some intrigue when viewing the watch from the side as you wear it. The case is raised up again on the areas that connect to the lugs. Also of interest is the exhibition caseback, proudly displaying the watch’s ruggedly handsome ETA movement. The case is held together with 6 exposed screws.
The silver on this dial is very subtle, looking white from some angles. Prominent black Arabic numerals couldn’t be easier to read, and are represented in a nice retro-style font. A white date field with black font sits just inside the 3 o’clock marker, crowding in on the numeral’s space a bit. The metallic blue Poire-style hands add a nice touch of excitement to this refined dial, but it may prove too shouty for some people who otherwise enjoy the style of this watch.
In contrast to the matte finish on the rest of the dial, the seconds subdial situated above the 6 o’clock marker uses a shiny sunburst silver finish. This subdial design looks great and probably contributes the most to this piece’s distinctiveness. Moving to the outermost layer of the dial, we find an angled chapter ring that is clutter free, featuring small numerals displaying 5-minute increments.
An ETA 2895 automatic movement runs the show for the Navy Pioneer. With a 42-hour power reserve and 27 jewels, the H78465553 is a solid choice by Hamilton. As mentioned earlier, this movement offers manual winding as well as a hacking capability.
Earlier I referred to this as a “ruggedly handsome” movement, which was may have just been a polite way of saying that Hamilton has done little to dress it up aside from inscribing the company name in black across the rotor. 28,800 bps frequency provides a silky-smooth seconds hand motion while keeping the diameter of the case to a very reasonable 10 millimeters.
A 20-millimeter wide brown leather strap seems to be a great companion to the modern retro Navy Pioneer, although I can’t help but feel that the tan contrast stitching detracts more than it adds. A subtler strap would do a better job of staying out of the way of the beautiful case and dial. Aside from that minor niggle, however, this seem to be a sturdy, long-lasting offering.
Not ultra-rugged nor is it super dressy, this is a decidedly casual watch. If you are seeking that sort of go anywhere, jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none sort of watch, this H78465553 Navy Pioneer offering from Hamilton is hard to beat. All things considered, this watch seems well worth the retail price.