The Hamilton Watch Company, which started producing watches in the USA in 1893, is now based in Switzerland as part of the Swatch group of companies. Embracing this history, the company’s current tagline is “American Spirit – Swiss Precision.” Indeed, its American roots have not been forgotten as Hamilton is still known for creating some of the most iconic Americana-themed watches on the market. The X-Wind Chronograph is no exception; picture Robert Redford piloting a P-40 Warhawk while chomping on a cigar and you get the idea. This watch has function to back up that form, too: the rugged military/aviation aesthetic is bolstered by a weight of nearly 500 grams and actual functioning aeronautical tools.
The stainless-steel case measures 44mm in diameter, 15.5 mm thick, and 54 mm lug-to-lug. This watch is on the larger end of the spectrum, so those of us with smaller wrists might find it a tad bulky.
The half-skeletal back features a sapphire window showcasing the H21 chronograph movement on the bottom half with an aeronautical chart imprinted above. Three substantial screwed-down crowns with crown guards add to the hefty appeal of this watch. The external and internal bezels rotate bi-directionally, and the prominent lugs swoop gracefully towards the band.
A sapphire crystal dial window showcases a handsome matte black dial that is nicely offset by white hands and numerals, and because both the hands and the numerals are luminous, this watch is very easy to read at a glance whether it’s day or night. The Roman sword minute and hour hands and a very thin second hand are surprisingly delicate for such a substantial watch, but the look is pulled off well.
Three subdials with 60 second, 30 minute, and 12 hour displays take the place of the 12, 3, and 6 numerals while a white-backed day and date display with black lettering replaces the 9. Along with the intricate bezels, these subdials lend a very technical feel to this chronograph watch.
The X-Wind comes with a chunky 22 mm calfskin leather band with contrast stitching and an H-shaped tang on the buckle clasp, just in case you forgot this was a Hamilton. Two rivets on either side of the case reinforce the rugged military aesthetic.
Features and Functionality
Part of that Swiss precision from the company’s tagline comes from the automatic H21 movement, a derivative of the famous Valjoux 7750 movement. The H21 boasts an increased running reserve (60 hours) versus the 7750 (42 hours), a great function for anyone who alternates watches for an extended period of time.
Arguably the most interesting function on this watch is the drift-angle calculator, a feature which allows pilots to record crosswind speeds (hence “X-Wind,” pronounced cross wind) they encounter during their flights. There do not appear to be any other watches with this function on the market, making this watch uniquely useful for pilots should they run into a circumstance where their other instruments fail. I am sure this feature will more often end up being used as a conversation piece than a useful tool, but it is still fun to have the capability.
The X-Wind’s technical details and functional aviation tools can be appreciated by both pilots and non-pilots alike. It is definitely a watch for someone who wants to exude a rugged, technical vibe. While the styling may prove to be overly aggressive for some tastes, and the technical details might be seen as gimmicky by those of us who will never sit in an airplane cockpit, overall I see the X-Wind as a timeless and tasteful piece. With an MSRP of around $1595, this watch punches above its weight and represents a great value in its class.