By the fall of 2018, I had become convinced that I was ready to leave smartwatches behind and to embrace a new path into the old world of mechanical watches. I pondered embarking upon this journey over the previous five years but with the birth of our daughter as a milestone to celebrate, I decided that it was time to venture forward. With much to learn, I read articles and watched videos for months while preparing for my initial purchase. I especially enjoyed learning from discussions on the Watchuseek forum and the Urban Gentry channel on YouTube.
Having worked as a graphic designer in a past life, I enjoy intentional design so this informed part of my search. My longstanding fascination with history both as the focus of my academic studies and my own personal interest, made me want to find a watch that would hold some kind of historical connection to my life. Along with design and historical interest, my only remaining criteria was that I wanted to keep the cost relatively low.
Some of the first watches to catch my eye were vintage-styled Timex field watches that were showing up in my social media feeds. I wanted this watch to be mechanical so it ruled out the Timex Expedition line that I had found visually interesting. After stumbling upon Hamilton, the Khaki Field line intrigued me with its history and design and emerged as an early favorite.
I had also developed an interest in the Type-B Uhr style World War II pilot’s watches worn by navigators in the German Luftwaffe. The focus on minutes along the outer ring of the dial with the smaller hours listed in the middle of the dial made sense to me both aesthetically and for the sake of legibility. Learning about how the watches were designed by five watch companies, all still in business and continuing to make watches of a similar style, made the Type-B flieger a compelling option with deep historical significance.
Once I learned the difference between the more budget-friendly Type-B fliegers from Steinhart and Laco’s lower end Aachen line, compared to the more historic design of the Laco Paderborn and similar models, I decided that I would rather wait until I could pay more to buy a more historically accurate model. Wanting the watch to have some kind of historical connection to my own background, I also didn’t know how I would attach the intended meaning for this initial purchase to a watch designed to be worn by Nazi pilots in World War II.
Hamilton Khaki Field
The Hamilton story, on the other hand, offered a deeper connection to my past. Hamilton started in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892 and that’s the area where my ancestors first settled when they reached the New World. Later making their way west, they settled in Ohio and Indiana but Lancaster County, Pennsylvania will always serve as an important bridge to the US for those of Swiss-German Anabaptist descent. I enjoyed the idea that I could share something about our family’s journey with my daughter through Hamilton’s story.
While looking over the Hamilton Khaki Field lineup, there was one particular model that stood out to me. The Hamilton Khaki Field Day Date automatic (reference H70505833) featured symmetrical day and date indicators, accompanied by the larger 12, 3 and 9 numerals on a matte black dial with beige indices. It looked to me like the perfect appropriation of the historic Khaki Field lineup blended with a more modern design that could work in a business casual setting. Since this was to be my first mechanical watch, I imagined wearing it for nicer occasions but did not want a dress watch that would feel out of place in casual settings. I had finally found my perfect watch.
While looking for the watch at a good price, I found a seller on Watchuseek offering the watch for a good price with the light brown calfskin leather strap that I preferred. I dove into the waters of mechanical watches with this purchase and am wearing the same Hamilton Khaki Field Day Date as I write this article. Once I put on the watch and started wearing it, I knew that I could never go back to wearing a smartwatch every day. I love this Hamilton Khaki Field Day Date watch, plan to keep it forever and am thrilled that I managed to find a keeper on my first try!
Note: There will be time for a review later but for now, I wanted to share the story of how I purchased my first mechanical watch. I would love to hear about your journey into the old world of mechanical watches if you want to either comment or connect over email or on Instagram.