It is always a pleasure to see a second-tier brand going the hard way and turning a simple (and common) complication into a unique feature of the watch. The new Hamilton Khaki SkyMaster UTC automatic watch is the latest example of such an approach.
The complication in question that is delivered to you courtesy of the good old ETA 2893-2 automatic caliber,is the second time zone function, which is mostly known as GMT, but is called here UTC (Coordinated Universal Time,) which seems to be more appropriate in this case.
Although the mechanism is not particularly exclusive (it powers hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions, of watches manufactured during the last couple of decades,) it is still a very good choice since the mechanism has a good reputation for its reliability and robustness. It is also quite accurate for the price, so rest assured: this is one of the best things you can get when buying a watch in sub-€1500 range.
Perhaps, the mechanism’s only problem is that it looks rather plain with its very basic finish. This may be the reason behind the decision to equip this otherwise gorgeous watch with a solid engraved case back cover and skipping the usual sapphire crystal.
To set the second time zone, you must select one of 24 IATA airport codes that correspond to each of the 24 time zones.
The trick here is to remember that abbreviation “CAY” stands not for Cayman Islands, but for “Cayenne-Rochambeau Airport,” which is located in French Guiana (UTC/GMT -3 hours,) and “NOU” is for “Aeroport de Noumea – La Tontouta” on New Caledonia (UTC/GMT +11 hours.)
Another feature of the watch is that the UTC time is displayed not in a traditional “1-24” format, but demands you to add or subtract a certain amount of time from or to the current reading, which is displayed with the main hour hand on the main chapter ring.
Some may find it annoying, but I actually like the idea.
If legibility is the first thing that you consider when buying a new wristwatch, then the version with off-white dial seems to be a superior choice. While the one with black dial looks a lot dressier, it is the former that gives you superb readability not only in the bright of day, but also in the darkness of night, which seems to be of more importance.
Case & Straps
Coming in a medium-sized stainless steel case of just 42 millimeters in diameter and also being relatively thin, the Hamilton Khaki SkyMaster UTC will fit nicely a wrist of an average size. I also don’t see a reason not to wear it with formal attire: it was clearly designed not with pilot’s, but with travelling businessmen in mind.
Although I can’t say that leather straps that come with this timepiece have a terribly premium feel about them, they still have an aura of high quality about them. As for the stainless steel bracelet that features a combination of finely brushed and polished links, it, too, looks very solid.
Hamilton plans to sell the watch at a price of €945. It will be revealed in March at Baselworld 2011 show.
Hamilton Khaki SkyMaster UTC automatic watch specification
Price: €945 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, ETA 2893-2, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, second time zone (UTC/GMT)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Stainless steel
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 42.00 mm
Lug width: No data
Case height: No data
Dial: Off-white / Black
Water resistance: 300 meters
Case back: Solid, engraved