If you’re reading this review, chances are you may have some knowledge of the history of this watch. I’ll briefly cover the history for those who don’t really know it.
The Hamilton Pilot Pioneer Mechanical is, in essence, a reissue of the Hamilton W10, which was a military watch popularly issued for Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots. The W10 featured the Broad Arrow mark on the dial, and the Pilot Pioneer does not as it is not a military issued watch. Otherwise, the designs of the two are near identical.
The case measures 33mm x 36mm x 9.95mm, with a lug to lug of 41.6mm, and lug width of 18mm. The case width measurements can be a bit confusing to interpret, so the best way to think of it is the 33mm being the measurement of the case from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, and the 36mm being the measurement from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock (excluding the crown). The result of this correctly sized cushion case is a watch that is supremely comfortable on the wrist. If Hamilton decided to make the case larger than it should be to appeal to the mass market, I would absolutely not have bought this watch.
The case back is solid, which I prefer in this instance as the finishing on the movement is minimal. It’s inscribed with the basics, including the serial number of the watch (which I’ve censored). The water resistance is 100 meters, so I would imagine it is actually something you can swim with if paired with the appropriate strap.
The watch is powered by the caliber H-50, which is absolutely incredible to have in a watch of this price. It is a modified ETA 2801-2 with an advertised power reserve of 80 hours. The winding is buttery smooth, and I’ve been experiencing timing performance at the time of writing this (-2.5 seconds a day).
The dial execution on this watch is simply stunning. It has a beautiful texture that is dynamic in different lighting situations. In dim lighting the dial almost appears to be a flat, deep black, while in brighter lighting the texture is incredibly visible and the dial almost takes on a dark grey color. Faux patina is typically a negative for me, yet on this watch it’s done so well that I think a bright white lume would actually look worse. The legibility is as good as it gets, and this is helped by there being no needless writing on the dial. It simply reads “Hamilton” below the 12 marker, and “Mechanical” above the 6 marker. The dial is protected by a mineral crystal, so just take some extra care not to scratch or otherwise damage the crystal.
The Pilot Pioneer is sold either on a nylon NATO or a leather NATO style strap. I’ve elected to never wear one of my watches on a NATO ever again, so I promptly removed the nylon NATO mine came on and put it on a Molequin Short Smooth Gris strap. If you’re not a fan of NATO straps, I recommend doing something similar.
I’ve owned this Hamilton for just over two weeks at the time of writing, and it is perhaps the best modern watch I’ve ever seen at this price point. The greatest flaws of this watch are not having better strap options, and the printing on the dial is somewhat sloppy in certain spots. The upsides are that the watch is absolutely incredible, and extremely affordable in this crazy world of watches. The Pilot Pioneer Mechanical regularly trades for far less than retail both used and on the grey-market.
Retail Price: $845 (Nylon), $895 (Leather)