Hamilton Khaki Pilot Schott NYCBy Ken Kessler
Swiss by ownership and manufacture it may be, but Hamilton remains resolutely “an American brand”. While that begs a theme tune courtesy of Grand Funk Railroad, the company sustains its Yankee heritage with reissues of classic US military timepieces and other nods to its past. The latest example of this is a collaboration with another brand so red, white and blue that I get a lump in the throat just saying the name.
Schott NYC may mean more to British readers if described as “a US equivalent of Belstaff”, but more accurately, it’s the other way around: Schott was founded in 1913 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, while Belstaff was born later, in Staffordshire in 1924. Schott’s fame is based on its bomber jackets, while its founder, Irving Schott, was the first designer to use a zipper in a jacket. The company – still family-owned and still manufacturing in the USA – is now run by the third and fourth generations.
When it comes to undeniable coolness, there simply isn’t a rival to Schott: the company’s Perfecto is the motorcycle jacket worn by Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953), and two decades later by, well, pretty much all of the Ramones. In between, the late Peter Fonda wore a Schott “café racer” jacket in Easy Rider (1969). But what links Schott to Hamilton is that both companies supplied the US military forces in WWII, Hamilton with watches and Schott with parkas and aviator jackets.
Today, Schott manufactures outerwear made of leather, wool, nylon, canvas and down, as well as shirts, sweaters and accessories. It’s leather that finds its way to the new – and massive – limited edition Hamilton Khaki Pilot Schott NYC, a handsome, military-look timepiece measuring a beefy 46mm across. Schott created both a superlative strap and a hand-sewn, tartan-lined leather travel case that had the assembled pack of journalists drooling over it at the recent London launch.
Powering the watch is the H-30 automatic day-date movement with 80-hour reserve. Its dial is khaki green, with contrasting light green Super-LumiNova hands and numerals, the outer chapter featuring not 1-12 but the minutes in 5-minute increments. An inner ring shows the hours, which peep through the skeletonised tip of the hour hand – seriously clever. Day and date appear in an aperture at 3 o’clock.
Please, Hamilton, do us all a favour and let Schott put the strap into production for those of us who won’t manage to acquire one of the 1,892 pieces, the number honouring the year Hamilton was established and Irving Schott was born. To create this strap, Schott NYC specially selected each piece of top grain, full aniline, lightweight steer hide leather. Its colour is “Federal Standard Military 30099 Earth Brown,” the same leather used for the flight jackets during the war and to this day. Just like these jackets, it starts out stiff and sturdy but will acquire a unique patina. All I can say is “Gabba-Gabba-Hey”.
H-30 automatic day-date movement with 80-hour power reserve
46mm stainless steel, water resistant to 200m
FS30099 Earth Brown lightweight steer hide made by Schott NYC