Which brand sets appointments at an altitude of 2,610 metres? The one and only Hamilton, which in this case had flown into Zermatt for the launch of its new Khaki Takeoff, issued in a limited edition in conjunction with one of the world’s most well-respected rescue teams. The famous company also serves as a learning centre for teams from dozens of different countries who come to the Valais mountains to gain unique experience of search-and-rescue missions in sometimes extreme Alpine conditions.
For Hamilton, this partnership is as much about heart-felt kinship as it is about prestige. Not only has Hamilton been historically committed to the field of aviation, but it has also proved a faithful ally, including by supporting one of the most brilliant aerobatics pilots, Nicolas Ivanoff, for the past ten years. It’s also been five years since Air Zermatt and Hamilton first crossed (flight) paths…
Inspired by the glaciers of the Valais region
This high-flying encounter gave rise in 2010 to the first Khaki model adorned with the famous Air Zermatt insignia. The next and most recent one shown here will be joining the 2015 collections. “We move at our own pace”, says Sylvain Dolla, CEO Hamilton. “We have no strict schedule; we carefully monitor the feedback from pilots who tell us what they would find really useful, and we do our best to deliver it the following year.”
As one would expect, this model boasts a generous 46.3 mm diameter. It is equipped with a specifically developed ETA H-31 calibre ensuring a 60-hour power reserve. But the most distinctive feature of this timepiece is the way it can be parted from its strap and thus transformed into a traditional fully-functional detachable chronograph that naturally finds its place on the cockpit instrument panel of the eight Air Zermatt helicopters. This system is nothing new for Hamilton, which had already used it for its Khaki Navy Pioneer, a model mounted at the time on a gimbal suspension system.
Another detail that betrays Air Zermatt’s vocation is the fact that this watch has a counter displaying the hours rather than the date and thus serving to measure the elapsed time in flights that last longer than one hour. The pushers of these chronographs are thus also placed at noon so as to be easily activated even when the watch is not on its strap. This ‘bullhead’ type of design is not the general rule at Hamilton, which finds it appreciable within this context of professional usage, but of no particular relevance to the public at large.
One model, three versions
The Khaki Takeoff is being introduced in two initial versions. The first is a 60-piece limited edition bearing the insignia of the mountain rescue service along with red markings. Why 60? Sylvain Dolla salutes the bright idea expressed by the pilots: “From the Matterhorn, you can see 60 mountains towering to 4,000 metres and above. The Takeoff will thus not be numbered, but instead each of the models will carry the name of one of these 60 peaks”. Collectors take note: the most famous summits will thus be embodied in what are by nature one-of-a-kind creations. By order of engraving, the Mont Blanc will be the equivalent of watch number 1, the Matterhorn will be number 11, the Jungfrau number 36… and so on and so forth, each encapsulating a proud alpine and horological heritage.
Alongside this highly exclusive model, another one launched at the end of 2014 will be limited to 1,999 units and similar in all ways, apart from yellow tachometric markings. Finally, Hamilton has also announced the November 2015 launch of a three-hand plus date model with a more urban-style 42 mm case.