A Melding of
AMERICAN ORIGINALS

Hamilton Watch and Schott NYC collaborate on a classic “tough-guy” watch.

                               —By Carol Besler


The iconic Schott Perfecto, the uniform of rock stars and rabble rousers, was the original motorcycle jacket. It shot to fame after Marlon Brando wore one in the 1953 film The Wild Ones and was even banned from some high schools in the 1950s – because if you wore that jacket, you surely had an attitude problem. “It has transformative powers,” laughs Jason Schott, fourth-generation CEO of Schott NYC. “When you put it on, you feel like a badass.” Around the same time Schott was beginning its reign as the founder of the motorcycle jacket – it was the first company to sew a zipper into a jacket – another American company, Hamilton Watch, was supplying the U.S. military with pilot watches. Schott bomber jackets and Hamilton pilot watches both became standard issue during the war – authentic tough-guy gear, guaranteed to take whatever you could throw at it.

The two companies have now joined forces in what seems like a natural collaboration: the Khaki Pilot Schott NYC limited edition watch. “One day I came into the office and our product manager, Alfredo Bellaveglia, was wearing a Schott leather jacket that was 32 years old,” says Hamilton CEO Sylvain Dolla. “I thought it was so amazing, and it turns out he has a whole collection of Schott jackets. The next day, my 20-year-old son arrived home with a new Schott jacket. I started to look into the company, and I saw a lot of similarities with Hamilton. I got in touch with Jason, and two weeks later I was standing in their factory discussing a collaboration.”

The watch is big – 46 mm wide – and in the convention of authentic pilot’s watches, it has a large, highly readable dial, with plenty of glow-in-the-dark Super-LumiNova on the hands, numerals and markers. It adheres to the vintage aviation format of indexing minutes rather than hours on the main dial – in the days before sophisticated navigational instrumentation, pilots needed to precisely track the number of minutes left before running out of fuel. It contains an automatic movement, the caliber H-30, with a day-date function and a remarkable 80-hour power reserve (the standard power reserve for a mechanical watch is two days). It is water resistant to 200 meters, and priced at $1500, putting it in the top range of Hamilton watches.

The double stitched leather strap is a specific shade known as Federal Standard Military 30099 Earth Brown, made from the same tough leather used for flight jackets during the war (and still used today). The leather ages with a patina. It starts out stiff and sturdy and gradually becomes softer, taking on the shape of the wearer’s wrist. Over time, it bears the nicks and marks of life that make each one unique. “It’s their utilitarian functionality that gives them lasting appeal,” says Schott of the jackets. The pouch, with the same lining as the coats, doubles as a travel case, with slots for passport and billfold, along with a place to hook the watch into place. Hamilton watches are likewise time tested and rated to military standards. They are Swiss made, but the company began in the United States. The Khaki Pilot Schott NYC is a limited-edition release of 1892 pieces in honor of the year Hamilton was founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Schott was founded in 1913 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and is now based in Union, New Jersey.

Written on: January 22, 2020