Back in the days when I bought and sold vintage watches, an annual highpoint was a September visit to Milan, to see my dear friends at Grimoldi Milano. It was at their store in San Babila that I bought my first Panerai (a Mare Nostrum)), and Papa Anselmo, along with sons Roberto, Cesare and Giorgio became not only my “watch mentor”, but my Italian instructor, too.
It was nearly 20 years ago. Roberto, then in charge of the small, jam-packed shop in Piazza Duomo with new and second-hand stocks, knew I was a Hamilton enthusiast, as well as one who lusted after military watches. He had something rather special, not – as I anticipated – an actual Hamilton military issue, but something based on the Khaki. Its dial could have been lifted from a Khaki, with its triangle at 12, and white numerals against a black dial, but there the resemblance ended.
It was a feature I had never seen before, though I have since learned of one or two other models with this function: not one but two rotating bezels. I was instantly intrigued. The dial said “Timeplan” and “Automatic”, there was a small date window at 3 o’clock, the hour hand was a Mercedes-type, with dagger minute hand – all very Submariner – and the sweep seconds hand was red.
Surrounding this handsome, cod-military dial were the two bezels, the inner marked in Roman numerals, I-XII, a chunky affair with each numeral in a recess, but no detents, its bi-directional rotational path completely smooth. Its edges sloped down to a flat outer bezel, also bi-directional but with detents, marked in increments of “5” and ending in a triangle. With the two able to represent minutes and hours, a number of time-marking combinations were possible.