Hidden in plain sight” might be more appropriate. It’s news to no one who loves fine watchmaking that, thanks to many factors, the prices of mechanical watches have been steadily climbing over the last few years, with — apparently — no end in sight. That’s made things a little tougher for die-hard horological enthusiasts who don’t necessarily have a king’s ransom to play with when it comes to satisfying their desire for a new “machine with a heartbeat”, as we call them at REVOLUTION — which is to say, most of us. But the good news is, a king’s ransom isn’t necessary, either.

Some value for money watches

In many respects, good design and interesting heritage can often be found in a purer form from firms that aren’t occupying the nosebleed seats when it comes to price. (After all, with the ability to charge high prices often comes the temptation to diminish value and increase profit.) The timepieces you’ll find in the following pages are a diverse group when it comes to design language. But one thing we think you’ll agree they have in common is that they’re all clearly the result of an attention to detail and an awareness of the importance of form following function, which is a rare commodity, no matter what the price.

In the following gallery, you’ll find stunning examples of value for money watches that especially catch our eye when it comes to offering a wonderful mix of beautiful design and great value. Some are incredibly practical, functional watches (in some cases, with terrific pedigrees as tool watches that have seen extensive real-life service), while others are exercises in sheer horological exuberance — watches that are a pure manifestation of the seductiveness of the world of mechanics. There are also watches that occupy a unique design niche, and do so while sacrificing nothing in functionality and the expression of instrumentality. The beauty of the group of timepieces gathered here for your viewing pleasure is that in many cases, all three traits are present.

Though the thesis behind the curation of this collection is that there’s no reason to think sky-high prices have to be paid for horological authenticity, great design, or technical superiority, we can say that all of the watches brought together in the following pages are indeed a wonderful value from that perspective as well. (All watches shown here — including one gold model — are priced under $6,000 at the time of publication; most are under $5,000, some well under.) Of course, value is always relative; there are extremely costly watches out there which, relative to their level of mechanical sophistication, rarity, and ability to hold their value (or likelihood of increasing in value), are excellent values as well. But it’s always worth taking a step back from the narrow focus and preoccupation with cost that high price can engender (and which has become so much a part of the landscape of collecting today, when actual horological hedge funds exist) and seeing just how diverse and rich the horological landscape can be when the notion that something is worthwhile because it’s expensive is set aside. When you see the timepieces we’ve found, set in the beautiful environment created for us by photographer Tomas Monka and illustrator Minni Havas, we think you’ll agree.

(left) The Ball Trainmaster One Hundred Twenty in 18k rose gold, with 39.5mm case,gray dial and brown crocodile leather strap
(opposite) The stainless-steel Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon Ceramic XV, with 42mm case, black dial and tapered steel bracelet

The Sinn Pilot Chronograph EZM 10, with 46.5 mm bead-blasted titanium case, matte black dial and black leather strap

(right) The MeisterSinger Singular, with 43mm stainless-steel case, black dial and matching crocodile-leather strap
(far right) The MeisterSinger NEO 1Z, with 36mm stainless-steel case, sunburst ivory dial and brown leather strap

(left) The Chronoswiss Pacific, with 40mm stainless-steel case, sunburst-finished dial and black leather strap
(opposite) The 44mm Timemaster Big Date, with DLC-coated stainless-steel case, black lacquered metal dial and rubber strap

(left) The Oris ProDiver Chronograph, with 51mm multi-piece titanium case, black two-piece dial with printed wave pattern, and titanium bracelet
(opposite) The Oris Artix Complication, with 42mm multi-piece stainless-steel case, black dial and black crocodile-print calfskin strap

(left)The Tutima Grand Classic Havana 781-01 chronograph, with 43mm satin-finished stainless-steel case and red-brown leather strap
(opposite) The Tutima Military NATO Chronograph T 760-02, with 43.5mm pure titanium case and bracelet

(right) The Hanhart Pioneer TwinDicator, with 45mm stainless-steel case, black dial, and riveted black calfskin strap with stainless-steel pin buckle
(opposite) The Hanhart Primus Pilot, with 44mm stainless-steel case, white dial and black calfskin strap