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The branded mechanical wristwatch – technology seemingly made ‘obsolete’ by the onset of the digital age – continues its renaissance.

Forget the smartwatch. It is something altogether more old school that has come to encapsulate the coveted masculine attributes of style, status and engineering.

In particular, well-preserved ‘sports models’ from the 1940s onwards. Explorers, Submariners, Seamasters and Speedmasters often bought by their original owners as ‘tools’ to aid their working day, have enjoyed remarkable price appreciation. Built to last, they can be worn every day and the knowledge that these most macho of watches have seen ‘action’ only adds to their appeal.

Plenty of choice

However, while a week seldom passes without a five-figure sum bid for a vintage branded sports watch by one of the ‘bullet-proof’ brands, these do represent a subset of the market.

Not every Rolex or Omega is priced in four figures and plenty of choice is available among the lesser-known vintage makers, many of them victims of the era now known as the ‘quartz crisis’ when the Swiss watch-making industry shrank by two-thirds in the 1970s-80s.

Values have accelerated for the technically innovative watches of Nevada (makers of the Antarctic, a watch first sent to the South Pole in 1957) or those by Enicar, a firm that supplied its Sherpa family of timekeepers to mountain climbers and divers.

Doxa diving watches and the Vintage Seiko 6139 and 6138 chronographs (Pogues) are increasingly hard to find in good condition.

As this selection of 10 watches from the 1970s and earlier, all sold for below £2000 hammer shows, collectors priced out of the market are finding better value elsewhere.

Not every Rolex or Omega is priced in four figures and there is plenty of choice among the lesser-known vintage makers

All prices in captions are hammer prices