So, 2012 came and went and we're all still here. So much for the Mayans and their predictive abilities. The past 12 months were also when the world economy was supposed to implode, Europe was supposed to return to the Dark Ages and Mitt Romney was expected to … well, OK, maybe that's going too far. The experts being so wrong never felt so right, but we're not out of the economic woods yet, so the prudent man in the market for a new timepiece should perhaps con-tinue to temper his spending by looking at watches costing less than HK$30,000.

When one thinks of pilot watches one thinks of IWC, Breitling and other brands rich in aviation history, but one should not discount Hamilton, which has an equally reputable pedigree, having been the watch of choice for the first commercial pilots to take to the skies. The Hamilton Khaki X-Patrol (below left) takes its inspiration from the dashboard of a cockpit, with a dial that is packed with indicators and indices. Included are three chronograph dials, indicating small seconds, 30 minutes and hours; and a day-date indicator at the three o'clock position. The 42mm, stainless-steel case houses the H21 chronograph movement, which is robust and reliable, and allows for an impressive 60-hour power reserve. There are three strap choices: sporty rubber; black leather; and stainless steel. The Hamilton Khaki X-Patrol is a serious pilot's watch but has an enticing price tag of only HK$14,000.

Fashion houses have been creating waves in the watch industry for a number of years, with each collection becoming more sophisticated in design and execution. Another reason for the rise of the fashion watch is competitive pricing. Take, for example, the Ermenegildo Zegna Sea Diver (above), priced at a tempting HK$25,500. This 42mm, stainless-steel and rubber-strapped watch has all the design chops of a diving watch and is backed up technically, too. The design is classic diver and, thankfully, Zegna has kept its branding in check. The watch comes with standard diver features, such as a unidirectional bezel and a screw-down crown. Water resistance on this watch is an impressive 300 metres, and the movement a solid ETA 2824 automatic, so it won't let you down when you're in the deep, although the 38-hour power reserve is a bit on the light side for a watch with so few functions.

Finally, we have the Tag Heuer Aquaracer 500m Ceramic (below right), which is a steal at HK$25,700. Tag Heuer is more famous for its racing and chronograph watches, but the brand is so technically accomplished in the field that people forget it makes excellent diver watches, too. Coming in a rather moody and fetching 41mm, black-titanium, carbide-coated case, this diver's watch also features a unidirectional bezel in black ceramic. On top of the standard screw-in crown and rubber strap you get with most diver watches, Tag Heuer has upped the ante with a screw-in case back that features a special diver's decoration as well as an automatic helium valve at the 10 o'clock position, meaning this watch will suffer no ill effects due to pressure if you hit the 500 metres the water resistance allows. The movement is a Tag Heuer Calibre 5 automatic, again another incredibly robust and reli-able movement but limited to 38 hours of power reserve, which is slightly underwhelming given the limited features of hours, minutes, seconds and a date indicator.