Vintage watches have experienced a massive boom in popularity over the last decade. Previously, they were a niche collecting category. Transactions took place in the back rooms of prestigious dealers, whose locations were fiercely guarded. Without a personal recommendation, you were unlikely to be able to make it into such a secluded establishment.
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The vintage watch market is notorious for fakes and Franken watches, so it's essential to do your homework before buying one. It helps to talk to other collectors and join web forums about the watch you're interested in. You can also post photos to ask for feedback. You should be skeptical if a watch is too clean - it may not be the genuine article.
Vintage watches can be highly valuable, especially if they have a storied history. The coveted Explorer II, for example, sold for more than $17 million when it was auctioned off. Other coveted vintage watches, such as the "Big Red" or the "John Player Special," have been linked to famous personalities.
A watch's case should be carefully examined to look for major scratches. Pay special attention to how many there are, and if the scratches are uniform. Watches with a lot of scratches or those with excessively smoothed surfaces are not as desirable or valuable. A chrome-plated watch can also lose its plating, which can decrease its value.