Vintage FAKES ( Reproduction Watches )
Fakes are a big problem, especially fakes of vintage wrist watches. These watches are meant to deceive. The Orient, China, and other countries are making reproductions of everything these days. These fakes are not the junk we saw in the past that were obvious and of poor quality.
Rolex and the high value watches new watches have been faked and continue to be faked in high numbers. I have seen literally thousands of fake Rolexes. However, now most any vintage wristwatch that is worth several hundred to a few thousand dollars is being faked.
Recently, I have seen some very good fakes of WWII military watches. Not so honest dealers claim that they do not know if they are new old stock or not. But, I know what they are and you need to be very careful. FAKES. Beware, beware, beware. I purchased several empty cases marked on the back with BU Ships. However, instead of being engraved, the lettering appears to be either acid etched or laser etched. These cases are beautiful, and look just like the original. However, if you screw off the back, there is no trade mark inside. They are new, likely made in China.
Also, some vintage watches are marriages. The dial and case may be original, but the movement may not be original. In military watches, I have seen Elgin movements in Hamilton cases, etc. Beware of reproduction pocket watch dials. The old glass enamel dials often chipped, so many watches have reproduction or incorrect dials. It is OK if you know it, but when it is advertised as mint original, then that is false advertising.
As with all antiques and vintage pieces, you need to be careful in buying from someone you do not know, especially if they are at auction with NO RETURN.
Pocket Watch Cases
American pocket watch cases were not typically made by the factory that made the movement. There were case companies (like Star, Fahys, etc) and there were factories that made movements - Elgin, Hamilton, Waltham, Illinois, etc. Most American pocket watch movements were of standard sizes, for example 18 size, 16 size, etc. The person buying the watch bought the movement, and then picked out a case. So, a given 18 size movement can be fit in many different 18 size cases. There are inexpensive nickel cases and expensive 18K gold cases. However, if you find an early 18 size movement in a very late 18 size case, you might suspect that the movement is in the wrong style case.
Now, some special pocket watches came in marked cases. All Howard watches (the newer Keystone Howard) came in cases marked Howard. Many of the later Hamilton railroad watch cases were marked Hamilton even if not made by Hamilton. Also, later Bunn Special movements were typically in Bunn Special cases.