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Lot
80003

1928 Lou Gehrig's New York Yankees World Championship Wristwatch....

2011 August Chicago Signature Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Auction #7037

 
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Auction Ended On: Aug 4, 2011
Item Activity: 14 Internet/mail/phone bidders
6,689 page views
Location: Muvico
9701 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018

Description:
1928 Lou Gehrig's New York Yankees World Championship Wristwatch. If one were to imagine a hypothetical standardized test for institutions of higher baseball learning, the following question might appear within:

Babe Ruth is to Lou Gehrig as the 1927 New York Yankees are to _________.

The proper answer: the 1928 New York Yankees.

Allow us to explain. Babe Ruth and the '27 Yanks effectively enjoy a mythical status among collectors and historians alike, representing the pinnacle of individual and team brilliance respectively. In the absence of either, the exploits of Lou Gehrig and the 1928 Yankees would assume that abandoned mantle, as each still stands head and shoulders above the remainder of the competition.

As the Hall of Fame first baseman had done in the fabled 1927 campaign, Gehrig took the top rung of the American League ladder for RBI's again in 1928, a fact made the more astonishing when considering the frequency with which the Babe had cleared the bases immediately prior to Gehrig's plate appearances. Yet Gehrig remained shackled to his perception as the Babe's sidekick. Lou put it best when he quipped, "I'm not a headline guy. I know that as long as I was following Ruth to the plate I could have stood on my head and no one would have known the difference."

But as the Babe brought pure, unbridled joy to the Golden Age of the Yanks, Lou supplied the grace and nobility, so Heritage is humbled by the opportunity to present to the collecting community one of the most important Championship awards ever made available for sale, the wristwatch earned for Lou Gehrig's extraordinary service in capturing the New York Yankees' third World Championship.

A true masterpiece of art deco timepiece design, the presented Hamilton "Yankee Piping Rock" watch is intensely coveted for more than simply its relevance to baseball's greatest age/hero. The design is considered the crowning achievement of the period's leading manufacturer of timepieces, and has been widely reproduced in more recent decades. But advanced watch collectors are well aware that the original production was limited only to players and staff of the 1928 Yankees, signifying an original population of fewer than three dozen. Of this population, fewer than five have surfaced in the collecting hobby. "Holy Grail" terminology is bandied about far too often in the cataloging of collectibles, but is fully appropriate in this instance.

Much like its original owner, the timepiece exudes a dignified and unassuming countenance, certainly a far cry from the gem-encrusted monstrosities of modern Championship jewelry. Roman numerals adorn the black circular bezel, set upon a fourteen karat white gold case still linked to its original leather bands. The wear on the band recalls the circumference of Gehrig's wrist to this day. Skillfully engraved on the left edge of the case is the owner's identification: "Henry L. Gehrig." But the aesthetic climax appears in the design engraved upon the verso of the case, an eagle clinging to a shield and crossed bats situated amidst text reading, "Yankees, 1928 World Champions."

The watch is not currently operational, but we have no reason to believe that its ticking pulse could not be revived by an expert in the field. For collectors in the watch field, we supply the following technical details as provided by our resident timepiece department head Jim Wolf: movement grade 979, nineteen jewels, serial number 2903640. The original records of the Hamilton Finishing Department indicate that 979 movements with serial numbers from 2903001 and 2904000 were delivered between 10/27/28 and 12/18/28, perfectly matching post-Series production. The condition is exactly as one would desire--clearly worn and cherished by its presentee, but free of anything which could be characterized as damage. The extraordinary convergence of historical import to both baseball and timepiece collectibility seems perfectly appropriate here, mirroring the partnership between Ruth and Gehrig that set the Murderer's Row-era Yankees in a league of its own.

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