NEW YORK, NY.-
The 1923 New York Yankees World Championship Watch presented to Babe Ruth, the most iconic American athlete of all, realized $717,000 on Feb. 22, as part of Heritage Auctions
' Sports Platinum Night Auction, exceeding its' pre-auction estimate of $750,000+. The final price includes 19.5% Buyer's premium.
"It's hard to deny that this is the most important piece of New York Yankees memorabilia that exists," said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles at Heritage Auctions. "For decades it was thought lost to history and now, with this auction and this price, it takes its rightful place as one of the crown jewels of sports memorabilia."
The watch was awarded to the Babe, and all of his New York Yankees teammates, when they bested the crosstown rival New York Giants in six games and where Ruth had a fantastic series, batting .368 and dinging three homers.
After it was given to him, the pocket watch remained with Ruth as one of his most prized possessions. As his terminal cancer progressed later in his life, he gifted it to his close friend Charlie Schwefel as something to remember him by.
The watch remained in Schwefel's possession for just a few years before his wife gave it to her nephew, Lewis Fern, who had also befriended Ruth and caddied for him many times. Fern kept the watch for decades until it was privately sold into one of the finest sports collections in the world in 1988, where it remained until this auction.
The watch is a 14 karat gold "Gruen Verithin" beauty in unique pentagonal format. The verso is engraved with a miniature scene of a pitcher, hitter and catcher, and a ball in flight in their midst. Framing the scene are the historic words, "Yankees, World's Champions 1923." The "Babe Ruth" engraving at the upper edge was added by Ruth just prior to gifting the symbolic memento to Schwefel. The rear case pops open to reveal further engraving, most notably the original text announcing, "Presented by Baseball Commissioner to George H. Ruth." Just above we find the rest of Ruth's late 1940s addition, reading, "To My Pal Charles Schwefel."
Earlier in the same auction "Shoeless Joe" Jackson's 1911 rookie season game-used bat stunned the auction audience by selling for $956,000.