Monday, August 13, 2012

Auction Gold - Oliver Kuechle's 1939 Championship Wristwatch

Legendary Auctions has released its August 2012 auction preview, and there's a beautiful piece therein for fans of Packers history.

Lot #1018: 1939 Green Bay Packers Championship Watch Presented to Journalist Oliver Kuechle

In 1934, noted Milwaukee Journal sports editor Oliver Kuechle helped negotiate an agreement between the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee city officials to stage two games per year at Milwaukee's State Fair Park—a venue with 10,000 more seats than Green Bay's Old City Stadium. Five years later, the NFL pressed the Packers to hold the 1939 Championship Game there, too. Green Bay blanked the Giants 27-0—marking the first shutout in NFL playoff history—and team executives bestowed Kuechle with this championship wristwatch in honor of his longtime affiliation with the Pack. The Hamilton watch measures 3/4" x 1" and features a gold Schwab & Wuischpard casing ("14K GOLD FILLED S & W"). The reverse is engraved, "O. KUECHLE 'PACKERS' WORLD CHAMPIONS 1939." It is possible to set the time, but the timepiece does not appear to run. Nice EX/MT exterior with moderately tarnished face and modern leather wristband. As a side note, it was Kuechle who coined the nickname "Hungry Five" for the quintet of Depression-era businessmen—among them, Curly Lambeau—who succeeded in keeping the Green Bay franchise afloat.
It's a sharp piece.

I've only seen one 1939 watch before, a similar Hamilton watch issued to trainer Carl "Bud" Jorgensen.

I love the inscription on the reverse.

O. Kuechle
World Champions

I don't know if the watchband is original; Hamilton did use Spiedel bands on its wristwatches. If so, the gold stamping is in excellent shape.

Oliver Kuechle was, as the auction catalog notes, a hugely influential figure in early Packers history. Even if his only contribution had been giving the "Hungry Five" their sobriquet, his place would be assured. Kuechle's contibutions went much deeper than that, however. As a leading voice in Milwaukee sports, he was a loud and persistent booster of the team in Wisconsin's biggest city. After the Packers' first attempt at playing Milwaukee home games in Borchert Field, a cramped, wooden minor league baseball park, Kuechle helped broker a deal for Curly's boys to play at State Fair Park, a venue much more suited to the sport. State Fair would be the Packers' home away from home for the next seventeen seasons, giving the team access to a larger fanbase.

Kuechle worked his way up from sportswriter (covering, among other great events, Jesse Owens's record-setting performance at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin) to sports editor of the Milwaukee Journal. He retired in January of 1972.

The auction will be open for bidding, with a minimum bid of $300, on August 20th.



Sweet looking watch I would love to have that in my collection.

rosey123 said...

I love vintage watches! This one truly looks gorgeous.