There was a time when the Americans made some incredible watches, competing in quality with the Swiss. Established in 1892, Hamilton was one of those companies at the top of the game. They had their own manufacture and produced in-house movements. Their motto was “America’s Finest Watch”, and they lived up to the billing, first with pocket watches and then with wristwatches. The Broadway Limited pocket watch became known as the “Watch of Railroad Accuracy”.
Realizing that wristwatches were the wave of the future, Hamilton brought out their first one in 1917, which was aimed at soldiers fighting in World War I. By the 1920’s, the brand was really cooking, producing watches such as the Oval, Barrel, Spur and including the Piping Rock.
The Piping Rock was introduced in 1928 and named after a ritzy Long Island country club to indicate its stature as one of Hamilton’s premier models. Influenced by the Art Deco movement, it was a handsome devil, slimmer and less clunky than other watches on the market due to Hamilton’s thin new movements, giving it a profile of only 8.6mm.
The creamy dial is just beautiful, clean and sleek with just the sub seconds at 6 o’clock and the Hamilton name at 12 o’clock. Stunning blued hands give a nice contrast and color. Instead of placing the hour numbers on the dial, the Roman hour numbers reside on an enamel bezel. Interesting flexible lugs contour to the wrist.
Though Hamilton placed their watches in gold-filled and sometimes silver cases, certain models got the gold treatment. The Piping Rock was one of them, having the distinction of 14K yellow or white gold with the white gold the more rare of the two.
The Piping Rock is more than just a good-looking watch, it’s also got some very cool sports history. Prior to receiving rings for World Series wins, the players received watches, a tradition believed to have been instituted by Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Yep, you guessed it, the Piping Rock was the watch, which was presented to the 1928 World Champion Yankees. You know, the dream team that included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The player’s name is engraved on the side opposite the crown, while the caseback is engraved with an eagle, American shield and bats along with the “Yankees World Champions” and the winning year 1928.
If you can even find one of these rare Yankee Piping Rocks, prices can spiral up to six figures because of the provenance, which is one of the 4 Q’s that determine a watch’s value. The good thing is that you can get this exact same watch that has a great story and historical significance at a fraction of the cost: $2,000-4,000 depending upon condition.