July 25th to the 30th is the Atlanta Braves’ “Hank Aaron Week”, an annual celebration of Henry Louis Aaron, one of America’s greatest baseball players. I was there, at Truist Park, on July 28th, for the game and celebration of Hank Aaron’s life and legacy. The Braves played the Milwaukee Brewers, another MLB team Aaron played for. It was a great game, with the Braves winning 10 to 7, pulling ahead in the second half.
I was there on behalf of Oris. The brand is known for its excellent collaborations with environmental and humanitarian organizations, and its press events are equally impressive. There was no champagne or hors d’oeuvre — that’s not Oris’ style. No, we were given a tour of the Atlanta Braves stadium, Truist Park, followed by a heartwarming press conference in a room off of one of the stadium’s tunnels. Revealed to us was a story about an incredible baseball player, humanitarian, and determined man: Henry Louis Aaron. Also revealed to us was a watch that honors Hank Aaron and his work, both on and off the field.
To those of you that don’t know, Hank Aaron was one of American baseball’s greats. With humble beginnings in a racially segregated American South, Aaron’s dream of playing baseball was buoyed by a drive to succeed and talent for the game. He quickly rose through the leagues, becoming one of very few African Americans to play for the MLB at the time. Originally signing with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, the team ultimately moved to Atlanta to become the Atlanta Braves. Aaron played 21 seasons with the Braves, wearing the number 44 on his jersey almost from the beginning.
Throughout his career Hank Aaron shattered many baseball records. He still holds the record for career runs batted (RBI) at 2,297, as well as extra base hits and total bases at 1,477 and 6,856, respectively. He ranks in the top five in many other records, easily supporting the claim of his greatness. But what Aaron is probably most remembered for is breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record.
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The Pinnacle Moment
On April 8th, 1974, at bat on the home turf of the Atlanta Braves stadium, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking the record previously held by baseball legend Babe Ruth. As he ran the bases to a wildly cheering crowd, Aaron was joined on the field by his parents, supporters, and the press. It was a monumental moment for baseball. It was a monumental moment for Hank Aaron.
Leading up to that home run, beginning well before the end of the previous baseball season as Aaron approached the record, he became inundated with hate mail and death threats. While traveling with the team, Hank Aaron had to stay in hotels under a pseudonym, and many wondered if he would survive to break the record. But through such difficulty Aaron pushed on, never letting hate and bigotry get in the way of his dreams.
A Lesser Known Hank Aaron
Upon retiring from playing baseball in 1976, Aaron returned to work for the Atlanta Braves as an executive. in 1982, Aaron was made the Braves’ vice president and “Director of Player Development”. This made him one of the first non-white men to have an upper-level management position.
Being the Director of Player Development played right in Hank Aaron’s strengths. Above all, beyond his athletic prowess and fame, Aaron was interested in not only being a good man but in lifting those up around him. In this capacity, he was able to do such work, and players that knew him recall that when you were called to Hank Aaron’s office, it wasn’t to have a conversation about your batting average. Hank was interested in people, and more often wanted to talk about families and life than baseball.
Hank Aaron was active in community development and charity work outside of baseball as well. There are a number of charitable foundations in existence today bearing Hank Aaron’s name and mission to help others. One such organization, the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, was started by Hank and his wife Billye Aaron. Its mission is to uplift and provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth to develop their skills and pursue their dreams. Of course, this takes the form of help and scholarship for budding athletes, but also for aspiring dancers, musicians, and teachers. To date, the Chasing the Dream Foundation has donated millions of dollars toward education and medicine. Though Hank Aaron passed away in 2021 at the age of 86, the foundation is still led by his wife, Billye.
The Hank Aaron Limited Edition Big Crown Pointer Date
Billye Aaron was at the press conference for Oris’ Hank Aaron Limited Edition. She spoke much about the impact Hank Aaron had on everyone’s lives and spoke to his character and kindness. VJ Geronimo, CEO of the Americas for Oris, was there to introduce the watch and formally presented Mrs. Aaron with the first watch. It was a touching moment, as Mrs. Aaron emphatically said: “This… is a moment.” And it was. Hearing from not only Mrs. Aaron but former teammates and coaches really put into perspective what an exceptional person Hank Aaron was. Yes, he was a phenomenal ball player but, perhaps more importantly, he was a golden example of a good man.
Also presented watches that evening were two players that had previously been awarded the Hank Aaron Award, developed in 1999 to honor the overall best offensive player of a season. Andruw Jones was given the Hank Aaron Award in 2005 while playing for the Atlanta Braves. He was there with us to speak about and honor Hank Aaron. The other recipient was Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers, there at the park that evening playing against the Braves. At some point in the evening, VJ Geronimo stepped out to present him with his watch. Eventually, each recipient of the award will receive a Hank Aaron watch to further commemorate their achievement and keep the memory and mission of Hank Aaron alive.
Specs and Details
The Hank Aaron Limited Edition follows the design language of Oris’ other Big Crown Pointer Date watches. It measures 40mm in diameter with classic styling like fluted bezel and cathedral hands. The dial is a shimmering white accented with the red and blue of Hank Aaron’s Braves jersey. Time and date are displayed with Oris’ iconic pointer date hand and date numerals around the outer edge of the dial. The case is stainless steel with a screw-down crown and sapphire glass with an anti-reflective coating on the inside. Water resistance is 5 bar.
The case back is solid and features an engraved likeness of Hank Aaron batting his record-breaking 715th homerun. Inside the watch is Oris’ 754 caliber with the trademarked red rotor, built off a Sellita SW200-1 base. This provides a 38-hour power reserve beating at 28,800 A/h.
The watch comes on a blue leather strap with white stitching made to emulate the stitching on a baseball. Also included with the watch is a red, white, and blue fabric pass-through strap and strap change tool. The box everything comes in is also blue with a bold “44” on the top — Hank Aaron’s number, now retired from the Atlanta Braves forever. This is a limited edition of 2,297 watches — the number of Hank Aaron’s “runs batted in” (RBI), still an unbroken record. These limited edition watches cost $2,500 USD, with a percentage of sales going towards the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation.
Another Home Run for Oris
The Hank Aaron Limited Edition is a handsome watch regardless of its affiliation. But attached to the legend that is Hank Aaron as well as the Chasing the Dream Foundation, this watch elevates to a collector’s piece for a good cause. Oris is all about getting positive messages across, and for baseball fans and humanitarians alike, I can’t think of a better representative than Hank Aaron. What he achieved in regard to sports, civil rights, and charity has been matched by very few. Maybe this becomes someone’s special “baseball watch”. Maybe it becomes someone’s only watch. Whatever role it plays it will no doubt be a good watch, and that’s just how Hank Aaron would’ve had it.