HANDS-ON: The Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary will spark joy in even the coldest heartNick Kenyon
The Omega Speedmaster is one of the most celebrated watches of the last half-century, in part because of the countless different versions the brand has released. But in a world where a limited-edition Speedmaster isn’t a new thing anymore, is the watch community still interested in another new release? This watch has put it beyond any doubt. Absolutely, yes, they are. People can’t get enough of the latest Snoopy Speedy, with waitlists stretching around the figurative block as people line up to strap one to their wrist. But what makes the latest Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary so exciting? Let’s take a closer look.
Most people will know the Omega Speedmaster was worn by NASA astronauts during the space race in the late 1960s, and even worn on the moon itself. This lunar heritage kickstarted the Speedmaster stampede with thousands of collectors around the world. What is less well known is how the watch saved the lives of astronauts during the near disastrous Apollo 13 mission in 1970. After an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the Service Module, John L. “Jack” Swigert relied upon the Speedmaster’s chronograph function to time a critical 14-second rocket burn that enabled him to correct the spacecraft’s course and return home safely.
For this, Omega was given the Silver Snoopy Award (an award that was usually only given to NASA staff) to recognise the contribution the Speedmaster watches worn by the astronauts made to the safe return of everyone on board.
The Silver Snoopy Award subsequently came to symbolise the relationship between Omega and NASA, with the brand releasing the Speedmaster Professional Snoopy in 2003. This limited edition of 5441 pieces was followed in 2015 by the release of the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award that was limited to an even leaner 1970 pieces. Both of these limited-edition watches featured the Snoopy icon in the 9 o’clock sub-dial, and have proven extremely popular, with the prices for pre-owned pieces growing steadily in the years after their release. That the new Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary is not a limited edition has immediately sparked considerable excitement. Now, let’s get into the watch itself.
The dial of the watch is made from galvanised silver and configured in a typical “panda” format with deep blue sub-dials. The blue of the sub-dials nicely matches the ceramic bezel that frames the dial, which features the tachymeter scale you’d expect on a Speedy of any type.
In the 9 o’clock sub-dial, where the running seconds sit, you’ll find the Snoopy icon with the text “50th Anniversary” as a cartoon reminder of why the Speedmaster is so special. It isn’t till you flip the watch over that you see why this particular Speedmaster is so significant.
Based on the standard-issue Speedmaster Professional, the 42mm stainless steel case is ever so slightly asymmetrical. This is due to the case being a touch wider on its right side, in order to offer the crown and chronograph pushers some protection by being mildly recessed into the case. The famous twisted lugs are present, with a sharp blend of polished and brushed surfaces that highlight the sweeping case lines. The case thickness is kept reasonable at 14.5mm, but considering the view you get when you turn the watch over, it’s more than acceptable.
On the caseback of the watch is a scene of the moon that has been specially produced to appear 3D, with the earth in the background, set against the expanse of the universe. The first thing you’ll notice is that the earth rotates once every 60 seconds as it’s connected to the running seconds sub-dial on the dial side. But the real magic happens when you activate the chronograph. After those 14 fateful seconds elapse, Snoopy appears in his own lunar module to take a trip over the surface of the moon. The cartoon character is suspended by a very thin transparent hand that is connected to the chronograph mechanism in an ingenious way of bringing Snoopy to life.
Now, there has been some criticism (likely by folks who weren’t fans of the Speedmaster to begin with) that this mechanical animation is a bit gimmicky. I couldn’t disagree more. There is something fantastically whimsical, pure and lighthearted that you feel when you see Snoopy making his way across the backdrop of space, and Omega should be applauded for their creativity in this complication.
You can show this watch to a child or a friend with no interest in mechanical watches and both will be equally impressed by the micro-mechanical marvel that is moving before their eyes. They don’t need to know anything about watchmaking, because Snoopy speaks to something more universal than the narrow world of horology. Snoopy reminds us of the fascination that we all felt as children when we learned about mankind going to the moon. That special feeling is a hard one to coax out of technically focused or serious-minded watch enthusiasts.
Beneath the dial of the Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary is the in-house, hand-winding Omega caliber 3861 that is supplemented with the mechanical animation. This caliber is a Master Chronometer certified movement, guaranteeing an accuracy of between 0 and +5 seconds per day. It features anti-magnetic capabilities up to 15,000-gauss and, despite the energy-draining caseback complication, still offers a respectable 50 hours of power reserve.
The strap is a navy blue nylon textile that is a similar colour to both the bezel and sub-dials. It is also secured with a pin buckle, that removes some of the bulk that comes with a folding clasp. The strap also hides another treat – embossed on the rear of the strap is the flight path of the Apollo 13 voyage that the Speedmaster famously travelled on, including the point where the crew used their watches to correct their course. This watch sure is all about the details!
Without a doubt, this is one of the most surprising and delightful watches of the year. Did we need another special edition Omega Speedmaster? Well, in this case, yes, because it offers something genuinely new and exciting. This isn’t a mere dial or bezel colour change. It’s a mechanical animation that brings to life a character that is very close to many of our hearts and tells a vital part of the Omega story. The fact that it is not a limited edition is the cherry on top that enables more collectors and enthusiasts around the world to be able to carry a small part of the Omega and NASA history on their wrist.
Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary price and availability:
The Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary is $14,700 AU and is not a limited edition. For more details, contact your local Omega boutique.
Made in partnership with Omega. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.