It goes without saying that fans of Omega Speedmaster are some of the most ardently passionate people within the watch community and, indeed, the general population. As a watchmaker, Omega understand and foster this enthusiasm, and have this year acknowledged the legions of Speedy supporters with a very special new release. To commemorate one of the most important moments in Speedmaster history, the Biel-based brand has produced the all-new Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary, and this old dog has a very new trick up its sleeve.
Behind the sapphire caseback of the Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary is a mechanical animation when the chronograph is activated that shows Snoopy seated in his Command and Service Module (CSM), making a journey to the far side of the Moon.
The moon itself is ‘painted’ onto the sapphire crystal caseback using a “micro-structured metallisation” process, and sits in front of a disc with the Earth on it, creating a sense of distance between the two.
The Earth disc sits directly behind the 9 o’clock running seconds sub-dial and, as a result, will rotate just as the Earth does, except once every 60 seconds. Surrounding the Earth disc is the expanse of space, dotted with stars and the text “Eyes on the Stars”, inspiring anyone attempting a task that others think is too difficult.
But before we get too deep into what this new reference has to offer, let’s remind ourselves why the Silver Snoopy Award is so significant to both NASA and Omega.
The general guideline for receiving the award, according to NASA’s website, is carrying out an “outstanding performance, contributing to flight safety and mission success”. Although you get the idea, the wording is quite vague and lacks the essence of heroism which is truly what earns the silver pin. There are even six criteria, which may make you eligible for a Silver Snoopy should you meet two or more of the requirements. They vary from “contributing to one or more major cost saving/cost avoidance” to “performing a single specific achievement which contributed towards attaining a particular program goal”. The latter gives slightly more of an indication what we’d expect to see, but it still isn’t quite full of the heart we want. The part that finally makes the award’s importance sink in is that fewer than one per cent of aerospace workers receive it annually. Now we can see this isn’t just any reward for a “job well done”.
When NASA introduced the Silver Snoopy Award in 1968, it was a way of thanking exceptional individuals for their contribution to something greater than themselves. The space program was like many government initiatives at the time — ambitious, underfunded, and incredibly dependent on success. To excel in your job for NASA wasn’t just to impress your co-workers, it was to directly alter the course of history and bring pride to the United States of America. Snoopy, already an icon of North American pop culture, symbolised the kind of patriotism that makes people get out of bed with a smile and get the job done.
The Moonwatch story is engrained into almost everyone who has heard the name ‘Omega’ and, in a lot of cases, is the gateway drug between liking watches and loving them. Learning about the stories a design can carry is what keeps people up at night, deep-diving through Wikipedia articles and staring at the photographs, and the Speedmaster Moonwatch’s story is one of the few that has actively saved lives. After being the first watch worn on the Moon in the Apollo 11 landing, the Omega Speedmaster was reprising its role as NASA’s astronaut’s watch for one subsequent Moon trip, Apollo 13. However, the mission was destined to fail. Before they’d even reached the Moon, an oxygen tank exploded, causing catastrophic damage to their ship. Survival for the three-man crew was now the only goal, and it was Jack Swigert’s Omega Speedmaster that brought them home.
With the spacecraft’s instruments damaged, and manual control the only option, Swigert used his Speedmaster’s chronograph to time a 14-second burn of the lunar module’s propulsion system, correcting the drifting vessel’s course to slingshot around the gravity of the Moon, and flinging them back to Earth. Now we can see how a wristwatch was able to excel in its duties, performing that critical task, which beyond doubt earned it a Silver Snoopy — the mark of a NASA hero.
The latest watch to commemorate this remarkable award features the classic 42mm steel Speedmaster case, replete with the attractively twisted lugs and domed sapphire crystal covering the dial. The Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary also features blue highlights across the dial and bezel, as well as the all-important image of Snoopy in the 9 o’clock sub-dial, complete with space helmet and briefcase.
The blue bezel is ceramic and features the enamelled tachymeter scale you would expect to find on your Speedmaster, with a treat for the collectors found in the “dot over ninety”. The sub-dials are the same blue as the bezel and contrast against the white of the rest of the dial, which is made from silver. The hands, hour markers and nylon textile strap are all also similar shades of blue, making for a coherent overall impression. But it isn’t till you flip the watch over that the watch literally comes to life.
Under the animated caseback hides the in-house hand-winding Omega caliber 3861, a Master Chronometer certified movement that guarantees its accuracy to be between 0 and +5 seconds per day on average. Even with the extra complication of the animated Snoopy scene, the Omega caliber 3861 still boasts 50 hours of power reserve and also includes 15,000-gauss of magnetic resistance.
So if you’re a Speedy fan, a NASA fan or even a Snoopy fan, the new Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary has something exciting to offer, and marks an important milestone in the relationship between Omega and NASA during the space race.
Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary price and availability:
The Omega Speedmaster ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary is AUD$14,700 and is not a limited edition. Yes, you read that right. There’s a Snoopy for everyone. They are expected to be available by the end of October 2020. For more details, visit Omega right here.