Initially released in 1957 as a race timing tool watch, the Omega Speedmaster is one of the most iconic modern chronograph timepieces ever made- not thanks to what it was made for but instead because of its historically important use in space and on the moon.
Three years before the Speedmaster's eventual qualification for spaceflight, numerous brands submitted their best watches to NASA in 1962, including the eventual contract winners - Omega. Following a long list of gruelling tests, the Speedmaster was selected in 1965 to be NASA's standard-issue space-faring timepiece and the rest, as they say, is history.
Omega has always had a relationship with space and also with the Snoopy character. While these Snoopy pieces have always been popular, with two iterations before the current example you see, not many know the historical context that underpins these iconic watches.
Just two days into the flight of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, one of the onboard oxygen tanks exploded, forcing the entire crew into the lunar module. Following the explosion, the ship was thrown off course, and the mission was to be abandoned. This meant that a perfectly timed 14-second long engine burn was required to put the ship back into Earth's orbit. Without their digital clocks, the crew relied on Jack Swigert's Omega Speedmaster to time the burn, ultimately proving successful and resulting in Omega being awarded the Silver Snoopy Award for ensuring the mission was saved.
With Snoopy being a longtime mascot for NASA, the Silver Snoopy Award is a special honour given to individuals in and associated with NASA for outstanding achievements in space flight.
Paying homage to the illustrious award with Snoopy in its 9 o'clock subdial, the 50th Anniversary Snoopy Speedmaster is perhaps the most distinctive of the three-anniversary models. With a dial made of silver, in reference to the Snoopy award, the hands and indices create a stark contrast to the dial thanks to their intense blue PVD coating. Continuing with this blue and silver theme, the subdials, bezel and nylon fabric are also the same blue colour as the hands and indices. While the watch looks stunning from the front, the real surprise comes when you flip the watch over.
It features a depiction of the Moon, Earth, and a white Command and Service Module (CSM) with Snoopy riding along inside. With Snoopy's CSM moving across the case back when the chronograph is engaged, Omega's innovative attention to detail is refreshing. Travelling around the far side of the Moon, Omega makes a direct reference to the trip the Apollo 13 astronauts were forced to take all those years ago. In addition to this, the Earth itself spins once per minute as it is connected to the seconds hand subdial, providing a nice subtle visual touch.
Powered by the modern moon watch movement, the manual-wind cal. 3861, this timepiece comes housed in an incredible Apollo 13 presentation box. A slimmed-down version of the large Moonwatch box, it features a Snoopy patch on top and an image of Snoopy on his dog house within. Supplied with a loupe, a pouch, and a soft cloth, this is as full a set as a timepiece can be.
Today, while the Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary Speedmaster is not a limited edition, it is produced in extremely low numbers that rival the Rolex Daytona and is perhaps the most in-demand piece from Omega today. Only existing clients with a sizeable previous purchase are entitled to be allocated a piece.