Often misquoted but never forgotten, Jack Swigert’s terse communication with the NASA Mission Control Center, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here”, is the stuff of legend. Following the explosion of an oxygen tank and the consequent drop in voltage in the command and service modules, the space odyssey of Apollo 13 could have very well ended in tragedy. Thanks to multiple pieces of equipment, specifically to their reliable mechanical watches – of course, Omega Speedmaster Professional – the Apollo 13 crew managed to return safely to Earth. And that made the Speedy worthy of NASA’s Snoopy Award. To celebrate half a century of this achievement, Omega introduces the new Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary.
Background – Speedmaster, Apollo 13 and Snoopy
As explained in this in-depth story, the Omega Speedmaster was part of the mandatory equipment for Apollo programme astronauts and was on the wrists of Apollo 13 crew members Lovell, Swigert and Haise. As all of you might know, the mission was interrupted before landing on the Moon following an explosion inside the service module. The crew was left with no other choice than to fix the situation with band-aid solutions and to use the lunar module and the attraction of the Moon as a way to return to Earth. The burn necessary for their return to Earth had to be calculated with absolute precision. Since most of the onboard equipment was jeopardised, the crew relied on their mechanical Speedmaster Professional watches to calculate elapsed times.
Once the crew had returned safely to Earth, the vital role of the Speedmaster in the rescue mission was recognised by NASA with the Snoopy Award – a special honour awarded to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success.
Playing on this achievement, the brand unveiled two watches as a tribute to the Snoopy Award obtained on 5 October 1970. The first watch, reference 3578.51, was introduced as a 5,441 limited edition in 2003. Almost identical to the standard Moonwatch, it featured a Snoopy badge in the small seconds counter and on the caseback. The second model, introduced in 2015 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Apollo 13, showed a white dial with several references to Snoopy, a 14-second track to remind the precise timing of the burn and a silver Snoopy badge on the caseback. This edition, reference 318.104.22.168.04.003, was limited to 1,970 pieces.
The Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13 and the award received by Omega, the brand has decided to create a new special edition – and understand by that, a SPECIAL edition, not a LIMITED edition. Indeed, no limitation comes attached with this Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary, which will be available from retailers as of this month.
This new model is based on the classic, iconic Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, but with updated materials, new colours and special features to make this piece unique in the collection. The stainless steel case retains the classic Professional asymmetrical case, with a 42mm diameter. The watch is protected by a double-domed sapphire crystal. The external tachymeter bezel, a founding element of the Speedmaster in 1957, is made of blue ceramic with the scale in white enamel. And it features the dot-over-90, something that Speedmaster fans will appreciate.
The dial of the Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary is made from solid silver and laser-engraved to reveal its surface. It features applied indexes and hands with a blue PVD coating, as well as an applied blue Omega logo. Snoopy plays a prominent role in the timepiece, first appearing as an embossed silver medallion on the blue sub-dial at 9 o’clock. He is shown wearing his famous spacesuit, in the exact style of the silver pin that NASA astronauts give to award recipients.
The most unique features are to be seen under the NAIAD LOCK caseback (it keeps all caseback engravings in the correct, upright position), which is made from sapphire crystal but doesn’t reveal the movement. Instead, Omega plays on the Snoopy and Moon theme to the max, and with animations. Snoopy has gone into orbit here, thanks to his animated black and white Command and Service Module (CSM) on a magical hand.
When the chronograph seconds hand is in use, Snoopy takes a trip around the mysterious far side of the Moon – just like the Apollo 13 crew – with the lunar surface decorated on the sapphire crystal using a unique micro-structured metallisation. Also, the Earth disc rotates once per minute, in sync with the watch’s small seconds hand, and symbolises the precise rotation of the Earth. The iconic quote, “Eyes on the Stars”, is written in the sky.
Powering this Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary is the recently introduced calibre 3861, an evolution of the iconic calibre 1861, now equipped with a co-axial escapement, boasting a 50h power reserve and meeting the ultra-demanding requirements of the Master Chronometer certification – including the 15,000-gauss magnetic resistance.
The watch is worn on a blue nylon fabric strap that matches the other blue elements. It is closed by a steel pin buckle and the trajectory of the Apollo 13 mission is embossed on the lining.
Availability and Price
The Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary reference 310.32.42.50.02.001 won’t be limited in production. It comes with a full 5-year warranty. It is presented in its own Apollo 13 presentation box, with a microfiber cleaning cloth, a brochure, and a magnifying glass for a close-up of all the details. It will be available in stores soon – October 2020 – and priced at EUR 9,500.
More details at www.omegawatches.com.