Long time fans of Bulang and Sons will know that we are long time fans of the Omega Speedmaster. One of the most iconic chronographs ever produced, it is steeped in the history of NASA space exploration – a heritage that is openly and expansively celebrated by Omega and shared with collectors through a programme of events and limited edition pieces. Today we will be looking at one of the coolest pieces that Omega released in 2015, the Silver Snoopy Award Speedmaster Apollo XIII 45th Anniversary Edition…
To understand the subtleties of this watch, it is key to understand the significance of the Snoopy Award. The Snoopy Award story begins in 1968 when NASA were keen to build up awareness of how important employees and contactors were in the process of getting their astronauts into space. Whilst all the ‘glory’ and media attention would always be on the astronauts, NASA were committed to acknowledge all stakeholders in the missions; the phrase “it takes a whole village to raise a child” is particularly pertinent to me and it was too to NASA.
Working with Peanuts creator Charles Shultz was already part of NASAs network, he was a big supporter of the space programmes. He agreed to get involved in the employee recognition scheme and personally drew the Snoopy character in an astronaut outfit that would become the award. The awards consisted of a sterling silver Snoopy pin, letter of commendation and a certificate that were personally presented by the astronauts to their chosen recipients. An additional bonus was that each pin had been ‘flown’ aboard the relevant mission shuttle and so was also a memento of space travel. To date over fifteen thousand such awards have been made! There is a nice touch in the package in that a (non-flown) Snoopy pin is included.
Photo by NASA
The Second Coming
The Silver Snoopy Award Speedmaster is actually Omega’s second such watch; the first was released in 2003. The 2003 model looked much more traditionally Speedy-esque with black dial, plastic bezel but a full-colour Snoopy graphic in the 9 o’clock subregister and full colour caseback graphic. The second version is strikingly different…
The watch has a white dial, with black printing (including a painted logo). I really like this stark and simple dial layout. There are a couple of very unusual details on the dial. The first is the Snoopy drawing again on the 9 o’clock sub dial…this time with a ‘thought bubble’ extending to above the hands with the text “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”. This phrase was actually a Hollywood version of what Apollo 13 Flight Director Gene Kratz said…although he later used it as the title of his autobiography.
The second interesting feature is a line of text along the seconds track (between 1 and 14 seconds) that asks “WHAT COULD YOU DO IN 14 SECONDS?” This is a reference to the crucial time needed by Apollo 13 to correct its course in its reentry to the earth’s atmosphere. The seconds hashes are replaced by small square windows; a nod to the frames of peanuts cartoon strips.
Back to Business
It’s not just the dial that is different on the second version either. Where on the first, the case back was a full colour cartoon the second version has a sterling silver ‘floating’ Snoopy. The 925 silver snoopy is a copy of the space flown NASA-issued issued, which is set against a blue enamel background and the effect looks like he’s floating – it’s a cool three-dimensional effect that works well. Around the circumference of the caseback are the engravings including the limited edition no (one of 1970 total pieces), Apollo XIII, “Eyes to the Stars” and 45th Anniversary detail.
The watch features a hardy sapphire crystal and has a ceramic bezel…this is a tough watch. The watches were delivered on a black, coated fabric strap with deployment clasp. This sets the watch off and gives the overall look balance, against the white dial; It’s a different look but one that works really well and makes the watch an interesting twist for lovers of the Speedmaster Professional watches.
It’s a big watch at 42mm (like the Tudor Heritage Chronos) but it has a proportionate depth that pulls the whole piece together nicely. The manual wind movement is the Omega cal 1861, which has a 48hr power reserve.
The reference number is, however, not one that anybody but the most die-hard fan could commit to memory: 3184.108.40.206.04.003…I think I’ll just call it the Snoopy 2!