Omega's Speedmaster Professional has the honor of carrying the most unique award a watch has ever received: NASA's Silver Snoopy award. Two different models of this timepiece pay homage to the rescue of the Apollo 13 mission.
Limited special edition in honor of NASA's Silver Snoopy award
Based on the famous Moonwatch
Snoopy on the dial and case back
2015 model: white dial, Snoopy on the case back in silver and on the dial in black and white
2003 model: black dial, Snoopy on the dial and case back in color
Fourteen Crucial Seconds
In just 14 seconds, the Speedmaster Professional made history. That's how long it took for the astronauts to right the course of their damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft back to Earth in early 1970. The astronauts timed the 14 seconds using their Speedmaster Professional, NASA's official watch. The lives of the three men on board depended on the watch working perfectly. Otherwise, they would have missed Earth by thousands of miles and been lost in space.
However, the mission came to a happy ending on April 17th, 1970. The crew made it back to Earth, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean. NASA thanked Omega for the Speedmaster Professional's outstanding performance by awarding it with the Silver Snoopy award, NASA's highest honor. It's usually awarded to NASA employees for outstanding achievements or contributions relating to flight safety or missions. The prize is a sterling Silver Snoopy lapel pin showing Snoopy as an astronaut. Snoopy is NASA's mascot, and Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz personally designed the prize.
Luminous Snoopy on a White Dial
Omega created two special edition models of the Speedmaster Professional to honor the dramatic events of April 1970. The newer Snoopy model is the more striking of the two. Omega introduced it at Baselworld 2015, 45 years after the Apollo 13 mission. You immediately notice this watch's white dial, in contrast to the other Speedmaster Professionals, which have dark dials. The white watch has a few extras, too, such as a sleeping Snoopy on the small seconds subdial. While not obvious during the daytime, the little beagle is luminous and lights up in the dark.
The manufacturer chose white as the dominant color for this watch in order to replicate the Peanuts look, as the comics often appear in black and white. The first 14 seconds on the dial each have a frame resembling a comic strip panel with the inscription "What could you do in 14 seconds?" beneath them, a reference to those critical seconds on board Apollo 13. A quote from former NASA flight director Gene Kranz is above the axis of the hands: "Failure is not an option."
Silver Snoopy Case Back
The 2015 Silver Snoopy saves the main attraction for its case back, however. A sterling silver medallion with Snoopy as an astronaut adorns the case back, a reproduction of the actual award. The medallion is set against a blue enamel background, making it look as if he's flying through space. Each watch is unique, as the silver powder used to make Snoopy is applied by hand. The total number of watches with reference number 322.214.171.124.04.003 is limited to a run of 1,970, referring to the year of the Apollo 13 mission.
Twelve years before Omega released its 2015 Silver Snoopy award model, they had commemorated the achievement with another watch: the 2003 Snoopy award model. This watch has a black dial, making its design closer to the standard Moonwatch. Snoopy is featured in color on the small seconds subdial on the dial, and a larger version of this design is on the case back. The watch's use of bright colors on the case back made the 2003 Speedy a unique piece heavily sought after by collectors.
If you're interested in buying a Speedmaster Professional special edition Snoopy model, then you have to first decide between the 2003 model with a black dial and the 2015 model with a white dial.
When Omega introduced the new 2015 version of their special edition Silver Snoopy award watch, it cost 5,900 euros. Only one year later, the price for a new, unworn watch had risen to over 10,000 euros. According to the watch expert Robert-Jan Broer of Fratello Watches, the older model is also a coveted collector's item: "When it came out, it cost around 3,300 euros. Now, the price varies between 7,000 and 8,000 euros, and even more at auctions." Broer recommends either model if you want your Snoopy watch to be a solid investment.
The 2003 version (reference number SU 145.0031) had a limited run of 5,441 watches. With a limited run of only 1,970 watches, the 2015 Silver Snoopy award version (reference number 3126.96.36.199.04.003) is even rarer.
Solid investment, significant increase in value for both models
Price of the Silver Snoopy award model doubled a year after its introduction
2003 Snoopy award model: reference number SU 145.0031, limited run of 5,441
2015 Silver Snoopy award model: reference number 3188.8.131.52.04.003, limited run of 1,970
Manual Movements and Sapphire Glass
The Snoopy variants share many significant details with the normal Omega Speedmaster Professional. The stainless steel cases of the watches are all 42 mm, and the manual caliber 1861 with a 48-hour power reserve keeps the watches ticking. The movement has remained almost unchanged since the late 1960s and is based on a caliber from Lemania. The Speedmaster Professional is not only known for its use on the Apollo 13 mission, but also for its accompanying the first astronauts to land on the Moon on July 21st, 1969. Beforehand, NASA had tested many mechanical watches from different brands. The Speedy performed the best, withstanding extreme temperatures, vibrations, increases in velocity, and other strenuous conditions. The original Moonwatch used Hesalite (Plexiglas), as it doesn't splinter. The Snoopy models in turn use scratch-resistant sapphire glass.
Originally, Omega designed the Speedmaster to determine speeds during car races. In this way, it's comparable to the Rolex Daytona. These watches are two of the most renowned chronographs in the world.
Omega has a history stretching back all the way to 1848, when Louis Brandt began producing pocket watches in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds. Since then, they have developed into one of the most celebrated watch manufacturers in the world.