Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary
There are a handful of iconic chronographs globally, and the Moonwatch is, no doubt, the greatest of them all since it first landed on the moon. As trivial as this statement might sound, the truth is that the only timepiece to have ever outperformed a Moonwatch is...a Moonwatch. It all happened in 1970, during the Apollo 13 mission, "the successful failure" as defined by NASA. A few years ago, that story was screen played, starring Tom Hanks and other actors playing Lovell Jr., Swigert and Haise Jr., the three astronauts who found all of a sudden in trouble but adopted an out-of-the-box solution to turn the potential loss of life into one of the most unexpected survivals since space exploration had ever started. The majority of film lovers are not aware that astronauts ultimately saved their lives, thanks to the NASA-qualified Speedmaster Moonwatch they had wrapped around their spacesuits, which replaced the on-board instrumentation that went off while traveling hundreds of thousands kilometres afar from planet earth.
With the Apollo 13 space mission's success story, the Speedmaster turned from being the solely space-approved timepiece to a legendary chronograph. The astronauts used a Moonwatch to precisely time the duration of the engines' ignition in an attempt to correct the Lem trajectory and safely take the route back to planet earth. Those elapsed 14 seconds separated success from failure and made history. To sum it up, if NASA's first lunar landing ensured the "only watch worn on the moon" first-page news, the Apollo 13 mission proved far more challenging and confirmed the Moonwatch's unrivaled technical prowess back then. Thus, conceiving and manufacturing a new Omega Snoopy and an anniversary model like the Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary required a product and marketing effort as extraordinary as the expectations raised by the whole watchmaking community.
The rumors ahead of the reveal and an unexpected marketing choice
The Apollo 13 crew safely landed on April 17, 1970; I guess Omega would have loved to reveal the new Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary back in April, although the brand was awarded the Silver Snoopy Award in late 1970, on October 5 of the same year. Here is the reason why the brand finally took the curtain off the new one last October. Throughout 2020, Omega fans have unstoppably (and unsuccessfully) surfed the Internet in search of leaks, scoops, renders of what the commemorative timepiece might have looked like.
Released as a non-limited edition model, the Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary marks a commercial strategy aimed at contrasting speculation, too, in my opinion. Just check a 2015 Silver Snoopy's asking price, and you'll discover an Omega Moonwatch Silver Snoopy looks far more relevant from a financial speculation's standpoint rather than from a true collector's perspective.
It is currently the only sports watch in steel to quote from five to over six times higher than the original listed price. From a product standpoint, the Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary is the landing point of a very ambitious project; being unlimited is all but being available. I'm quite sure a flagship product this refined will roll out of the production line according to a "pull" rather than "push" manufacturing strategy, and I believe that Omega is not going ever to disclose the number of timepieces produced per year, phasing out the watch unexpectedly in a couple of years or so.
The Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary: how it is made, and what makes it unique.
The 2020 Silver Snoopy is not a timepiece; it is indeed an experience. I think this was the mission when sketching the new one. It is undoubtedly a flagship product designed to foster the Moonwatch collection's renovation process and Omega's repositioning in premium luxury. What unquestionably sets this specific Speedmaster apart from its siblings is how it combines, in one piece, class-leading technical specifications with the first-ever kind of an animation. The recipe incorporates a dramatically re-engineered chronograph and a delicate, almost hidden, decorated, and animated story.
The case draws inspiration from a fourth-generation Speedmaster, something I guess will involve the upcoming new Moonwatch collection sometime soon and reaffirms the Omega team's dedication to raising the bar regarding even the less perceptible detail. The blue ceramic inlay with a white enameled tachymeter scale on top is an engineering marvel. The dial comes as an Ag925 disc as it is the embossed Silver Snoopy, placed into the running seconds counter at nine. From up close, under certain angles and lighting, you'll notice how the blue tone looks brighter than elsewhere. The applied baton indexes are blue PVD treated, while the hour and minute hands are made of aluminum.
The Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary debuts the first-ever animation on a Moonwatch, something most supporters describe as too flamboyant. At first glance, it might look out of place on a Speedmaster. The case back is neither solid nor see-through but reproduces planet earth as seen from the moon surface while floating inside a starry sky reproduced on a dark enameled base. This fantastic three-dimensional scenario, where the moon comes out of a micro-structured metallization process, is center stage for the earth rotating in sync with the elapsed running seconds hand, whereas the chronograph, once started, is moving an additional Chrono hand. Please wait for about ten seconds, and you'll see Snoopy popping up in its lunar module in an attempt to land on earth.
This design explains why the engineers opted for aluminum, given the mechanical movement powers an additional silica-made hand carrying the beagle in space. Such a beautiful animation adds that wow factor and turns the Silver Snoopy from watch to watchmaking experience.
Again, technical details are spot-on; the case back is secured via the Naiad lock, a system patented by Omega to ensure all the inscriptions are always in place as per factory specifications, once a watchmaker opens the case-back for ordinary maintenance or inspection. The Naiad lock adopts a Liquidmetal ring between the case and case back initially rotated by 47°. Despite the animation's addition, the case's thickness is not any bigger than a standard Moonwatch, and it's far more comfortable as it is entirely flat.
Esthetically, the Silver Snoopy is a two-tone watch; under certain lighting conditions, I do not particularly appreciate how the silver dial stands out, providing a kind of metallic feel. Also, I believe Omega's designers drew inspiration from a Speedmaster Gemini 4, or a recent CK2998. The 42 mil case, fastened to a blue nylon strap, wears smaller than expected, even more so given the tang buckle as narrow as the one adopted on a First in Space. The watch houses the new caliber 3861, the successor to old 1861, fully redesigned and turned into a Master Chronometer.
Although not adopting a column wheel, something I would include given this price point, the latter outperforms the caliber Omega 1861, which is as historical as it is outdated. Running precision improvement is paired to an enhanced touch and feel; the Chrono buttons are stable and smooth enough, with the chronograph central hand showcasing no jump when pushing the start button.
Price and final thoughts
Priced at 9,700 Euros, the Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary is not cheap by any means, even though strategically priced under the 10,000 Euros threshold. In my opinion, the brand's goal was not to widen the offer but change the audience instead. At such a price, the brand is cutting down on all the current Speedmaster wanna-be owners whose threshold price is in the 5,000 average asking price territory.
The new Silver Snoopy plays as the quintessential "talking piece" of the Moonwatch collection and is not a piece for a one-piece collection; it is geared towards a higher-spending audience looking for the ultimate funny, unconventional, snobbish, and irreverent luxury sports watch. Plus, a great story.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®