Omega and space are intrinsically linked. The Speedmaster Professional is not only the lone watch to grace the lunar surface, but it has also faithfully served astronauts on countless other space exploration missions. On most of these missions, the Speedmaster’s role was simply as a reliable timekeeper. However, on Apollo 13, it became an indispensable and life-saving tool for the NASA Astronauts who wore it. This Omega Speedmaster Professional “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary 310.32.42.50.02.001 commemorates that harrowing mission and the award given to Omega for their contribution to it.
Though this watch specifically celebrates the 50th anniversary of Omega receiving the Silver Snoopy Award from NASA, the full story of this timepiece and the award goes back a bit further. In 1968 NASA wanted to designate an award for mission support staff ‘In Appreciation’ For professionalism, dedication, and outstanding support that greatly enhanced space flight safety and mission success.” This award which was to be given out by the astronauts themselves, was named after the Lunar Excursion Module used during Apollo 10. The module was named “Snoopy” as a nod to the module’s main objective: to snoop around and find suitable landing locations for Apollo 11 and the famous comic character. The naming of the award cemented the famous beagle’s relationship with NASA and space; in fact, the logo of the award was custom drawn by Charles Schultz himself.
Fast forward to April of 1970, and we get to the Apollo 13 mission. Manned by Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, the flight was intended to be a crewed landing on the Moon, but fate had other plans. Two days into the mission, an electrical short caused an oxygen tank to explode, which then caused further damage to the spacecraft. Jack Swigert then famously radioed to Mission Control, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” After some quick thinking, it was decided that the crew would turn off all unnecessary equipment and reserve what resources they had left to get them back to Earth. This included most of the standard navigation equipment, which ultimately left them relying on their trusty Omega Speedmaster Professionals. They would use the watch to precisely time 14-second bursts of the Lunar Excursion Modules’s rocket engine to safely guide them back to Earth. The entire crew returned safely, just 1 mile away from their originally intended landing site, a testament to the brilliance of the crew in mission control, themselves, and in small part to the reliability and accuracy of their Omega Speedmaster’s. To thank Omega for the crucial role the watch played in saving the astronauts, NASA awarded the brand the Silver Snoopy Award on October 5th, 1970.
Since then, Omega has commemorated the award with three watches, A limited edition in 2003, another limited edition in 2015, and finally released in 2021 this regular production—though highly sought after and difficult to get—50th-anniversary edition.
The measurements and case shape are classic Speedmaster, but some key differences make this watch special. Right away, you’ll notice the blue and silver color scheme, which is a gorgeous departure from the black and white motif on the standard models. The hands, indices, subdials, and virtually scratch-proof ceramic bezel are all a matching shade of navy blue. The solid silver dial—which is engraved with Ag925 to denote this fact—provides an excellent backdrop for the plethora of deep blue details. The fact that the dial is actually made of silver rather than just silver-colored is a nice touch for a watch meant to commemorate a silver award. Small details like this that call back to the original award can be found all over this timepiece.
The most obvious of these is the Snoopy illustration in the running seconds subdial. This Snoopy drawing exactly matches the one used for the award and, as stated, was custom drawn for NASA. Flip the watch over, and you’ll find a stunning lunar landscape with Earth in the background. The Moon is almost photo-realistic, while the stars and Earth are a bit more cartoonish. Missing, however, is Snoopy himself. That’s because he only shows up while the chronograph is actively running. Starting the chronograph sends Snoopy into flight on a Command Service Module just like the Apollo 13 astronauts. It also starts the rotation of the Earth. Omega calls this animation the “magic hand.” It’s an insanely fun and charming detail to add to a watch. Additionally, at the top of the image is “Eyes On The Stars,” which has been on both previous Silver Snoopy Speedmasters.
Affixed to the stainless steel case is an extremely high-quality dark blue nylon strap. Omega has really been stepping their strap game up lately, and this one well-built piece of kit. The strap has a handsome contrasting stitch, a calfskin underside, and a rubber gusset surrounding the adjustment holes for added durability. You’ll also notice embossed on the underside is the flight path of Apollo 13, showing their orbit around the Moon and trajectory back to Earth. Again another one of these little details that serve as a subtle secret only the wearer will know about.
Inside the Silver Snoopy is nothing short of the most advanced movement ever found in a Speedmaster Professional. The METAS Certified Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 3861. This is the same movement found in the newest iteration of the Moonwatch, and it’s packed full of advanced technological improvements. The Caliber 3861 is METAS certified, has a co-axial escapement, and a silicon balance spring. This METAS certification means that this movement has been COSC certified and then cased up and put through a myriad of trails to ensure proper shock resistance, water resistance, magnetic resistance, and accuracy. Most notably, the Caliber 3861 is resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss, which is more than any average person is likely to encounter. All of this is done to ensure that the watch maintains a maximum deviation rate of just 0/+5 seconds per day, even in the most strenuous conditions, like, say, in outer space.
Versus the Competition
On paper, this regular production Speedmaster, which has an MSRP of $9,600, should have many competitors. In reality, it’s an extremely hard-to-get and highly desirable special edition watch that sells for around $34,900 on the secondary market—if you can find it. The hype around the watch can make it a bit harder to compare because the main trait of the watch that puts it in its given price bracket is simply desire. However, there is another famous chronograph that’s in a similar position, the Rolex Daytona. This black dial reference 116500 is also a regular production watch that has an MSRP well below its market asking price of $34,900. This Daytona is also a well-known chronograph with a modern movement, ceramic bezel, and a timeless design. You could argue that the Daytona has a leg up in terms of durability and convenience with its 100m of water resistance and 72 hours of power reserve, both besting the Silver Snoopy’s 50m water resistance and 50 hours of power reserve. However, the Speedmaster undoubtedly has more character and charm. The Speedmaster also has that added specialness of having a unique aesthetic and being tied to an important historical event.
Another option to consider if you’re interested in special edition Speedmaster’s is this Omega Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project. This is a limited edition of 1,970 pieces that was released in 2008. It’s based on the “Alaska II” prototype watch made by Omega specifically to deal with the rigors of space travel, including the extreme temperatures on the dark side of the Moon. Omega modified the dial and hands, as well as included an outer aluminum thermal shield to allow the watch to withstand temperatures that range from -148C to +260C. Because the original was a prototype, no examples were made for commercial purchase until this 2008 edition. This is a rare but accessible piece of Omega history with a market value of approximately $29,500. This makes for an extremely compelling alternative to the Silver Snoopy Speedmaster. I think ultimately, what will drive you to choose one or the other will be the aesthetics. For more details on the full history of the Alaska Project Speedmasters, we have a full write-up here.
I see this watch as well suited for a few different collector types. The first and most obvious is the Speedy fan. This Silver Snoopy’s gorgeous colorway and unique caseback make it a must-have special edition among the sea of special edition Speedy’s out there. There’s also the space-themed collector, who isn’t necessarily a watch guy but loves NASA and Apollo-related accouterment. This watch has so many great details and faithfully tributes a famous mission in space exploration history. Finally, I see this watch as a flex piece. It’s an excellent watch for someone looking to rock a timepiece made of “unobtanium” at their next watch meet-up.
While a lot of people like to criticize special edition Speedmasters, this one is hard to fault. It’s a watch that appeals to people on an emotional, historical, aesthetic, and technical level all at once. This is a phenomenal timepiece, full stop.