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May 20, 2024

Omega: Speedmaster Snoopy Award “First & Second Series”

Omega Speedmaster Snoopy Award –Limited Editions

“Houston, we have a problem.” This is the famous message that American astronauts on board of Apollo 13, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise sent to the control center after they heard a “strong bang,” 56 hours after the launch of the mission. Recalled in many books, and re-enacted in many tv series and movies –including Ron Howard’s 1995 film with Tom Hanks in Lovell’s role– the Apollo 13 incident also inspired one of the most sought-after models of the Omega Speedmaster Limited Edition series: the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award.

Snoopy

In fact, on April 17, 1970 (6 days after launch) the entire world watched Apollo 13’s command module make sea landing in the Pacific Ocean, after an unexpected emergency hit the spacecraft at a distance of over 200,000 miles from Earth. Apollo 13 was intended to land on the Moon surface, but this goal was derailed when one of the service module’s two oxygen tanks exploded during flight. The mission was abandoned and the astronauts had to perform a series of course corrections to program the right trajectory in order to return safely to the earth atmosphere.

Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award was launched by the Swiss maison in 2015 to celebrate the unforgettable mission which took place 45 years earlier, team work, the alacrity, and the courage of those who were able to bring back home safe and sound the three American astronauts.

Snoopy

Snoopy, the famous beagle from the Peanuts who was chosen as a mascot by the NASA back in 1968, adorns the timepiece’s dial and caseback – a tribute to the Silver Snoopy Award that Omega received in 1970 as an acknowledgement for the support brought to the Apollo program. The Snoopy Award, a sort of diploma featuring a Snoopy wearing the astronaut suit and the “Eyes On The Stars” slogan, is awarded to companies who offered and exceptional contribution to the success of space flights; in Omega’s case, for its role in the Apollo 13 mission: when most of the spacecraft’s instruments were shut down to save energy, some manoeuvres had to be timed with the Speedmaster chronograph, most particularly the rocket motor’s combustion time that would  have determined the module’s reentry trajectory.

Snoopy

Two writings decorate the dial of the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award: 14 little frames positioned between 0 and 14 seconds evoke a comic strip, and the words “What could you do in 14 seconds?” recall the 14-second course correction that the astronauts were able to time with their Speedmaster, a crucial manoeuvre to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.

The sentence “Failure is not an option” at the center of the dial was pronounced  instead by actor Ed Harris who played Apollo 13’s flight director in the historic 1995 movie. A small image of a sleeping Snoopy in Super-LumiNova is featured on the seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. A silver medallion inspired by the Silver Snoopy Award pin is visible through a sapphire glasson the caseback.

Snoopy

The Snoopy made of silver is mounted on a plate of the same material, coloured with dark blue enamel, and silver powder is sprinkled over the enamel by hand, giving the impression that Snoopy is floating in space. On the caseback, the words “Silver Snoopy Award,” “Eyes On The Stars,” “45th Anniversary,” “0000/1970” and “Apollo XIII” are engraved. The model was produced in a limited edition of 1970 pieces, all including the calibre Omega 1861 – the same hand-wound movement encompassed in the legendary Moonwatch.

But the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award isn’t the only limited edition serie created by Omega to celebrate that milestone in the space race history. Its predecessor, Omega Speedmaster Snoopy Award, was introduced in 2003. Produced in 5,441 pieces (number based on the length of the Apollo 13 mission: 142 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds), this other model is characterized by a black dial featuring the Snoopy astronaut –the Snoopy Award logo– at 9 o’clock, and the writing “Eyes on the Stars.” On the caseback, the same logo is visible through the sapphire glass together with the engravings “Ω OMEGA – The Moon Watch – Snoopy Award – Limited – Edition – xxxx/5441.”

Snoopy

Both limited editions are now very much sought-after by collectors and they have an atypical positioning, as Marcello De Marco –watch specialist for the auction house Phillips based in Geneva – explains:

Snoopy

“The Snoopys represent a quite unusual phenomenon among collectors,” he says. “Their positioning isn’t that of a cornerstone, nor archetypical –as for instance the first Speedmaster 2915 was– and it’s not that of an unusual and extremely rare variation of such model either (I’m thinking of the Speedmasters with blue dials, or the “Ultramans”). They belong instead to those limited editions –usually produced in a not-so-limited number– designed by Omega to celebrate, for example, a model’s anniversary, a NASA mission, or, in the Snoopy watch’s case, the Snoopy Award handed out by NASA to the company.

Snoopy

The huge appeal these models have amidst Omega collectors incontrovertibly places the Snoopy Editions among the most sought-after wide-ranging limited editions. According to De Marco, “such appeal is the result of the combination between the Snoopy Award’s historical importance, the model’s lightness, the unusual presence of Snoopy on the dial, and their established popularity which makes them easy to recognize.”

During an auction in Hong Kong on November 27 this year, Phillips sold one piece from the 2003 edition (delivered in 2004) for USD 17,600. In order to understand its value evolution, it’s important to consider that the recommended price for the 2015 edition was €6,100. A value that has kept increasing steadily through time, even if –according to Phillips– the 2015 edition is having a slightly greater success since “the number of pieces produced is slightly inferior,” the auction house specialist explains, “and the pigments used for the Snoopy figure are more sensitive to UV rays, thus making the character luminescent when exposed to those rays – just like the Ultraman’s orange hand, for example.”

Snoopy

The interest for those limited editions goes across generations and continents. “I know 60-year-old collectors that are as passionate about these watches as the new market actors (collectors under 30 years old). Maybe geographically speaking we can observe a slightly greater interest for the Snoopys on the European continent (thanks to the already-established collectors tradition) and in the United States (where the interest towards all NASA-related products is always growing), but in Asia there is no lack of clients either,” concludes De Marco.

By Valeria Garavaglia