By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
“Space, the final frontier…”
Each time I hear Captain James Tiberius Kirk (played by actor William Shatner) say those words, I get goosbumps and my mind starts wondering about the universe and the potentially exciting world of space travelling. Chances are, the notion of the universe, has some effect on you too.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional a.k.a. the “Moonwatch” since its launch (pun intended!) back in 1965 remains largely the same but has progressively grown its followers, generation after generation. These legions of supporters have effectively equated the romance of space with this watch thanks to the constant work made by Omega to maintain the association.
Those who follow modern space exploration history will surely know about the events surrounding the American Apollo 13 mission to the moon back in 11 April 1970. I was but a toddler at that time but my parents can still recall the news on radio and television in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was told that it was one of the first few global televised events ever. This was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. However, due to a catastrophic failure in a major component in the spacecraft, it had to make a dramatic turnaround that became legendary. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, problems with the carbon dioxide removal system, and manual course corrections the crew returned safely to Earth on 17 April 1970.
To commemorate the 45th anniversary of that famous mission, Omega announced a new limited edition that also gives tribute to the Silver Snoopy Award that NASA gave to Omega for the Apollo program. For all its infinite wisdom, NASA chose Snoopy, the dog from Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts, as the safety mascot for the Apollo program. In 1970, Omega was given the award for their role towards the safety and success of the Apollo program.
This new limited edition piece of which only 1970 examples will be produced comes with a beautiful white dial and a winding Omega Caliber 1861 which was the same movement used in Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch back in 1970. However, a few refinements have been added compared to the original such as the use of sapphire crystal and ceramics. The dimensions of the watch are 42 mm wide and 14.8 mm thick and made out of stainless steel. The watch casing is paired with black nylon strap with white stitching and a deployant clasp. Based on news reports, the limited edition piece also comes with a decorative Silver Snoopy pins and a newspaper from that period (I believe this would be a reprint).
This limited edition piece is like a film negative of the original Moonwatch. The dial has a white background with black inscriptions and hands. The borders of the indexes are luminous with their centers painted with black varnish. The main hands have luminous paint as well. Unlike the original, although similar in design, the black bezel on this limited edition piece is polished black ceramic (ZrO2) with a Super-LumiNova tachymeter scale. In the dark, the watch looks complete.
The small second sub-dial at 9 o’clock shows the cartoon character Snoopy (also with luminous paint) saying “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION” in a callout bubble just above the center of the dial. This famous saying was uttered by Flight Director Gene Kranz (another legend of NASA), the man charged with bringing astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Hasie back safely to planet Earth.
Another addition that is not found in the original Moonwatch is a 14 seconds scale starting from 0 (at the edge of the dial) with the words “WHAT COULD YOU DO IN 14 SECONDS?”. This sentence is in reference to a 14-second course correction that the Apollo 13 crew successfully timed to correct their return trajectory using Jack Swigert’s Omega Speedmaster, a fact that sealed the Moonwatch iconic status.
The dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal with the necessary anti-reflective coating.
The case-back is just beautiful. Apart from the main information about the watch, you will find an etching of Snoopy floating in space in a spacesuit on a 925 silver medallion and protected under a domed sapphire crystal. The background is dark blue enamel with silver sparkles to represent the cosmos and stars. This in itself makes it very desirable as a piece of art.
I won’t be surprised if all 1,970 pieces be taken up fast by collectors, if the price is right. News reports indicates it is priced at 6,100 CHF (approximately USD6,100). For a watch with caliber 1681, stainless steel with nylon strap, it is steep. Throw in the artwork, sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel as well as a decorative Silver Snoopy pins and a newspaper from that period, the price does appear fair.
Would I get one? You bet!
For more info, please visit omegawatches.com
Meor Amri Meor Ayob – Contributing Editor
Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!!) on his own free time. His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch & Western Watch Read his articles here.