The Group Stage is in the books. It’s time for the head-to-head contests to begin. Over the next two weeks, we will run two quarter-final match-ups each weekend. One on Saturday; one on Sunday. Our intrepid warriors made it through blood baths of their own making, but now they need your help to fight another day. Only one man can progress from each quarter-final to the next stage. The choice of who receives that honor rests with you. Let battle commence…

No manual recounts needed here as the victorious Speedys for Group A and B have an unassailable lead. In the right-hand corner, representing Group A is the 45th anniversary of the Silver Snoopy Award. The original Silver Snoopy lapel pin was awarded to Omega in 1970 following the “successful failure” of the Apollo XIII mission. Despite the incredibly strong contenders in the group, the Silver Snoopy prevailed with 36% of the voting share.

On our left is the 50th anniversary of the First Omega in Space — already I’m spotting a theme here. The “FOiS”, as it’s sometimes referred to, took an even more significant margin with 46% of you voting its favor. When Wally Schirra strapped on his store-bought Omega CK2998 to orbit the earth, he had no idea of the legacy that he would leave in his wake. While NASA still had to conduct tests to qualify the Omega Speedmaster for manned space missions, already the seed had been planted by Schirra in 1962.

Group A Winner — Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 45th Anniversary

I am up against one of the emerging favorites in the Speedmaster range, the First Omega in Space. Soon to be out of production, according to Omega, but currently in high demand. I would guess that this is because it is a very affordable alternative to the Calibre 321 “Ed White”. Anyway, I was a little bit surprised that the Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 45th won my group. Well, some people sent me some proper hate-mail (seriously guys, it’s a game) that my group was too severe. Sure, I had dibs on some heavy hitters, but Omega made so many Speedmasters — limited and non-limited — that there are plenty of choices.

I expected the Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 50th anniversary in 18k Moonshine gold to win. I discussed it with my fellow editors, but most of them voted in favor of the 2015 Snoopy. The Moonshine is superior, but not everyone is into gold sports watches like me, it seems. Anyway, if you want to read my initial reasons why I included the Silver Snoopy Award 45th in my group, click here.

In a recent article, I tried to explain why this Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award from 2015 is so freakin’ popular. It has to do with the craftsmanship of the silver lapel pin on the case back and a short run of 1,970 pieces only. But also, it was the first Omega that seemed to appeal to a broad audience outside of the core watch enthusiasts including; space collectors, Snoopy collectors, and even art collectors. Following on from the recent unveiling of the new Snoopy 50th anniversary edition, people are still chasing this white dial Snoopy from 2015.

2015 Speedmaster Snoopy

Why is this Snoopy so beloved?

The Speedmaster Silver Snoopy 2015 is indeed one of my favorite watches in my collection. Most of the time, I wear it on the soft black nylon fabric strap that came with the Snoopy. But I also tried it on a stainless-steel Omega bracelet, which also looks neat but lacking the contrast between strap and dial. There’s also something about a white dial Speedmaster, whether that’s the Albino from 1997, the Alaska Project from 2008, or Alaska I. A Speedmaster with a white dial seems so departed from the typical matte black. It gives the most iconic chronograph in the world a completely different appeal. Would the Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 45th anniversary act as my one Speedmaster collection? Probably not, but that applies to most limited editions that veer just enough from the original Moonwatch but still look fresh.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award 311.

Turn out the lights

Another peculiarity about the Speedmaster Professional Silver Snoopy Award from 2015 is the lume. In the picture above, we show you how it looks in low-light conditions. Even though Omega already creatively used lume on some of the Dark Side of the Moon variations, it was the first time to have the lume on the bezel of a Speedmaster Professional case. Even Snoopy dog himself glows in the dark. The designer of the 2015 Snoopy watch is super creative, even the canvas of the regular Speedmaster would seem somewhat limited — no pun intended. The spirit of creativity from the Silver Snoopy Award from 2015 helped Omega and us in the design process of the Speedy Tuesday II “Ultraman” from 2018.

In hindsight, I can now appreciate why the majority chose the 2015 Silver Snoopy Award. I still prefer the Moonshine when it comes to wearing, or owning, these watches. Nevertheless, this Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award from 2015 was in many ways a “first” for becoming so creative with the Speedmaster in later editions and additions. It paved the way for boundless possibilities in the Speedmaster.

Ben, surely you cannot match this level of creativity with your vanilla winner?

Omega Speedmaster First Omega in Space

Group B Winner — Omega Speedmaster First Omega in Space

Well, it was inventible that an editor was going to be up against the giant of Fratello. It looks like I drew the short straw to be the sacrificial lamb. Just as with David vs. Goliath, I am going to have a find a big moon-rock to knock that Snoopy RJ just schooled us on right between the eyes. But I hope you love an underdog story as much as I do. And for a long time, the First Omega in Space was the Pomeranian compared to the noble Beagle.

…I had a one in four shot…

In a way, I am glad this watch has stepped up to the plate. In RJ’s group, he had a 100% chance of landing one from his collection as the winner. For me, I had a one in four shot. Even so, my First Omega in Space made the cut. Surprisingly as the initial response was reasonably tepid in comparison to the searing hotness of the Snoopy on launch.

The comeback kid

At the time, the Moonwatch was still the Speedy to have, and the smaller case and alpha hands seemed like a back step. The First Omega in Space may have drawn inspiration from the Schirra space-worn Speedy. But it did not necessarily recreate a specific reference among the CK2998 iterations. Instead, the “FOiS” was more of a greatest hits compilation. The thing about any greatest hits album is that you know you’re going to land on a banger with each track. And that was what did it for me when I bought this Speedy three years after the launch.

Alpha hands indicate the time and batons are for the chronograph.

Take, for instance, the running seconds hand. All CK2998 iterations had either baton or polished alpha hands for each sub-dial. But the important thing was that they all matched. The First Omega in Space thought differently and had an alpha hand to track the subsidiary seconds against the baton chrono counters. An odd choice, perhaps? Considering the central chrono seconds was also a white baton with alpha hands taking care of the hours and minutes, it begins to make sense. The alphas read the current time, and the batons indicate elapsed time. It’s a way to differentiate the functions and not to demonstrate favoritism to any particular CK2998 sub-reference.

Getting back on track

I also appreciate how the First Omega in Space kept things modern. Applying the logo was as per the original, but the typeface was still fresh. The crystal was scratch-resistant sapphire, and the markers were bright, white and ready to fight — no faux-luming here. Unlike the Moonwatch, the First Omega in Space made strides for smartening up a bit. The leftover of transitioning from the Cal. 321 movement to the 861, and subsequently 1861, was the number of subdivisions between the 60 markers. The frequency differed between the two calibers, yet the Moonwatch kept the same four strokes between longer markers as before. In the “FOiS”, you have the appropriate number of markers to match the frequency of the caliber 1861.

Paying homage to the CK2998, which is the reference the Speedmaster started taking shape.

Other Speedy models may have followed suit, but the “FOiS” was one of the early adopters to address this frequency disparity in the indications. Maybe it would have been a nice throwback to stick the dot over ninety on the bezel, as opposed to alongside, similar to the very early references. Still, overall the First Omega in Space pays respect to the CK2998, which for me is the earliest the Speedmaster began to take shape into what we now know and love.

Now, a few words on RJ’s group winner. I know I’m in for a tough fight here, but even so, I want to commend the readers on selecting the Silver Snoopy. My vote went to my biggest FOMO regret, the “Ultraman”. The thought of going up against the Speedy Tuesday II watch would have left me in perpetual turmoil. Considering the amount of conflict of interest would be enough to get the FTC involved. But you, dear readers, saved me that war inside my head, leaving me free to set my sites on the Snoopy.

Sir, why is there a dog on the dial?

Certainly, the case-back with the replica Silver Snoopy on a beautiful enamel star cluster was a huge selling point for the watch back in 2015. But why did it have to be paired with such baffling comic strip dial? I’m all for Omega flexing its creative chops, but movie quotes, a luminous sleeping dog, and rhetorical questions? At least the 50th anniversary Silver Snoopy had the decency to confine the cartoon dog to the case-back and the actual lapel pin design on the subsidiary seconds.

The quote from Apollo 13 (1995) was never even uttered by Gene Kranz during the actual mission. Admittedly, it was a stirring line delivered excellently by Ed Harris in the equally terrific film. But this is a part of human history that we are reducing to a Hollywood script? The result is something an aftermarket watch customizer would do to a Speedmaster, rather than Omega itself. But what do I know? Prices of this Snoopy have gone stratospheric! The First Omega in Space perhaps plays it safe in comparison but maintains its classy legacy.


Let sleeping dogs lie

RJ: It is interesting that certain things are still unclear or better said, unknown, to people. I don’t know whether it is a lack of interest, or just echoing what pessimist keyboard ninjas left as comments on forums and social media. To start with the quote from Gene Kranz: This was indeed never said during the Apollo 13 mission. However, it was during an interview that he said:

“…when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution.” — Gene Kranz

RJ: However, Kranz liked the specific quote from the Apollo 13 movie so much, that he, later on, used it as the title for his memoirs.

Ben: Life imitating art imitating life…

RJ: The dial of this watch is indeed a bit comical, but since I like comics, I am not very bothered by it and instead enjoy it. Also, if you put the watch on your wrist (which I assume you never did) you will notice that the dog, the “Failure is not an option” text, and rhetorical question aren’t that visible from a distance (> 30cm).

Ben: I have had this Snoopy on my wrist several times. And the best you can say is that it looks better from a distance?

RJ: Don’t be a sore loser, haha. I love these quirky little details, I don’t need them in “my face” all day. So no, not better from a distance, but more like little details that I can enjoy at times. Anyway, if all these things are bothering you so much, be happy you didn’t buy it.

The First Omega in Space misses the mark

RJ: Now, I don’t like to trash someone else’s watch, but your watch was never on my radar. I love the Speedmaster, as you can tell. The variety of editions is spellbinding, but this “FOiS” veers too far from the original CK2998. I would rather see Omega doing a straight-lug, Hesalite, and authentic case-back iteration of the CK2998. A bit like what our colleague Daniel did to his personal “FOiS”.

Ben: Yes, a timepiece from a stalwart powerhouse in watchmaking and manufacturing, design and innovation for over 172 years. Yet, Daniel thought it needed his “special touch”.

RJ: Dude. Don’t start with Daniel and his “special touch”. I do think that is needed to either show the movement or a simple engraving than the positive relief Seahorse logo. The most appealing part of this watch is the price. But with too many concessions at the expense of a proper revival. Apples with apples, of course, but the new Speedmaster Calibre 321 is the watch the “FOiS” should have been — yes, I know it is a 105.003 inspired model — but Omega wasn’t ready in 2012 when it came out.

Ben: I’m frankly still not ready at the price of the new “Ed White”. Even for as lovely as that watch is.

RJ: You’re not alone, the demand is huge since the introduction of the Calibre 321 but as a matter of fact, the FOiS is being phased out by Omega as we speak. Anyway, I am not saying you have a failure on your wrist. But compared to my Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award, it was just a well-meaning attempt to create something cool. 

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