How Snoopy Ended Up on an Replica Omega Speedmaster Dial

It is no secret that besides blogging about watches for Buywatchestop.co.uk, I also love to collect replica watches — especially iconic watches like the replica Rolex GMT-Master, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Rolex Datejust and, of course, the Omega Speedmaster Professional. I own several of the last model. Ever since I bought my first Speedmaster (more than 15 years ago) I have been hooked on this watch. Not only do I love the design of this chronograph (one of the most clean chronograph dials around); I also like its connection to the Apollo space program.

As you know, Omega has produced quite a few limited editions based on the original Speedmaster Professional. Some like these limited editions, others don’t. However, the fact is that some of these limited editions do appreciate in market value quite well after a few years. One of these models is the Omega Speedmaster Professional “Snoopy Award.” My professional career started around the time this model was introduced (2003), so it was only a lack of funds that prevented me from buying Speedmaster Snoopy back then. Ever since, I have longed for one, but also noticed that over the years they became increasingly difficult to find, at least for a reasonable price. Recently, I decided to go for it despite the high price (compared to that of a standard Omega Speedmaster Professional). I justified the purchase by telling myself that the longer I’d wait, the more expensive it would get, anyway, right? You can read about the efforts I made to obtain the Speedmaster Snoopy. After showing my precious new Speedmaster Professional with a Snoopy (turned into an astronaut) to some people, a number of them asked why I wanted a cartoon character on the dial of my replica watch. I was already aware that many people had this perception of the Speedmaster with the Snoopy dial, also given the fact that it was initially sold to a lot of women (women seem to love Snoopy a lot).

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If you are a Speedmaster aficionado as well, and you know a thing or two about the Apollo missions, you probably are already familiar with the use of Snoopy by NASA. In 1968, NASA chose the famous beagle as an icon to act as a sort of “watchdog” over its missions. In the same year, NASA decided to use a sterling silver Snoopy pin as a sign of appreciation to NASA employees and contractors together with a commendation letter and a signed framed Snoopy certificate. Each of the sterling silver Snoopy label pins has been flown during a NASA mission. Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who created the “Peanuts” comic strip (featuring Snoopy and Charlie Brown) was a supporter of the NASA Apollo missions and agreed to let them use “Snoopy the astronaut” at no cost and even drew the Snoopy figure for the sterling silver label pin.

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In May 1969, the Apollo 10 mission flew to the moon to do the final checks in order for the following mission, Apollo 11, to land on the Moon. The Apollo 10 mission required the LM (lunar module) to check the moon’s surface from nearby and “snoop around” to find a landing site for Apollo 11. Because of this, the Apollo 10 crew (Gene Cernan, John Young and Thomas Stafford) named the LM “Snoopy.” The Apollo CM (command module) was nicknamed “Charlie Brown.” Fast-forward to 1970. In the interim, humans had set foot on the moon and, about one year later, the Apollo 13 mission was meant to bring another team of NASA astronauts to the Moon (Lovell, Swigert and Haise). The mission’s objective was to explorer a certain area on the moon called the Fra Mauro formation. It didn’t get that far, as there was an explosion on board the service module at approximately 200,000 miles distance from Earth.

NASA’s ground control came up with a solution in the end, which required the astronauts to get creative with some materials on board their module. After fixes were made and all systems worked (more or less) again, the crew started their journey to Earth. This is the really quick version of the story of course; the entire adventure is depicted in the 1995 movie, Apollo 13, starringTom Hanks (an avid Speedmaster wearer himself, probably becoming one after his role in this movie). Now comes the part where the Speedmaster played an important role. The Apollo 13 crew needed the replica Omega Speedmaster watch, first to time ignition of the rockets to shorten the estimated length of the return to Earth, and secondly, to time the ignition of the rockets to decrease speed and raise the flight path angle for re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This second operation was crucial, since any mistake in the timing could have led to an incorrect entry angle and, as a result, potential disaster for the crew. As explained before, NASA used the Snoopy award for special contributions and outstanding efforts from both NASA personnel and contractors. On October 5th, 1970, NASA gave the Omega Speedmaster a Snoopy award to acknowledge the crucial role the watch played during the Apollo 13 mission.

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In 2003, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Professional “Snoopy Award” to commemorate this 1970 milestone. Although the watch was a limited (and numbered) edition, Omega produced a whopping 5,441 pieces of the Speedmaster Snoopy. The number has to do with the 142 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds that the mission lasted. A bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but a nice idea. Omega’s reason for introducing this replica watch 33 years after the Apollo 13 mission, and being awarded with the Snoopy, is unknown to me. Based on the brand’s other limited editions, I would have expected such a release on a 30th or perhaps 35th anniversary rather than a 33rd. Despite the relative high number of Snoopy Speedmasters out there, you’ll have to search to find one at a decent price. Also, beware of Snoopy Speedmasters that had the dial and caseback fitted later on (Omega delivered them to service centers as spare parts). Always make sure you buy a Speedmaster Snoopy with the original anthracite (Snoopy) box, certificate of authenticity (with matching number on the caseback). There should also be a copy of the original Snoopy appreciation certificate with the watch.

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So now you know. When there is a Snoopy on an Omega Speedmaster dial, it actually means something. In the end, of course, one need not be versed in all this history to purchase and appreciate this watch; one may just be a fan of Snoopy. A review of the Omega Speedmaster Professional ‘Snoopy Award’ can be found here. More information about Omega Speedmasters in general can be found on the Speedy Tuesday page on Replica Watches.

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Introducing the Revamped Vacheron Constantin Replica Overseas Collection

Vacheron Constantin introduced a completely revised Overseas collection at SIHH this year, including five new models and three new calibers. The new calibers, including a chronograph and a special ladies’ caliber, carry the Geneva Hallmark, a key step in the brand’s goal to convert 100 percent of its production to the Geneva Seal standard by the end of the year. Vacheron also introduced an anti-magnetic component to all Overseas calibers, one that uniquely allows for open casebacks.

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The new automatic Caliber 5200, five years in development, is a column-wheel chronograph with vertical coupling clutch, replacing a Frédéric Piguet movement previously used in the Overseas chronograph model. Twin barrels with thicker mainsprings ensure a 50-hour power reserve. The second new caliber is the 5100, with hours, minutes, seconds and date, housed in a 41-mm case. It is an automatic movement, with two mainsprings, delivering a 60-hour power reserve. The new 5300 is a smaller caliber, made for a 37-mm ladies’ model set with 84 diamonds on the bezel, totaling one carat. Functions include hours, minutes, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. Both the 5100 and 5300 replace Jaeger-LeCoultre movements previously used in Overseas models.

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Overseas ladies’ with Caliber 5300, with a diamond bezel

The final two new models in the replica Vacheron Constantin Overseas collection contain the existing ultra-thin caliber 1120, also used in the brand’s Patrimony collection. The automatic Caliber 1120 QP is housed in a new Overseas perpetual calendar with moon phase and leap year indicator; it measures only 4.05 mm thick; the case is only 8.1 mm thick. The time-only Caliber 1120 is a mere 2.45 mm thick, cased in an ultra-slim dress watch with no seconds or date display.

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Overseas ultra-thin time-only purist model, with Caliber 1120

All calibers in the five new Overseas models have been fitted with soft-iron inner casings for anti-magnetic protection. Unlike other brands’ models fitted with this technology, the Overseas replica watches have open casebacks. It is typically impossible to view the movement through a sapphire crystal caseback in “anti-magnetized” replica watches because the inner soft-iron shell covers the back of the movement. The shell in the new Overseas collection, however, is positioned just inside the casing ring, which is steeply angled towards the back to protect the movement without covering it altogether, allowing for an opening. Vacheron Constantin replica says this positioning protects the watch to a level of 200-400 gauss, compared to the industry standard of 60 gauss. (The highest standard among fake watches with soft-iron inner casings and closed casebacks is the replica Rolex Milgauss, with 1,000 gauss anti-magnetic protection. Other brands, such as Omega replica, equip some movements with escapement components made of anti-magnetic materials, eliminating the need for a soft-iron shell altogether while providing up to 5,000 gauss protection.)

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The 22-karat gold rotors are engraved with a wind rose compass, the symbol of the Overseas collection.

The movements in the new Overseas collection are all automatic, with large, 22k gold rotors engraved with a wind rose compass motif, a symbol of world travel that reflects the spirit of the Overseas collection. Water resistance varies between models from 50 meters to 150 meters. Each is equipped with an “easy-fit” interchangeable strap system that works by twisting the bracelet at the lugs by 180 degrees. Options include a metal bracelet, leather with nubuck lining, or a rubber strap. Quick bracelet-change systems were a popular feature among the brands’ introductions at SIHH this year.

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Overseas ultra-thin QP 4300V/120G-B102 bracelet cuir leather

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The Rolex Replica Daytona is the Hottest Watch That Money Can’t Buy

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A new Rolex Daytona is scheduled for release this year. But good luck getting one.

Imagine if Apple released a new iPhone, but no one could buy one, no matter how early you lined up. Imagine if Tesla answered the 400,000-plus pre-orders for the new Model 3 by making a few hundred. Imagine if Gordon Ramsay opened a power-lunch restaurant with only two tables.

Now you know what watch lovers are up against trying to get their hands on the new replica Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, scheduled to be released this year.

This sleekly contemporary update of one of the most collectible replica watches of the last 50 years drew audible oohs when it debuted at the Baselworld watch fair in March.

Reviewers declared this next-generation Daytona, with its techie Cerachrom bezel, a triumph, “the Rolex replica watch lovers have been waiting for,” in the words of Gear Patrol.

Despite the $124 price, dealers were bombarded with orders. “From the moment it was announced, demand was unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” said Ira Melnitsky, the chief executive of Tourneau, the watch retailer.

There was just one problem: Daytonas are scarce. Considered a timepiece for cognoscenti, not first-time buyers, the company typically parcels them out in limited numbers to dealers, who, in turn, set aside the few they can get for their most loyal customers.

Anyone who knows how many, or few, Daytonas will actually be made is not telling. A spokeswoman for fake Rolex, a company that is discreet to say the least, declined to discuss production or distribution plans for the new model or even the official release date. (Many aficionados expect it in stores this summer.)

Given the surging interest, the situation is starting to resemble a highly genteel version of the Cabbage Patch Kids frenzy of the 1980s, when tight supply for the must-have dolls around the holidays led to near riots in toy stores.

“We’ll never have enough to satisfy demand,” Mr. Melnitsky said.

Indeed, the new model may represent a prime arbitrage opportunity for anyone fortunate enough to get hold of one but crazy enough to sell it. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see these new Daytona models get flipped in the secondary market for a cool $500 premium over retail in the first six months,” said Paul Altieri, who runs Bob’s Replica Watches, a prominent online dealer of vintage replica Rolexes in Westminster, Calif. “I could sell 10 of them tomorrow.”

This is hardly the first time that the replica Rolex Daytona has created a fuss. The storied chronograph, named after the Daytona speedway in Florida, debuted in the 1960s as a tool for auto racing enthusiasts. With its three subdials for timing laps, it was basically the world’s most regal stopwatch.

By the 1970s, it was already achieving icon status, with a big boost from Paul Newman, who adopted it as his signature timepiece when he developed a passion for motor sports.

In the years since, the rolex Daytona has become the rare timepiece coveted by both tweedy collectors (Christie’s sold a so-called Paul Newman model from 1969 for $1.1 million in 2013) and paparazzi-dodging celebrities (Daniel Craig, Adam Levine and Eric Clapton, to name a few).

Anticipation of the new model has been building for years, especially after Rolex redesigned its Submariner and GMT-Master II models with Cerachrom, a scuff- and fade-resistant ceramic that infuses these venerable midcentury models with a 21st-century flair.

The wait was finally over in March. “My phone started vibrating nonstop at Baselworld moments after Rolex raised the green window shades,” said Stephen Pulvirent, a replica watch journalist and editor at Surface magazine. “Everybody was chirping, ‘It’s finally here.’”

That same day, some even lined up outside the Fifth Avenue flagship of Wempe Jewelers, a prominent Rolex dealer, before it opened, said Ruediger Albers, the president of American Wempe Corporation.

But for Rolex replica devotees, the heady rush quickly gave way to a gnawing realization that they were going to have to wait a long time to possess one. To some, it feels like an horological version of “Waiting for Godot.”

“I’ve heard several times of two-year waiting lists,” said Louis Westphalen, one such devotee who oversees vintage replica watch sales at Hodinkee, the influential New York-based watch site. “I have friends who have given up because they were beyond 20th place on waiting lists.”

To some dealers, even two years seems optimistic. Mr. Albers said the wait could reach five years.

“Managing expectations is a challenge,” said Mr. Albers, who is considering engraving the purchaser’s names on the back of each watch to discourage buyers only looking to resell for a profit. He is also considering setting aside a couple of Daytonas for loyal customers to borrow for a week, so they can at least “enjoy the newness.”

Even so, the Daytona is likely to remain the most unattainable status symbol in town. “It certainly takes less time to get great ‘Hamilton’ tickets,” Mr. Albers said.

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