One of the most interesting (and certainly unique) Speedmaster Reduced‘s belongs to UK-based engraver Johnny Dowell, better known as King Nerd. From the dial side it looks like a regular Reduced, with a bright and happy yellow dial, but turn it over and take it off and it becomes something very special indeed. The caseback features Snoopy, in an F1 car bearing Michael Schumacher’s number seven, racing through a giant Omega logo. The details don’t stop there, as the folding clasp also features Snoopy-as-Schumacher, holding aloft the Formula 1 Championship trophy.
I recently spoke to King Nerd on a podcast I co-host called OT: The Podcast, and thought that one-of-a-kind Omega Speedmaster Reduced story would be perfect for Speedy Tuesday.
Tell us about your unique Snoopy Speedmaster Reduced?
“Basically, when I was working with George (Bamford), I always loved going to his office — The Hive — there are just toys everywhere. One day I expect he’s going to press a button and an Aston Martin DB5 is going to come out from under the table or something. So I’d be in there, working away and thinking I really want one of these watches. And at the time, I was on an alright wage, but I wasn’t going to buy a watch because I had my first child, and had to buy other things instead. So I was wracking my brain and I thought ‘I’ve got to do something that George hasn’t got’, and I knew I wanted to engrave something. Then I came across Snoopy and the Omega connection and I knew it had to be something Snoopy. But I wanted one that no one else had. And then I came across the Schumacher edition, and straight away I knew I knew I had to connect Snoopy with Omega and Schumacher. I got the yellow one because I prefer the colour. It’s bright, and I don’t really wear anything red.”
What were your first thoughts?
“So I got the watch, and it’s funny, I didn’t look at the size of the watch, so when I got it I thought ‘has this shrunk?’ – I didn’t realise it was the Reduced model, and I was quite pleasantly surprised as I’ve got small wrists and it fits perfectly. I looked at the caseback, and I didn’t realise it was going to have all the stuff on the back — there was the seahorse and all the rest. I started contacting people on Instagram to find a blank caseback, and everyone said I was going to find that hard, I would have had to get one made.”
What did you do?
“I went to the people I knew at Purdey (where Johnny used to work), and asked them to grind everything off the back, so I would have a completely blank canvas. It became a massive operation; everyone was worried about going through it. We were measuring it with micrometres, and grinding it by hand. We were getting really close, and I said stop, I’ll polish it, and you won’t notice anything left over.
What’s quite interesting is that when I inlaid the gold seven, it’s so close. When you take the caseback off, you can see the metal is slightly raised where I’m about to go through it. I hadn’t taken into account that they’d grind it back and then I’d have to take more metal out to inlay the 24-karat gold.
I remember thinking gosh that feels really thin, and I decided to stop, as I knew I’d go through, but luckily I had enough.”
How has it worn over the years?
“Great actually, stainless steel is a horrible metal to engrave, but I understand why they do watch cases out of it. You can beat the shit out of them, and they survive. There’s nothing a polish or a brush can’t sort out.”