Omega Speedmaster Snoopy – What Is It?
What do Omega and Snoopy have in common?
Nothing, most people would say.
In fact, Omega and Snoopy has a close relationship, and have had so for several decades. But how can a luxury brand like Omega have a relationship with a cartoon character such as Snoopy?
The relationship may sound strange, but there is actually a good reason for it.
Let’s look closer at how Snoopy came to become a part of Omega’s history.
Omega and snoopy – Speedmaster history
To get to the story about Snoopy, we fist need to highlight Omega’s (more specifically the Speedmaster’s) close relationship with NASA and their space missions.
It has hardly gone unnoticed by anyone about Omega’s relationship with NASA considering how heavily Omega promotes it in their marketing.
In Omega’s own words ”The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is one of OMEGA’s most iconic timepieces. Having been a part of all six lunar missions, the legendary Speedmaster is an impressive representation of the brand’s adventurous pioneering spirit.”
The story has it that NASA had supplied Apollo astronauts with Speedmasters, but the watches were not made specifically made for NASA. Instead, they were bought directly from Omega retailers in Houston in order to evaluate their use for the Gemini and Apollo Programs. The truth of this has later been questioned.
But in the early 1960s, NASA had several watch brands for bidding and had them tested under extreme conditions to ensure they would be able to withstand a space expedition. Omega came out as the winner in March 1965 and NASA chose the Speedmaster as the official watch as it was the only watch that survived all tests, and still operating with acceptable accuracy.
This brings us to the story about Snoopy – and ultimately Omega.
Snoopy had great popularity among the Apollo lunar program. In fact, the Apollo 10 crew named their lunar model after him, and in turn also their command module Charlie Brown – Snoopy’s human friend. Following this, Snoopy was chosen for NASA’s manned flight awareness award, explained with the motivation that he was a character everyone could associate with. The Silver Snoopy Award is still awarded today, and this award is eventually what would bring Omega into the picture. The award is given to individuals and companies that ”contribute to the success of human space flight missions.”.
The award includes a sterling silver pin in the form of Snoopy wearing a space helmet and spacesuit. Recipients of the award also receive a certificate and a letter of commendation which has been personally signed by an astronaut. As mentioned, this award is also given to companies, and on the 5th of October 1970, Omega was awarded the Snoopy Award in recognition of the crucial role the Speedmaster has played in the Apollo 13 mission.
The certificate that Omega received quotes:
For dedication, professionalism and outstanding contributions in support of the first United States Manned Lunar Landing Project Apollo
The NASA Astronauts team recognizes the achievements of OMEGA Watch Company Switzerland.
So what importance had the Speedmaster had during the Apollo 13 mission? The story is actually rather dramatic, and proves that the Omega Speedmaster actually meant the difference between life and death.
During the Apollo 13 mission, one of the oxygen tanks exploded – thus limiting the operating function of the spacecraft. As a result of this incident, the spacecraft was brought to orbit the Moon in order to get it to a free-return back to earth. In doing this, all of the power except for the environmental control was shut down, meaning the only device for timing on the aircraft was the Omega Speedmaster worn by the astronauts.
During the dangerous return mission, the Speedmaster was used for performing two actions: to time the ignition of the rockets to ”time the ignition of the rockets to shorten the estimated length of the return to Earth”, and then again to time the ignition of the rockets to reduce the speed of descent and get the correct flight path angle for re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The last mentioned is of utmost importance as entering the atmosphere with an incorrect angle can lead to a disaster.
More specifically, and most crucially, Jack Swigert used his Speedmaster to time the 14-second burn using the lunar module’s descent propulsion system. Thanks to this, what could have ended in a disaster led to the safe return of the crew. And because of this, Omega was awarded the Snoopy Award as recognition.
WHY DID NASA CHOOSE SNOOPY AS A MASCOT? IN 1968, THEY CHOSE THE BEAGLE AS AN ICON TO EMPHASIZE MISSION SUCCESS AND TO ACT AS A ‘WATCHDOG’ FOR FLIGHT SAFETY. THEY ESTABLISHED THE AGENCY’S SILVER SNOOPY AWARD THAT SAME YEAR.
Omega’s first Speedmaster Snoopy edition
To commemorate this event, Omega released its first Snoopy-dedicated Speedmaster on the 2nd of April 2003.
The model released was the Speedmaster PROFESSIONAL MOONWATCH ”Snoopy Award” reference 3578.51.00.
This model has a 42mm stainless steel case, stainless steel bracelet, Hesalite crystal, and is powered by the caliber 1861. The 1861 caliber is an evolution of the previous generation 861 which had been used for any Speedmasters used by NASA. One of the most notable improvements of the movement includes a more corrosion-resistant rhodium-plating. The frequency of this movement remained the same, beating at 21,600 v/h.
Seemingly, a standard Speedmaster, but Omega had to add some distinct touches to make it a Snoopy Award commemoration watch. The details include adding the award patch insert into the continuous seconds counter at 9 o’clock on the dial, including the quote “Eyes on the Stars”. Furthermore, this watch has a case back also featuring the quote ”Eyes On the Stars”. The watch also has a new (sapphire) case back which has been etched and painted to include the Snoopy Award emblem.
Its production was limited to 5441 numbered pieces. Of course, there is a reason for this number. The number reflects the elapsed time of the Apollo 13 mission: 142 hours, 54 minutes, and 41 seconds.
Photo by Fratellowatches
Omega’s second Speedmaster Snoopy Edition
Omega eventually came to release another Snoopy Edition Speedmaster – which has proven to be perhaps even more collectible than the predecessor.
As a tribute to the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission and the Silver Snoopy Award that OMEGA received, the company released the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Limited Series Silver Snoopy Award (Apollo XII 45th Anniversary) reference 3184.108.40.206.04.003.
On the dial of this watch between zero and fourteen seconds, you will find the quote “What could you do in 14 seconds?”. This is a nod to the ”amount of time it took the Apollo 13 astronauts to perform one of the smaller mid-course corrections before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere”. Omega also added a sleeping Snoopy on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock, which ”dreams” the quote ”failure is not an option”.
Each caseback is crafted by hand and features a 925 silver Snoopy Awards medallion. The process includes hand-engraving the silver medallion, hand-enameling, and sprinkling silver powder to resemble the stars in the sky.
The watch has a striking white dial with black elements. The indexes are made of Super-LumiNova and have black varnished top cavities. Lastly, the watch has a tachymeter scale which has added Super-LumiNova for luminosity.
The watch is powered by the Omega caliber 1861 and has a 42mm stainless steel case, fitted on a black coated nylon fabric strap. The watch is limited to 1970 units, to commemorate the year of the Apollo 13.