Omega and Peanuts Worldwide, which owns the rights to the Peanuts comic-strip characters, certainly have a special connection. At the watch brand’s request, the cartoonists carrying on Charles M. Schulz’s legacy have drawn Snoopy sporting an Omega watch, ready for his future missions to the Moon. While it may take a stretch of the imagination to recognise the Speedmaster on the canine astronaut’s paw, Snoopy, Omega and NASA form a trio that goes way back…
Back in 1968, Snoopy was a natural choice as the mascot, or rather “watchdog”, for the agency’s safety programme. As Omega reminds us, Snoopy represents total mission success but also keeps things light in serious situations. In fact NASA’s astronauts grew to love him so much they created a prestigious award in his name. Designed by Charles M. Schulz, the Silver Snoopy Award shows the beagle wearing a spacesuit and his famous Flying Ace scarf. The award is presented by the astronauts themselves to individuals or companies which have significantly contributed to the success of NASA’s manned space flight missions. Proof of what an honour it is, since 1968 only 1% of eligible recipients have received the award.
Omega onboarded NASA’s space programmes as of 1965, having passed a raft of tests to become flight-qualified for the Gemini then Apollo missions. The first watch to be worn on the Moon in 1969, the Omega Speedmaster would play a critical role during the Apollo 13 mission the following year when an oxygen tank exploded and the crew was forced to transfer to the lunar module. With digital timers shut down, astronaut Jack Swigert used his Speedmaster to exactly time the 14-second burn of the engine that would put the module back on its intended trajectory to re-enter the atmosphere and bring the crew safely back to Earth.
Unsurprisingly, this vital “contribution” – and remarkable proof of its watches’ quality – earned Omega a Silver Snoopy Award which was presented on October 5, 1970. Omega would come up with its own tribute, though not until 2003 when it launched the first Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award as a limited edition of 5,441 pieces. The small seconds subdial features Snoopy in an astronaut suit, as depicted on the silver lapel pin that is given with the award. A second Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award followed in 2015, this time limited to 1,970 pieces, for the award’s 45th anniversary. This is a white-dial model with a 14-seconds scale formed by 14 squares and, underneath, text that reads “What could you do in 14 seconds?”. A luminous Snoopy reappears in the small seconds subdial, this time with a thought bubble declaring that “Failure is not an option” (a quote from the Apollo 13 movie). The Silver Snoopy lapel pin is referenced on the caseback by a carved figure in a silver medallion under a sapphire crystal, against a backdrop of blue enamel on silver scattered with silver powder.
Now, for the 50th anniversary of the Silver Snoopy Award, Omega has upped the ante with a third limited edition that goes beyond Snoopy-themed decorations. This third Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award introduces an ingenious as well as adorable mechanical elaboration on the caseback that shows the far side of the Moon and, way off in the distance, Earth. Coaxially mounted on the small seconds hand, the blue Earth disc rotates once per minute. Similarly, the chronograph seconds hand is coaxially mounted with a counterweight arm that carries astronaut Snoopy in his command module. Whenever the chronograph seconds are in use, the intrepid beagle goes into orbit around the Moon. With charming attention to detail, Snoopy’s trajectory is calculated so that, after the first 14 seconds, the module begins its return to Earth.
Gregory Kissling, head of product development at Omega, points to other details and to processes that would normally be hand-executed but instead have been successfully industrialised. For example, the realistic Moon is achieved by a unique process of micro-structured metallisation of the sapphire crystal. The dimpled effect is created by laser ablation. The arm that carries Snoopy in his module is in glass to give the impression of floating through space. Similar attention is paid to the blue ceramic bezel which has grand feu enamel inserts for the tachymeter scale. On the caseback side, Omega’s Naiad Lock ensures that all the engravings remain in the proper upright position. As for the strap, it has the Apollo 13 mission trajectory embossed on its lining. No wonder Snoopy is jumping for joy in the small seconds subdial! Powering this special edition watch is the manually wound Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861.