The NASA and Omega connection go back in time all the way back to 1965 when the Swiss watchmaker’s Omega Speedmaster was declared « flight qualified for all manned space missions. » The chronograph subsequently became the first watch to be worn on the moon. The connection between Snoopy and the NASA also first started in the 1960s when Charles M. Schulz began creating comic strips depicting Snoopy on the moon. Snoopy became a symbol of space exploration so when NASA went looking for a face for its safety program, Snoopy was the obvious choice, the safety watchdog.
The astronauts of the NASA even created a prestigious prize in this name, the Silver Snoopy Award, created by Charles M. Schulz depicting the beagle in a spacesuit and wearing his famous Flying Ace scarf. The astronauts themselves present the award to individuals or companies that they believe have contributed to the « success of human space flight missions ». Fifty years ago, in 1970 Omega received this illustrious honor. While the house and the NASA have and continue to have a close collaboration it was back in 1970 and the Apollo 13 mission which best represents both Omega’s critical precision and the safety entrusted to Snoopy.
When an oxygen tank exploded on board Apollo 13 the crew was quickly moved into the Lunar Module. But the craft wasn’t geared for so many people for so much time as it had been designed to hold two men for two days on the surface of the moon. They had to shutdown nearly all of the power to conserve energy. The digital timers were obsolete. The astronauts had only their Omega Speedmasters to rely on for measuring time. Precious and precise time. As the mission had drifted off course they had to readjust the course of the craft which required an exact 14-second burn of the engine. Commander James Lovell used the Omega Speedmaster chronograph to time those 14 seconds. The world held its breath and Apollo 13 would safely splashed down.
Omega received the Silver Snoopy award, a sterling silver pin, from the hands of Apollo 10 commander Thomas P. Stafford and a Manned Flight Awareness Certificate signed by the crew of Apollo 13, James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. It was Jack Swigert’s watch that timed the 14 seconds.
« It was Omega that got them (the astronauts) back, and for that it was decided that they should receive a Silver Snoopy Award, » said Thomas P. Stafford.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the reception of the award, Omega has brought out an alluring, highly precise and exceptional timepiece commemorating Snoopy, NASA, and space travel. The Speedster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary watch brings together animation with the art of watchmaking. The beagle plays a prominent role within the eye-catching blue and silver timepiece.
He first appears as an embossed silver medallion in the blue sundial at 9 o’clock sporting his famous spacesuit. But it is on the case back that the fun really begins with Snoopy going into orbit in his animated black and white Command and Service Module. When the chronograph’s seconds hand is in use, Snoopy takes a trip around the far side of the moon —like the Apollo 13 crew — with the lunar surface being decorated on the sapphire crystal. Planet Earth can be seen in the distance. The watch’s blue nylon strap, matching the other blue elements of the watch, features the trajectory of the Apollo 13 mission embossed on the lining.
The watch is enclosed in a 42 millimeter case in stainless steel inspired by the fourth generation of Speedmasters (the one that went to the moon in 1969). it comes with Omega’s full five-year warranty and will not be a limited edition so every fan will be able to get into the act. The timepiece is delivered in an Apollo 13 presentation box and comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth, a brochure and a magnifying glass to have an up close look at the details.
Omega has made unique contributions to space exploration. When asked how important Omega’s contributions to the space program have been, James Lovell replied, « Quite simply, Omega was an essential part to a successful mission. »
©The Gourmet Gazette
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