Snoopy On The Dial
When I post a picture of my Speedmaster Snoopy watches on Instagram, or when writing an article about this watch, I still get questions why there is a Snoopy on the dial. Or what the connection is between Snoopy and the Speedmaster. This question has been answered before by me in an article for WatchTime magazine. However, Omega introduced the Silver Snoopy Award last year, so the question was raised again a couple of times.
Snoopy And NASA – Background Story
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.
Charles M. Schulz
Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who created the “Peanuts” comic strip was a supporter of the NASA Apollo missions and agreed to let them use “Snoopy the astronaut” at no cost. He even drew the Snoopy figure for the sterling silver label pin.
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 Lunar Module (LM) 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.
Role of the Speedmaster
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, starring Tom 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 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 14 seconds 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.
So now you know. When there is a Snoopy on the dial of a Speedmaster, 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.
Omega Speedmaster Snoopy Award
In 2003, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Professional “Snoopy Award” to commemorate this 1970 milestone. As a limited edition, Omega produced 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.
Omega’s reason for introducing this watch with a Snoopy on the dial 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 Snoopy on the dial and caseback fitted later on (Omega delivered them to service centers as spare parts). This watch is long sold out, but you might be able to source one via eBay or Chrono24. Prices are around the €7500-8000 Euro range. Below, an image of my own Speedmaster Professional Snoopy Award.
Last year, for the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award. You can read our hands-on in-depth review of the second Speedmaster with a Snoopy on the dial. This limited edition of 1970 pieces only is a bit more ‘over the top’ than its 2003 predecessor. A white dial with several comic details, like a sleeping Snoopy at 9 o’clock, 14 comic frames on the minute track and a text balloon above the center pinion. The caseback shows the large Snoopy, made of sterling silver. The Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award is sold out, but can be found in unused condition on Chrono24. Prices vary between 10K and 15K Euro. Below, my personal Speedmaster Silver Award Snoopy on a grey suede strap (by StrapsByFleur).