If there’s one thing that Omega got out of its partnership with NASA, it’s the opportunity to make lots and lots of special edition Speedmasters. It's like, every year there is an anniversary or person or occasion to commemorate. And yet amazingly, the watch manufacture never runs out of ways to reimagine and reinvent this iconic chronograph.
So as we take a good close look at the new Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary literally just unveiled via Instagram, we’ll see how this model is, far and away, the best Snoopy edition the brand has ever made.
But first, what is the Silver Snoopy Award? How did the world’s most famous beagle land inside an Omega timepiece?
The Silver Snoopy Award is a badge of appreciation presented to NASA employees and external contractors who have contributed significantly to the organisation’s missions. Made out of sterling silver and cast in the shape of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved cartoon beagle, the award was presented by the astronauts and NASA representatives to the recipients as an indication of their personal endorsement.
Why Snoopy, though? Why not a star, a planet, a rocket, or just something related to spacefaring?
Because NASA wanted this award to be easily understood by the American public, so a mascot would do the job perfectly—not unlike what Smokey The Bear had done for the United States Forest Service.
And Charles M. Schulz was apparently an avid supporter of the space program. In the early 60s, he’d published comic strips of Snoopy on the Moon. So when NASA directors knocked on his door, Schulz happily obliged, sketching up “Snoopy the Astronaut” drawings exclusively for NASA, and free of charge.
Meanwhile, Omega had been quietly supporting NASA space missions as early as 1962. The Speedmaster CK 2998 was selected by Wally Schirra aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 on Sigma 7; this was 3rd October, 1962. Then Gus Grissom and John Young wore officially qualified Speedmasters on the Gemini 3 program in 1965, and Ed White became the first American to attempt a space walk during the Gemini 4 flight in the same year.
NASA wanted this award to be easily understood by the American public, so a mascot would do the job perfectly.
Of course then there’s the historical Moon Landing mission Apollo 11 where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon. While Armstrong had left his Speedmaster inside the lunar module (it was used in place of the electronic timer which had malfunctioned), Aldrin managed to wear his one as they explored the Sea of Tranquility.
So the Omega Speedmaster, as George Clooney testifies, “is the watch that went to the Moon.”
But having gone to the moon and back wasn’t the reason why NASA presented Omega with the Silver Snoopy Award. That would happen a year later, on the 1970 Apollo 13 mission.
“Houston, we have a problem,” radioed Jack Swigert back to the NASA Mission Control Center, when an explosion ruptured its service module oxygen tank, crippling its propulsion and life support systems. To conserve the remaining resources, the crew transferred from the command module to the lunar module.
This was the critical moment where Swigert used his Omega Speedmaster to time the 14-second burn using the lunar module’s descent propulsion system, changing its flight path as it looped dramatically around the Moon before returning back to Earth, evading disaster.
And this was why NASA awarded the Silver Snoopy Award to Omega.
To date there are three, including this latest release, Silver Snoopy edition Speedmasters. The first, made in 2003, is almost exactly identical to the reference 145.012 which went to the Moon, except for the Snoopy medallion in full colour on its 9 o’clock sub-dial. On the reverse, it has the same image covering the entire case back.
Then in 2015, Omega followed up with a delightful white dial model featuring Snoopy lying adorably face down in the sub-dial with a thought bubble that says ‘Failure is not an option.’ It also has a very memorable 14-second countdown chapter that references the Apollo 13 incident, along with the phrase ‘What could you do in 14 seconds?’
On the back you have a silver Snoopy figurine engraved in relief and set on a dark blue enamel background covered with hand-sprinkled silver stars.
Out Of The Blue
And then we have this year’s new launch, which marks the 50th anniversary to the day Omega received the Silver Snoopy Award. Cased in stainless steel like its forebears, this one however brandishes a host of exciting technical upgrades.
This “blue panda” model arrives in a silver dial complete with blue-PVD angle-shaped hour markers and hands—look closely and you’ll see the dial is not flat but gently sloping at the outermost edge. The bezel has a blue ceramic ring etched with white enamel and the Snoopy at 9 o’clock stands under an arc that marks the jubilee.
But to discover the real surprise, you’ll have to turn the watch over. “Eyes on the stars” it says, and there are thousands of them dotting the midnight blue atmosphere. But we’re just mesmerised by the exquisite view of Earth as seen from the Moon.
And there’s more. Start the chronograph by pressing the pusher at 2 o’clock and who else but Snoopy comes whooshing out from beneath the surface, traversing the far side of the Moon like the intrepid explorer that he is. Watch the video above to see how it happens.
Backed by a five-year warranty, this watch is not a limited edition, which is probably the best news a watch aficionado could hear all day, although the waiting list is expected to be long.
The Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary is driven by the new and updated Master Chronometer Calibre 3861 introduced on the occasion of the 1969 Moon Landing’s 50th anniversary—told you, lots and lots of anniversaries.