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Omega - The Return Of Snoopy

Omega The Return Of Snoopy

Half a century ago, Omega was awarded the Silver Snoopy by NASA for outstanding contributions to mission safety…

The story of Apollo 13, famously described as a “successful failure” has been immortalised in history and memorably on the cinema screen. When an electrical short ignited a pressurised oxygen tank on board, the ensuing explosion critically damaged the service module. The moon landing mission was aborted, with the new goal being to return to Earth as soon as possible, preserving all lives of the crew. At one point, a mechanical chronograph — the Omega Speedmaster — was used to time the 14 seconds needed to manually fire the rockets that would set the crew back on the path to terra firma. Because of this story and the Omega Speedmaster’s role in making sure no lives were lost, the Bienne watchmaker was awarded the Silver Snoopy, the highest honour given to ground crew and external partners for exceptional contributions to flight safety.

Omega Silver Snoopy

The original Silver Snoopy pin © Omega

It was on 5 October, 1970, that NASA presented Omega with the Silver Snoopy award, and now, 50 years later, a new Speedmaster has been released commemorating this occasion. The Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary comes in a steel case with blue ceramic bezel ring with white enamel numerals marking the tachymeter scale. The dial is silver, acknowledging the material of the award, and the frolicking Snoopy on the small seconds subdial is also of silver.

Omega Silver Snoopy

The new Omega Speedmaster © Omega

A unique double animation can be observed from the caseback. Two movement axes are extended so that they emerge from the rear of the movement. The small seconds axis bears a small circular representation of the Earth, continually turning. When the chronograph is activated, a tiny Snoopy in his Command and Service Module can be seen rounding the moon (imprinted on the inside of the caseback crystal), representing the course correction that the Apollo 13 crew took that relied on the Omega Speedmaster.

Omega Silver Snoopy

The Snoopy animation is visible through the caseback © Omega

The Snoopy in space is supported by a fine, near-invisible glass arm, which has been specifically etched out by acid, using a technique that ensures the arm is as precisely shaped and smooth-edged as possible. The result is an animated Snoopy in space flight that glides over the movement in an almost magical way.

Some serious adjustments had to go into this seemingly straightforward animation — the Space Snoopy arm is effectively the counterweight of the chronograph seconds hand, and the weight of the latter had to be reduced (by making it in aluminium) in order not to increase the energy required beyond normal chronograph operation.

Omega Silver Snoopy

NASA awards the Silver Snoopy to Omega in 1970 © Omega

Although the animation — similar to the Apollo 13 mission itself — may seem miraculous, both in fact owe everything to rock-solid engineering and mechanical excellence.

 

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A company of the Swatch Group, OMEGA has been behind major revolutions in watchmaking technology and the timekeeping of numerous Olympic Games. Its watches are worn by world-famous celebrities and have travelled to the moon, the depths of the ocean and everywhere in between.

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