If you’re a watch enthusiast you’ll no doubt know about the connection between NASA and the legendary Omega Speedmaster. It’s an iconic relationship and one that Omega has leveraged since 1969, for good reason.

The Speedmaster was chosen, by NASA, as the official watch worn by astronauts on manned space missions. It was refined to provide essential additional functionality including a fixed bezel incremented to act as a Tachymeter which, along with the stopwatch function, was used to measure speed….hence the name. For what was such a high tech watch it’s perhaps odd to learn it had a velcro strap. But, the reason for this was so it could be worn inside or outside a spacesuit. It’s quite something to think that the  Omega Speedmaster was the first watch to land on the moon.

What’s less well known is the rather odd third party in this relationship – Snoopy, best friend of Charlie Brown!

For over half a century, Snoopy has been the “watchdog” for NASA’s safety programme. He represents mission success and keeps things light when the going gets tough. Out of this was born the Silver Snoopy Award which has been presented to people or companies who have contributed significantly to “the success of human space flight missions”, since 1968

So what does Snoopy have to do with the Omega Speedmaster?

Well, the watch itself is a past recipient of the award. Although that first step on the moon remains the most iconic moment of the Apollo era and space travel in general, it’s perhaps NASA’s most “successful failure” that many people, of a particular age, remember so well. In 1970, Apollo 13 suffered an explosion on the way to the moon and Jim Lovell, commander of the spacecraft uttered those famous words….“Houston, we’ve had a problem”.

Most of us will have seen the Tom Hanks movie which tells the story of remarkable teamwork by NASA to save three astronauts and against the odds bring them back to earth.  During that return journey astronaut Jack Swagert had to perform a 14 second burn of the main engine to ensure the correct trajectory for re-entry of the spacecraft. The timing for the manoeuvre was crucial and with many of the instruments on board having been turned off to save power the Omega Speedmaster stepped up and did the job. It’s for this exact reason that the watch was awarded the Silver Snoopy.

We think that’s a pretty cool story!

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