An adventure in space and time: Omega celebrates its NASA legacy by redesigning the Speedmaster
From Olympic timekeeping to being 007’s timepiece of choice, Omega’s reputation for precision and adventure runs far and deep. Being selected by NASA as its official watch in 1965 proves just how great a distance Omega has travelled. Whilst searching for a durable and accurate chronograph to accompany astronauts on its Gemini and Apollo missions, NASA issued a call to watch brands for suitable submissions in 1964. Of the four brands that did respond, only one specimen was able to withstand the rigorous temperature, pressure and vibration tests - Omega’s Speedmaster was declared ’flight qualified for all manned space missions’ the following year.
Last week, Omega celebrated the 45th anniversary of the 1970 Apollo 13 mission, which, despite going awry, was feted for the ingenuity and courage of its commander Jim Lovell and pilots Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. In fact, it was on Omega’s Speedmaster chronograph, strapped on with Velcro on top of the astronauts’ suits, that Jim Lovell counted those crucial 14 seconds before firing the space module’s engines to redirect the ship’s return course to earth. Omega was subsequently honoured with the Silver Snoopy Award later in the year - an accolade that’s bestowed on NASA employees or contractors for outstanding achievements in flight safety and mission success.
To do this legacy justice, Omega has released a new, redesigned version of its Speedmaster featuring Charles Schulz’s lovable canine character on its dial and caseback. Snoopy’s image was selected as the face of the award as the cartoons were printed in newspapers and widely recognisable by young and old alike. On the watch, which boasts a white dial, black varnished hands and a polished black ceramic bezel, Snoopy can be found on the small seconds sub-dial at the 9 o’clock marker dreaming - possibly of space travel. He also cheerfully adorns the watch’s caseback in full astronaut gear, as he appears in Silver Snoopy Award imagery and on the lapel pin that is bestowed as part of the award. Realised by hand as a silver medallion, no two are alike.
The space references don’t stop there. The watch is inscribed with the words, ’What could you do in 14 seconds?’ along the first 14 seconds of the dial, while the famous line, ’Failure is not an option’, appears in the centre of the watch face. (These words were immortalised by Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz, who was integral in bringing the mission safely back to earth.) With only 1,970 of the watches in production, each is a true collector’s piece for the space age and beyond.