It’s not easy for a timepiece to have an indelible role in something extraordinary. It’s also not easy to bring a crippled capsule back to earth in one piece. Since the first moon landing in 1969, OMEGA watches have been onboard NASA shuttles as the official watch of US astronauts.
You might not think, what with all the technical equipment onboard and back at base — the literal rocket science at work — that it would matter if astronauts knew what time it was. But consider Apollo 13. In 1970, Captain James Lovell and his crew went up with plans to land on the moon. A small fire and loss of oxygen meant that the landing was aborted and the men had to find a way to get home safely. (You remember the film, so we don’t need to tell you how that went. Tom Hanks remains unscathed.)
“It was necessary to maneuvre without the use of our equipment,” explained Lovell, at an event in Houston celebrating OMEGA’s involvement with the Apollo 13 mission. “We had to burn the engine for 14 seconds in order to course correct. We used the watch to time the burn of the engine and return safely.”
To commemorate that unforgettable mission, OMEGA released the Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award watch, an ode to the Silver Snoopy Award that OMEGA was presented with in 1970 in recognition of its contributions to the Apollo program. Snoopy, the beloved dog from the Peanuts cartoon and a NASA mascot, decorates the dial and the case back, while two inscriptions can be found on the front: “What could you do in 14 seconds?” written underneath the dial and “Failure is not an option” at the centre.