Snoopy Watches: How Brands are Embracing the Beloved Peanuts Character
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Snoopy Watches: How Brands are Embracing the Beloved Peanuts Character

Charles M. Schulz published his first Peanuts comics strip in 1950, setting the foundation for a world of iconic characters like Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, and perhaps most famously, Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy, an irrepressible beagle originally based on a drawing of Schulz’s childhood pet, Spike. Peanuts grew from humble beginnings (syndicated in just seven newspapers)  to become the most popular and influential comics strip in the world, published in more than 2,600 newspapers from 1950 to 2000 and claiming a worldwide readership of 355 million in 75 countries. It also spawned an entertainment and marketing phenomenon, with numerous animated film and TV specials that have stood the test of time and a flood of branded products that continues into the modern era. Snoopy, including all his various, beloved “fantasy life” iterations — like the World War I Flying Ace and the beatnik-inspired, shades-wearing “Joe Cool” — remains one of the most famous and recognizable characters in the world, and his likeness can be found on merchandise from backpacks and sweatshirts, to notebooks and wrapping paper, to mugs and glassware, to the world’s most famous giant parade balloon.

Armitron Snoopy Watch 1958

It was more or less inevitable that Snoopy, and others from the Peanuts gang, would also find their way onto watches, the first one coming from New York-based Armitron in 1956 (above). The last original Peanuts cartoon strip ran on February 13, 2000, one day after Charles M. Schulz died peacefully in his sleep the night before. But Snoopy remains a popular presence on watch dials here in the 21st Century. Here are six watch brands that are most closely associated with Snoopy watches today.

Timex

Founded in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company, and achieving historic success through its mission to “democratize” timekeeping for the masses, Timex is the quintessential American watch brand, making it an ideal partner for some the most quintessentially American pop culture institutions. The brand (when it was still known as Ingersoll-Waterbury) collaborated with Walt Disney on the first officially licensed Mickey Mouse watches in 1933, and in 1969, released its first Peanuts-themed watches, in a license deal with Schulz and his distributors, United Feature Syndicate, in 1969.

Timex x Peanuts Snoopy Watch 

For the 70th anniversary of the publication of Peanuts in 2020, Timex released the Timex x Peanuts collection, with character-themed watches spread out across some of the watchmaker’s most popular modern models, including the Q Timex 1979 Reissue, the Marlin Automatic, and the Timex Standard. The 38mm, silver-toned brass model pictured is appealing in its playful simplicity, with Snoopy’s arms serving as hour and minute pointers (the former with a paw holding a baseball, the latter with a bat), and his red cap playing off the tones of the fabric strap. A quartz analog movement beats inside the polished case.

Seiko 

Japan’s Seiko, founded in 1881, is today one of the world’s largest and most well-known manufacturers of affordably priced watches, equipping those watches with both quartz movements (an innovation in which Seiko was the watch industry’s primary pioneer) as well as traditional mechanical movements. It is the latter type of movement that animates the popular Seiko 5 Sports series, regarded by enthusiasts as one of the watch world’s most enticing value propositions. Introduced as the Sportsmatic 5 in 1963, and revived as a distinct collection in Seiko’s massive portfolio in 2019, Seiko 5 Sports watches are recognizable for their five stated attributes: automatic movements, day/date displays in a single window, water resistance, a recessed crown at 4 o’clock, and a case and bracelet made of durable materials. All these elements are present in the two Peanuts special editions that debuted in 2023 (the 55th anniversary of the 5 Sports family), the SRPK25 and SRPK27, both featuring the lovable beagle on the dial, the latter model also including Snoopy’s best friend Woodstock, an adventurous yellow canary.

Seiko 5 Sports Snoopy SRPK25The dial of the SRPK25 (above) depicts Snoopy as a surfer, while the SRPK27’s dial features Snoopy flying through the air like a helicopter, his floppy ears serving as a propellor, while Woodstock pilots. In a subtle touch of authenticity to the original comic strips from which these images are drawn, the numerals on the dial of the SRPK27 (below), a pilot-style watch, and those on the bezel of the diver-style SRPK25, are evocative of Schulz’s own hand-written script. Both Seiko 5 Sports 55th Anniversary Peanuts Limited Editions are in 38mm steel cases, with specially designed Limited Edition caseback engravings and a Snoopy ‘paw print” motif on the crown, and contain the automatic Seiko Caliber 4R36, with day-date function and hacking seconds. The SRPK25 retails for $425, the SRPK27 for $400.

Seiko 5 Sports Snoopy SRPK27

Swatch

Switzerland’s response to the quartz revolution ushered into the industry by Seiko and other Asian companies — which threatened the very existence of traditional Swiss watchmakers, still using more expensive mechanical movements — was Swatch, a brand established in 1983 by a team of Swiss watch-industry visionaries led by Nicolas G. Hayek. Swatch was notable for not only adopting its own mass-produced quartz movements made in Switzerland but for combining the new technology with jaunty, colorful designs, fashion-friendly and cheap-to-produce plastic cases and straps, and price points that were affordable to all, especially style-conscious ‘80s teens who either hadn’t been wearing watches or were sporting digital timekeepers from the likes of Casio and Pulsar.

Swatch Snoopy Watch

The “Swatch Mania” that gripped that decade has largely abated — some recent, very high-profile collaboration pieces notwithstanding — but the Swatch brand continues to carry forward its mission to merge pop culture with affordable watchmaking. In 2021, the Swatch x Peanuts collection debuted, with cases and crystals made from “biosourced materials,” and dials and straps adorned with depictions of classic scenes from Peanuts comic strips. Six models were released in total, each focusing on a different character or characters. Paying homage both to Snoopy’s imaginary adventures and exploits over the years and to Swatch’s origins, the Grande Brachetta model (pictured) sports a dial with Snoopy poised next to a Swiss flag; the beagle’s many alter egos are depicted on the silicone strap: Snoopy as astronaut, as chef, et cetera. Priced at $95, each watch comes in a comic-strip-inspired box and collectors of all six can also get a bespoke frame to display them together.

Franck Muller x Bamford Watch Department

London’s George Bamford began his watch-industry career by customizing watches made by established brands — to both the delight of his very choosy customers and the chagrin of the brands themselves. Nowadays, however, his company, Bamford Watch Department maintains more “official” relationships with some of the industry’s top watchmakers, which hire Bamford to create outside-the-box special editions. His clients now include TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Girard-Perregaux, and “Master of Complications” Franck Muller, with whom he has collaborated on some of the most technically idiosyncratic watches featuring Snoopy, starting in 2021 with a Snoopy-dial version of Muller’s signature Crazy Hours complication.

Franck Muller x Bamford Snoopy Crazy Hours Arctic

As its name implies, Crazy Hours dials feature a lineup of hour numerals in a jumbled order, and an hour hand that jumps around them, making it difficult at first glance for the viewer to read the actual time; to do so, simply train yourself to read the hour from whichever numeral the hour hand is pointing to while reading the minute hand intuitively as usual: if the hour hand is pointing at an 11 — even if it’s at the traditional 3 o’clock position — and the minute hand is pointing toward 6 o’clock — even if the numeral there is a 2 — it’s 11:30. The Snoopy version uses the character’s arms for the jumping hands. All 25 pieces of the first Franck Muller x Bamford Watch Department Snoopy-Inspired Crazy Hours model, in a matte-black tonneau case, sold out; its follow-up, the Crazy Hours Arctic Snoopy (above), arrived in 2023 as a 45-piece limited edition, price upon request. The watch’s hallmark barrel-shaped case is made of titanium coated in baked white enamel and 36mm wide, making it a smidgen smaller than the original. In addition to Snoopy’s arms jumping around to the Crazy Hours numerals, the dial features Woodstock perched on the 3 and 4 hour numerals (placed at 5 and 10 o’clock, respectively).

Bamford x Revolution

George Bamford’s own watchmaking label, Bamford London, started in 2016 and has delved into partnerships of its own, including one with the international watch-enthusiast publication Revolution, a collaboration that in 2021 produced the Bamford x Revolution GMT Joe Cool, a limited edition of 100 pieces. The white dial features Snoopy in his laconic Joe Cool persona, an alter ego first adopted in the comics in 1971, with his two arms as the main handset and a third pointer with the figure of Woodstock perched on the tip, the latter indicating a second time zone on the 24-hour scale that occupies the dial’s flange.

Bamford x Revolution GMT Joe Cool

This inner rotating GMT bezel, along with other elements including the hour markers and the “Joe Cool” central figure, is fully luminous for nighttime legibility. The stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter and 11.7mm thick and contains a Swiss-made Sellita SW330-2 movement. Delivered on a black cordura strap, the watch comes in a specially made, fully lumed box in the shape of Snoopy’s doghouse; all of this comes at a “cool” $1,850.

Omega

In the highest echelon of watch appreciation and erudition, the watch brand most associated with Snoopy is the Swiss high-horology house Omega, founded in 1848. Specifically, it is the “Silver Snoopy Award” versions of Omega’s most famous timepiece, the Omega Speedmaster, aka the “Moonwatch,” that are regarded as some of the most desirable and collectible wristwatches in the world. How did Snoopy find himself on the dial of a luxury chronograph watch that also made history as the first watch worn on the moon? As I explore in much greater detail in this article, Charles Schulz was a big supporter of NASA in the 1960s and ‘70s, and consented to having his character (most often outfitted in an astronaut helmet) used as a mascot for the space program. 

NASA Silver Snoopy lapel pin

In keeping with the arrangement, NASA established in 1968 the “Silver Snoopy” Award, bestowed upon individuals who have achieved, as per its certificate, “professionalism, dedication, and outstanding support that greatly enhanced space flight safety and mission success.” Award recipients receive a sterling silver lapel pin (above) depicting an astronaut-helmeted Snoopy. One of the first winners of the Silver Snoopy was Omega, maker of the watch that helped bring astronauts home safely after the aborted Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Omega unveiled the first “Silver Snoopy” Speedmaster in 2003, with the lapel pin’s Snoopy image, situated in the watch’s 9 o’clock subdial, identifying it as a special commemorative edition. The model was a huge success and begat several other Silver Snoopy Editions in the subsequent years.

Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 2020

The most recent, and most noteworthy, is the Anniversary Edition released in 2020 (MSRP: $10,600), commemorating 50 years since Omega received its first “Silver Snoopy” award from NASA in 1970. The watch has the classic Speedmaster configuration, with a 42mm steel case, tachymeter-scale bezel (here in blue ceramic), and tricompax dial with blue PVD indexes and blue subdials for chronograph minutes and hours and running seconds — the latter subdial featuring an image of the astronaut Snoopy. The cartoon beagle also makes an appearance on the back of the watch, in a spacecraft poised at the tip of a hand, which begins cruising in a circle when the chronograph, powered by Omega’s manually wound Master Chronometer Caliber 3861, is activated. Fans breathlessly await Omega’s next “Silver Snoopy” Speedmaster, while the vintage models sell for princely sums on the secondary market, proving that Charles M. Schulz’s cartoon beagle isn’t through taking over the world, even if he’s doing it from the moon.

Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy 2020 back 

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LeAnn P.

WOW what a true story. Snoopy sure has conquered a lot of feats. A very interesting and enjoyable read. I am glad to be a proud owner of the winter BRR! Timex

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