Atmos Mechanical Clocks
History and description of the ATMOS clock, manufactured by the Swiss watchmakers Jaeger LeCoultre
Perpetual motion machines. Eternal time. Few things conjure up images as intense as these. The ATMOS clock is one of them. Though not a true perpetual motion machine (which was proven to be impossible by Albert Einstein), the ATMOS clock is the closest thing that humans have found. Painstakingly crafted by Jaeger LeCoultre, the watch making company known for its famous Reverso watch, the ATMOS can run for years without any outside power source. The Swiss company Jaeger LeCoultre has been known for quality timepieces since 1833 and the ATMOS is no exception to the rule.
The ATMOS clock is based upon the design of the Swiss engineer, Jean-Leon Reutter, who built one in 1928. Jaeger LeCoultre perfected the design and patented it, putting clocks on the market in 1936. Since then, the company has continued its commitment to excellence in manufacturing the ATMOS. Each clock is still hand-made in the traditional manner, requiring one month of time to build. The clock then undergoes five weeks of trial and adjustment before it is released from the factory in the Vallee De Joux in the Swiss Jura Mountains.
ATMOS clocks do not run on batteries or electricity of any kind. They run on temperature. As the temperature fluctuates, it causes the expansion and contraction of a mixture of gas and liquid (ethyl chloride), which is contained in a sealed capsule. As the capsule expands and contracts, it constantly winds the mainspring of the watch. Because there is no electricity, there is no quartz crystal in the ATMOS; it relies entirely upon precision manufacturing to continue its mechanical movement and accurate timekeeping. One degree (centigrade) of temperature fluctuation will power the clock for up to two days; as even the most closely air-conditioned home will fluctuate more than one degree over the course of an hour, much less two days, there is no question but that the clock will continue to keep time. Through its contraction and expansion, the ATMOS does use up energy, which is why it cannot be considered a perpetual motion machine, but it does so in such a natural and undemanding way that it exceeds all expectations of what a clock should do.
The entire clock is built with the finest components available. In order to insure their accurate timekeeping, the clocks are built to be as close to frictionless as any clock on the market. ATMOS clocks are so efficient that the energy used to power one fifteen watt light bulb could run sixty million ATMOS clocks simultaneously. Due to air pollution and the effects that it will have on such a precision machine, Jaeger LeCoultre suggests that the clocks get serviced every twenty years or so. The theoretical life of the clock, however, is a stunning 600 years.
Not willing to stop at just producing the most efficient mechanical movement in a clock, Jaeger LeCoultre takes its responsibility very seriously to insure that their clocks will be works of art as well. Each hand built clock has graceful curves and a well-thought out design to make it a lovely addition to any room in your house. Whether your passion is for a wood cabinet clock or a glass clock that appears to be floating in air, there is an ATMOS model for you.
ATMOS clocks are so well-respected for their beauty and efficiency that they have become prized possessions all around the world. Not only collectors enjoy these works of art, but many people receive them as gifts of state, retirement or for other reasons. Even Pope John Paul II has one. Even though ATMOS may be a clock design of the past, its incredible efficiency and craftsmanship insures that it will continue its reputation and value well into the future.