Nestled in Le Sentier, in the heart of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture, is a division dedicated solely to the building the famed Atmos clocks that almost runs on air.
Essentially powered by changes in atmospheric temperatures, the clock – made in some of the most elegant and unusual designs possible – can run continually without anyone touching it.
One of the most superb statement makers on the clock market, the Atmos Clock has been being built for almost a century and yet it is still as revolutionary today as it was when it was invented. In the Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos clock workshops, approximately 50 technical experts work together to build and test these beauties.
An objet d’ art since 1928, the Atmos clock was the result of a quest to develop a clock that could run for several centuries without requiring external intervention. It was developed by engineer Jean-Leon Reutter in 1928, and was immediately embraced by luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre. The early Atmos clocks were powered by changes n air pressure that would affect a column of mercury inside the clock and that would, in turn, power the mainspring.
But from 1939 onward, the substance was no longer allowed, and so the brand turned to capsules or tubes of gas (ethyl chloride) that, when temperatures increase or decrease, expand or contract and trigger winding of the clock’s mainspring.
Today, essentially, the clock mechanism is driven by infinitely small successive changes in temperature. The hermetically sealed capsule that contains the gaseous mixture that expands when the temperature rises and contracts when it drops. Together with the clock’s mainspring, the two wind the barrel with each atmospheric fluctuation. Even just one degree of temperature change powers the clock for two days.
The environmentally friendly mechanism was decades ahead of its time. To think that a single degree of temperature change can keep the clock running for decades is simply astounding. So unusual and special is the Atmos that it has been the gift of choice for innumerable presidents, socialites and diplomats, including President John F. Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill, General Charles De Gaulle, President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, King Hussein of Jordan and more.
Today, there are a host of stunning Atmos designs being offered that range from the Classic looks to marquetry and mystery clocks to special editions built with partners and artists such as Marc Newson.
All of the components for the clocks are made in the brand’s workshops and all of the clocks are hand assembled in the large Atmos room. They are then tested according to temperature changes before being released for sale. The Atmos clocks retail starting at $6,750 and go has high as a quarter of a million dollars for the marquetry pieces.