The Atmos clock by Jaeger Le Coultre is a true focused pleasure, not only in its design and aesthetics but also in its mechanical movement and use of air to power it (minute changes in temperature cause its innards to expand and contract, enough to run the clock for several decades before enough dust builds up to slow it down…essentially a perpetual motion machine, or as close as one can come to such a thing).
I am lucky enough to own this one:
It sits nears my desk, silently running without any intervention by me (no winding, no nothing). The wheel on the bottom rotates in one direction for about 30 seconds, then slows down and reverses, spinning the other way. The minute hand moves twice in each minute, using almost no power to do so.
The roman numerals in blue are pure joy, and I have found that I prefer watch dials that utilize roman numerals, such as these beauties by three brands that happen to occupy the top spots on my wish list:
The watch and clock world has an infinite variety of dials and I can always be put off by this or that feature (the shape of the hands alone, or the maker’s logo, etc). And then some are perfect (to my own taste) in every way, such as the clock face of my Atmos Classique.
Recently I was in an antique store and as always I found a few watch items here and there to pique my interest.
On that trip, I found this item tucked away on a lower shelf, well out of view (photo was floor level):
You can see that this is an Atmos clock from 1952 — JLC has been making them for a long time. It was not running, which must have meant that the “stop” mechanism had been been activated from underneath the clock (to keep the spinning weight from moving and getting jostled in transit). I say this because the tag says it was serviced in 2008, and so it should be in good working order for at least a decade or two (or more).
My father has an Atmos on his mantle that dates from the 1980s and it looks very similar to this 1952 specimen. It ran for about 20 years and then stopped. I looked into the cost of servicing it (highly specialized, as one would imagine) and found it to be around $700.
This Atmos comes with a price of $28,000 versus the more typical $6,750 of the basic models.
A quick view of the JLC Atmos site <link> revealed the following marvelous piece:
This combination of mechanical design prowess, beauty, and quality is for me one of the highest expressions of an advanced human civilization.
It won’t last, but it is here now and I am grateful.