The Anniversary Clock Project — Preview

Two summers ago I was in an antique store and asked on a whim whether the owner had any “mechanical clocks or time pieces”.

He said “No, I’m sorry I don’t. But I do have this fun clock here.”

He handed me a Kundo clock, which is in fact a mechanical clock. The contradiction made my head hurt slightly, but I was fascinated by what looked like a beautiful clock. He said it needed to be serviced / fixed, and I wondered if my recently formed passion for watches would propel me all the way into buying what I thought might be an expensive object (needing repair no less).

I asked “How much is it?” and he said “Forty bucks”.

And so I bought it immediately and then plunged myself into the world of what I now know are called “Anniversary Clocks”.


It turns out that such clocks have a bit of a cult following, and I was proud to be its latest member. Anniversary clocks are so-named because you only need to wind them once and they reportedly run for 400 days. Not quite the perpetual motion machine of the might ATMOS (see my essay on Atmos here), but very impressive.

I found my way to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) and discovered a whole world of Kundo Anniversary Clock aficionados and enthusiasts. I asked for some guidance from the group about my find and ended up believing that I would clean and repair the clock myself.

Needless to say I have never started the journey, but with this essay I am putting a stake in the ground and saying: stay tuned for a blog journey of whether I can pull off this task. I will likely screw it up (not being a clock maker…), but the journey is the goal, as they say.

Atmos Love

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 atmos-side-viewslows 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.

I was moved to write about Atmos today because I saw a nice piece on, <link>, which featured an Atmos in Baccarat crystal.



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.