The History Of The Atmos Clock


"Living On Air"

The History of the Legendary Atmos Clock:

In the late 1920s Jean-Leon Reutter, a young Paris engineer, experimented with a clock that needed no direct mechanical or electrical intervention to keep it wound, in short a clock powered only by Perpetual Motion.

For centuries, many scientist including Leonardo Da Vinci had experimented with the idea of Perpetual Motion - however, only J.L. Reutter eventually succeeded at incorporating that novel idea into an actual working clock.

Through out his life, J.L. Reutter's dream of a Perpetual Motion timepiece led him to produce a clock with a timekeeping mechanism designed specifically to consume the smallest possible amount of power to keep the clock running satisfactorily.

After studying the design of the 400-Day Anniversary Clock -which was very popular during that era - Reutter made significant changes to that concept, to meet the small input power requirement he was looking for in his new clock design.

Reutters modifications of the 400-Day Clock included changes to the escapement leverage to reduce the arc of the escapement as well as adding jewels to the bearings of the movement. His new clock ran safely and most importantly very reliably.

His new clock design included a special device that would power his clock independently, using a substance that would react to the most sensitive changes in temperature and atmospheric conditions. That substance was mercury. He also designed a special glass tube similar to that of a thermometer for the mercury and encased it all inside a metal cylinder, which is now known as the Bellows.

The result of Reutters achievement was an ingenious new clock unlike any other, past or present. A timepiece that could run independently and continuously and so incredibly sensitive, that it could be rewound by the slightest fluctuations in the atmosphere, or by the slightest changes in temperature, hence the name: "Atmos Clock".

Later, due to dangers in handling and instability, the mercury in the Bellows that powered the Atmos Clock was changed to a special more stable saturated gas, known scientifically as 'Ethyl Chloride'. The technological concept of the Gas filled Atmos Bellows is a remarkable one: Inside a sealed capsule, a mixture of gas and liquid expands as the temperature rises and contracts as it falls, moving the capsule back and forth like a tiny unseen accordion. This motion is used to constantly wind the mainspring thus enabling the clock to run and keep perfect time. A small temperature variation of just one degree is sufficient for over two day's operation. Such variation occurs naturally in normal room temperature and thus without any additional sources of energy, the Atmos clock will continue to run if left untouched, "forever". Hence the term: "Living On Air".

The Marriage of Atmos and Jaeger-LeCoultre

When Reutters Atmos was in its initial production in the early thirties, the lack of enthusiasm from manufactures in general during that time made production of the Atmos clock difficult. Reutter Atmos was in production, but only in small numbers.

Legend has it, while Reutter struggled with production of his Atmos Clock, the manager of a famous Swiss watch making company LeCoultre (a company world famous for fine Swiss watches located in the French Valley of Switzerland) was strolling down a street in Paris one day and noticed one of Reutters Atmos Clocks sitting in a shop window for sale. The man was so fascinated with Reutters Atmos; he walked in and purchased it from the shop merchant.

Later, after a chance encounter between LeCoultre and Reutter he (Reutter) agreed to sell the license and eventually his Atmos Clock patent to the LeCoultre Watch Company.

At the time of LeCoultres acquisition of the Atmos patent, LeCoultre was in fierce competition with another Watch Company, Ed Jaeger of Paris. Eventually LeCoultre merged with Jaeger to form the famous watch making company: Jaeger-LeCoultre.

With the combined knowledge and expertise of their newly joined Company, Jaeger & LeCoultre poured considerable investment collective research and development into Reutter's Atmos Clock. Just a few years later, major production of the newly revamped Atmos Clock was launched under the Jaeger-LeCoultre name exclusively.

The LeCoultre Atmos Clock soon became a very fashionable, prestigious gift in Switzerland and eventually Worldwide.

As the success of both Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Atmos clock continued to grow, the company prospered and in 1979, the 500,000th Atmos Clock left the Factory in Switzerland with much celebrated fan-fair, a half a century after the first Atmos Clock patent was filed.



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