Historical Horology: The Atmos Clock

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When it comes to watches, we’re used to the concept of an automatic movement, once that keeps itself running just by virtue of being on our wrists as we go about our day. Clocks, on the other hand, don’t enjoy that same luxury. As they’re not really being moved around, they’re dependent on electricity, manual winding, or resetting of weights that provide kinetic energy to the movement. As we’ve written before, there is one line of clocks that works without any visible external inputs.

That clock is, of course, the Atmos from Jaeger-LeCoultre. With these sort of creations, you’re not going to find it as springing fully formed from a monolithic company. No, when you dig into the history, you find that the Atmos was the creation of one Jean-Léon Reutter, who made the first prototype somewhere around 1927 or 1928.

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Interestingly enough, he wasn’t even working at JLC (at that time, known as LeCoultre), or any watch or clock company. He was employed as a radiological engineer at Company Generale de Radiologie (CGR). When he presented his idea to the directors of the company, they liked what they saw, creating a special workshop in 1929 for Reutter to head up and create these clocks.

It wasn’t until 1932 when LeCoultre entered the picture. They were originally brought in to manufacture movements for CGR, but they knew the Atmos was something special, and were interested in integrating into their own lineup. They worked towards that end, and in 1935 everything was transferred over to them.

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It took a few more years until JLC worked out things to their liking, but then the clock was on the market – and it was a popular one. By 1952, they had already managed to produce 50,000 of the atmospherically-driven clocks. Given that long and storied history, it’s no surprise to find a series of articles on the clocks, which is exactly what I ran across at Revolution Online. For more on this, head on over and check out part onetwo, and three of the series.

All images courtesy of Revolution Online

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