Long-time watch manufacturer Jaeger-Lecoultre celebrated its 81st anniversary this year with an exhibition of its history during the Week of Design in Milan. Front and center in this exhibition was the new Atmos Clock, designed by the celebrated artist Marc Newson. The retro-themed piece was a kickback to the 1950's with a rounded cubicle form encased in Baccarat crystal bubble.
Designed by Jean-Leon Reutter in 1928, the Atmos clock has long been a point of engineering interest due to its ability to "live on thin air." While the original unofficially named Amos 0 ran on temperature changes alone, the current Atmos watch runs by slight changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure. As the outside atmosphere changes, a liquid within the watch known as ethyl chloride expands and compresses a spring within the watch. The compression of the spring winds the watch, which means the watch never has to be wound by hand.
In 1935 Jaeger-Lecoultre took over production of what was by then the Atmos 1 Watch, and began creating a second version of the watch which would eventually be called the Atmos 2. How Reutter and Jaeger-Lecoultre formed a relationship is unknown, but legend has it that one night in 1930 Jaeger-Lecoultre came upon the watch in a shop window, and purchased it. So taken with the watch, Jaeger-Lecoultre later purchased the patent and began commercial production of the watch.
The current design by Marc Newson is comprised of 888 pieces, and is part of a limited series. As should be expected, such works of art don't run cheap. Like its counterparts, this clock is in the price range of several thousand dollars, which few are able to afford, but many admire.
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