Housed in a cylindrical glass container, JLC’s latest clock, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos Infinite, is a contemporary work of mechanical art that keeps its movement beating in perpetuity thanks to minuscule changes in the air temperature. The transparency of the container showcases the distinctive shape of its movement, from the annular balance at its base to the bellows, chains and gears. The minimalist design harks back to the first Atmos clocks of the 20th century with their rounded glass domes and sleek Art Deco design.
A Perpetual Calibre running on Air
Harnessing the power of changes in temperature to power mechanisms is hardly new. Heron of Alexandria (10 AD – 70 AD), a mathematician and engineer from the aforementioned city, constructed automatic devices powered by hot air, light years before the invention of the steam engine. You can read all about the history leading up to the Atmos, but suffice it to say that the predecessor of the Atmos clock appeared in Switzerland, designed by engineer Jean-Léon Reutter in 1928. His prototype was commercialised by Compagnie Générale Radio of France and production entrusted to Jaeger-LeCoultre from 1935. Leaning heavily on the streamlined design cues of Art Deco and housed in rounded airtight glass domes, Jaeger’s Atmos would become the classic mantelpiece clock of the 20th century. Since then, the Atmos reflects the changing styles of the decades and has become a canvas for creativity, with exceptional pieces like the Atmos by designer Marc Newson presented in a Baccarat crystal case that looks like an ice cube.
The secret of the Atmos lies in a hermetically sealed capsule filled with gas and connected to the drive spring by a membrane. The slightest variation in temperature changes the volume of the gas, causing the membrane to contract and expand like the bellows of an accordion and wind the spring. Even a one degree Celsius temperature fluctuation is enough to keep the clock ticking for two days, so, in principle, the Atmos can beat forever.
The mechanism of the Atmos Infinite is held in place by virtually invisible glass supports, promoting the sensation that the clock is floating in a glass container (215mm diameter x 253mm height). Time is indicated on the black lacquered ring with applied and polished baton-shaped markers for the hours; the hands match the silvery rhodium finishing of the mechanism, and the minutes hand is slightly curved to alight on the rounded black track. Framing the black ring is a second metallic ring with indented dots to indicate the minutes. The studded minutes ring picks up on the indented dots of the annular balance, which rotates back and forth at the base of the movement. The deep well created by the pronounced dip of the hours ring draws the eye in towards the vertical gear train. The movement for the hours and minutes, JLC calibre 570, is decorated with brushed surfaces, bevelled and polished edges and Côtes de Genève stripes.
No price has been provided as yet for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos Infinite. For more information, please visit Jaeger-LeCoultre.com.