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The Atmos Mystérieuse
The Incredible Million Dollar Atmos Clock
 


 

THE MOST COMPLICATED ATMOS
 
To celebrate the Atmos' 75th anniversary in 2003, Jaeger Le-Coultre management decided to create a very special Atmos. However the watchmakers in the Atmos department explained that the clock was already completely developed; there was nothing more to improve. The directors suggested an Atmos Mystérieuse with invisible motor and invisible power source, but the idea wasn't feasible because the clock would require far too much energy. Once again, as has been the case so many times before in the colorful history of this astonishing clock, watchmakers were urged to accomplish the impossible - and do it sooner rather than later. It's a testimony to the power of an idea and to the culture of the Manufacture in Le Sentier that the engineers accomplished the mission. In this case, the path led past "genius in residence" Eric Coudray, a master watchmaker. To midwife the concept of the Atmos Mystérieuse into three-dimensional ticking reality, he decided to conceal only the motor and the mainspring; the very 'airy' clockwork and its rotating pendulum were arranged behind the hands. The clock stands atop four cylindrical pillars made of quartz crystal. Because of frictional losses in the conveyance of energy, the motor in the base winds five conventional, serially switched, Atmos barrels. The transfer of energy to the clockwork occurs via a rotating glass staff, which is invisibly inserted into one of the pillars. This staff powers a glass disk situated behind the plane of the dial. The periphery of the disk bears a wreath of teeth made of gold plated brass. The glass disk completes one slow rotation around its own axis every 130 days. Attached to the disk's center is a ring-shaped gear, which engages with the clockwork.
 
The gear train consists of eight wheels leading to the escape wheel. To ensure this timekeeping objet d'art runs accurately, Coudray built into the movement a device to ensure the regularity of the winding. This mechanism guarantees that energy is continuously and unvaryingly conveyed to the escapement-wheel and thus to the balance, regardless of how taut or slack the mainspring may be. Invented in the 19th century and primarily used in tower clocks, this device for regularity of winding consists of an intermediate energy reservoir in which a weight affixed to a longer lever sinks stepwise, thereby conveying energy to the escapement via the fourth wheel. During this interval, the flow of energy coming from the barrel is interrupted. Every five minutes, however, all of the wheels leading from the barrel to the intermediate reservoir begin to turn, thereby raising the weight in the regularity-of winding mechanism.
 
The jubilee edition of the Atmos Mystérieuse has a regulator dial. In part because the clock's materials include 12 kilograms of gold, plenty of onyx, and diamonds weighing a total of 60 carats, this timepiece sells for around Euro 1.5 million. In a limited series of 25 pieces, fine leather replaces the onyx, mother-of-pearl takes the place of the diamonds, and gold-plated is used instead of solid gold. Thanks to the use of somewhat less costly materials, these models convey all the magic of the magnificent Mystérieuse technology, yet sell for one-tenth the price of the jubilee edition.

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