Drawing breath quietly under a Baccarat crystal globe, the new Atmos 568 clock looks the epitome of lightness and simplicity. But there’s nothing simple about Jaeger-LeCoultre’s latest timekeeping mechanism, mainly because it’s designed by the exceptional Marc Newson.
The renowned designer isn’t new to this partnership; he’s worked with the Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer since 2008, releasing a number of collaborative Atmos clocks which are equal parts ethereal and technical. His latest creation tells the time, month and displays the current phase of the moon. Pretty basic features of a table clock, except its Caliber 568 movement — technically similar to its predecessor, Atmos 561 — is suspended within an immense Baccarat crystal case. Unlike the 561, the dial is now replaced by a transparent glass ring with electric blue numerals, dashes and dots for time indication. Nestled within are indicators for the months and at the six o’clock position, a moon phase indicator in the same bold hue.
This Atmos clock works the same way, and while it isn’t new technology (it’s been around since 1928), it’s quite ingenious. At the back is a hermetically sealed capsule that’s filled with a gaseous mixture of ethyl chloride. The temperature-sensitive gas expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations. This causes the capsule to press on the accordion-like bellows system, which winds the clock’s mainspring. A single degree in temperature change generates power for two days, so the clock is — or so Jaeger LeCoultre claims — “virtually perpetual”.
A torsion pendulum keeps the time; a full cycle of one swing to the left and one to the right each minute. Extremely slow, but this means very little energy is expended, a secret to the clock’s ability to function on nothing but slight temperature changes.The only thing that could interfere with the clock’s accuracy is air friction and contact between the escapement and balance, but that’s minimised with the perfectly designed gear trains, which doesn’t require oil.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos 568 isn’t a timepiece that blends into the rest of a room and ticks away unassumingly. Its refreshingly modern facade and simple design concept is a lesson on how sometimes, less really is more. If you’re sold, you’d be happy to know that the Atmos 568 isn’t limited edition like its previous iterations, but it will be a US$28,000 (S$39,700) centrepiece.