Katherine S. Cunanan

Peer Into The Atmos-phere

The Atmos Transparente clock lets you see through the glass and into the workings of the clock.

The atmosphere is defined as the gaseous envelope of a celestial body, or the whole mass of air surrounding the Earth. Thanks to creativity and ingenuity, we can add, “power source” to the list of definitions.

A wonderful engineer invented a simple mechanism in 1928 that allows to a clock to run on air. Yes, air. No battery, no hand-winding. Just air. The atmosphere. That man was Jean-Léon Reutter and the clock was the Atmos Transparente by Jaeger-LeCoultre.


Perhaps to prove that there was no hidden battery or secret power source, the clock case was built to be nearly transparent. You could look at it from all angles as it sits atop your desk or table. No whatever what your vantage point was, you’d soon stop looking for a hidden battery and instead marvel at the Art Deco embellished dial. The hands and hour markers are minimalistic, but they seem to complement the beautiful dial without overwhelming it.

But how does this mechanism work? As Jaeger-LeCoultre says, “the Atmos clock lives on air. Always as constant, always as accurate.” The Atmos clock runs on air and any variation in temperature of the room will give the clock power to run for two days. There is a capsule inside the Atmos clock that is filled with ethylene chloride gas. As the ambient temperature changes, the gas expands or contracts, making the capsule also expand or contract. The capsule is attached to a chain. With each movement, no matter how minimal, the chain winds the mainspring. The glass case allows you to see the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 563 in motion. The case is actually treated with an anti-reflective coating for your viewing pleasure.


A New View
The Atmos Transparente dial is a beauty to behold. The glass dial is exquisite, and the hour markers are easy to spot but beautifully designed in their simplicity. The circling hands mark the passing hours and minutes. The entire aesthetic is at once complex and simple. There are several shapes on the dial – straight lines, simple circles, a rectangle – but Jaeger-LeCoultre has designed this so meticulously that all aspects work together.

The Atmos Transparente has a mechanical movement, the JLC Calibre 563, manufactured and assembled by hand. It has the hours and minutes, and really, that’s all you need. You’ll be so entranced watching this amazing timepiece work, you won’t think about the seconds or the date or anything else. This is the perfect timepiece for your office of home, and it will definitely be a conversation starter. Jaeger-LeCoultre knows time and how to make it impressive.


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