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Atmos 561 Clock Powered Solely by Temperature Changes

by Karen M.

The Atmos 561 mechanical clock, designed by Marc Newson, is powered by changes in the temperature, so you never need to wind it up. Oh, and also, it’s encased in a big block of crystal.

This design marks the 80th anniversary of Atmos clocks by the Swiss maker Jaeger LeCoultre (try spelling that 10 times really fast!) Now bear with me while I explain how it works, because it’s a little science-y. The power source is a capsule that contains gas and ethyl chloride. When the temperature rises, the gas/chloride mix expands and compresses a spiral spring, whereas when the temperature falls, the gas condenses and loosens up the spring. Somehow that equals a constant winding of the clock, so no human intervention is necessary.


The original Atmos clocks also relied on this temperature change-o presto gimmick, but using different variations on the chemical reaction (like the one shown below, which showcases a rather unfortunately placed cable.)

For the Atmos 561, you only need a change of 1 degree Celsius to get 2 days worth of winding power. Ergo, I’d like to do an experiment where I move it from fireplace to freezer a bunch of times and see if I can get it wound so tightly it explodes. Is that so wrong?

[via The Watchismo Times]




Comments (3):

  1. technabob says:

    Science-y indeed. But what happens if you live in Southern California, where it’s always 68 and sunny?

  2. sig says:

    cool story, it’s been added to http://gearcult.com

  3. Brian says:

    It is really nice to see the mechanical workings of the clock. I really like it, not only on clocks, also on everything which works with technik like a telephone.
    And to your story, I found very funny, i`m smiling.

    Atmos Clocks

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