The Atmos clock from Jaeger-LeCoultre is arguably the most celebrated line of desk-adorning horology of the past 100 years or so. It took three of the world’s most prestigious Houses to come together in order to create this stunning new collaboration: the Atmos Hermès clock. Created in collaboration between Hermès, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Les Cristalleries de St. Louis, this limited-edition clock is a convergence of transparency, opalescence, crystal, glass, metal and, above all, artistic craftsmanship.
The Atmos mechanism operates without any winding, and certainly no battery. At the heart of this spherical crystal clock is a perpetual movement Atmos mechanism developed by the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre. In fact, the clock is powered by an hermetically sealed capsule containing a mixture of gases that expands when the temperature rises and contracts when it drops. Connected to the mainspring of the clock, the capsule acts like a concertina or a pair of bellows, thereby constantly winding the mechanism. The balance wheel beats just twice per minute, instead of the few hundred you’ll find in a wristwatch’s movement. But, that’s just how your average Atmos clock works, we haven’t gotten to what makes this particular clock so special.
Jaeger and Hermés actually have a lengthy history working together, dating all the back to the 20s when JLC supplied movements to the first Hermés timepieces. JLC watches were also sold in the Hermés flagship in Paris for years, and there were many co-branded 8 day clocks produced in the 30s and 40s (like this and this). But, since Hermés went out on its own to make its very own timepieces in the late 1970s, and just last year produced its very first watch with its own proprietary movement (which we showed you first here), the relationship with JLC was put to the backseat. Until now.
In order to create the crystal sphere exterior, Hermès worked with the glassmakers at Les Cristalleries de Saint-Louis, who used a doublé (double overlay) technique to coat layers of glass over each other, including a coloured one. This complicated technique requires that the glassblower use his blowpipe or gathering iron to collect the molten white enamel and fashion it so as to create a ball known as a gather. The artisan then blows short puffs of air into this mass, all the while regularly heating it, before shaping it into a glass bubble (parison). Meanwhile, four master glassmakers prepared a light-coloured glass mass using a shaping block and heat it to give it a spherical shape. Then comes the overlay operation: the glassmaker detaches the white enamel parison while another glassmaker pours the light-coloured glass. The two materials are worked together, placed in a mould which is blown to form a sphere, then placed in an annealing oven to allow the creation to cool down without shattering. Once completed, the mechanism is inserted into the perforated sphere, which weighs around ten kilos. The air-blown dome is cut to reveal transparent pearl-like beads, and then polished to create subtle light effects. The entire dome is lined with white enamel.
The final result is just stunning. The 276 x 276 x 272 mm clock weights over 10kg and the dotted exterior allows for viewing of the incredible JLC caliber 560a Atmos movement. Priced at 30,000 euro in a limited edition of 176 pieces (one for each year Hermés has been around), these will go very quickly. Hermés signed timekeepers have a massive following, as does the Atmos line in general, and this collaboration is just what collectors have been waiting for.