Wixon Jewelers in Minneapolis, MN

Every Breath It Takes

A true marvel of engineering, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Atmos clock is solely powered by minute variations in atmospheric temperature.

The Atmos clock has graced the homes and offices of some of the world’s most extraordinary people. Considered to be a Swiss national treasure of sorts, Atmos clocks have been given as gifts by the Swiss Confederation to visiting dignitaries and Heads of State for over a half century. Sir Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and King Hussein of Jordan are only the beginning of the acclaimed list of privileged Atmos owners.

In 1928 a French engineer named Jean-Leon Reutter constructed a clock that was driven quite literally by air. This amazing concept captured the attention of Jaeger-LeCoultre, and after extensive development, Jaeger-LeCoultre perfected and patented the perpetual motion Atmos clock. Its unique design and complex operating system produced by one of the finest Swiss watchmaking companies in the world are what make it a gift of such distinction.


Inside the clock is a sealed capsule filled with ethyl chloride gas. The mixture of gas and liquid expands as the temperature rises and contracts as it falls, moving the capsule back and forth like a little accordion. This motion is used to constantly wind the mainspring, enabling the clock to run and keep perfect time. In order to conserve energy, the huge balance swings only twice per minute. The balance is suspended from an Elinvar wire (Elinvar is a nickel-steel alloy that doesn’t react to temperature changes like steel would). A small temperature variation of just one degree is sufficient for over two days of operation. Such variation occurs naturally in normal room temperature. Thus, without any additional sources of energy, the Atmos clock will continue to run “forever.”

See the full issue of The Wixon Experience 2019 | Volume 7

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