Hermès joined forces with watch and clockmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cristalleries de Saint-Louis for a supreme demonstration of art, craftsmanship and engineering: the 176-piece limited edition “Atmos” crystal clock.
The result of the collaborative effort of Hermès, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Les Cristalleries de St. Louis, the Atmos clock is a striking demonstration of the fact that time is a true ally: one that has enabled the three Houses to combine their expertise in order to create this 176-piece limited edition crystal clock that quite literally lives on air. Transparency rubs shoulders with opalescence, glass meets metal, artistic craftsmanship combines the uncompromising nature of metal with the fragile vulnerability of crystal: such are the defining characteristics of the Atmos Hermès table clock. By giving substance to an immaterial reality, it forges a strong bond between humankind, its environment and an eternally intriguing principle: that of time.
The astonishing crystal sphere thus houses a unique, almost perpetually moving mechanism developed by the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre. Since 1928, the mechanism of the Atmos clock fascinates by its exceptional mode of operation with no battery, no electric current and no winding. It lives on air by means of an ingenious principle: a 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. It is so sensitive that a one-degree temperature difference is enough to power it for 48 hours. Its balance oscillates just twice a minute rather than the average 300 times of a classic wristwatch, which consumes 250 times more energy than an Atmos clock. The 190 parts that compose this clever construction are precision-assembled within the Manufacture.
First of all, the glassblower uses his blowpipe or gathering iron to collect the molten white enamel and fashions it so as to create a ball known as a gather; he then blows short puffs of air into this mass, all the while regularly heating it; before working it further using a mailloche or shaping block, a ladle-like wooden tool used to shape the glass into a glass bubble or parison. This first stage of production is rendered even more difficult by the opacity of the material that prevents the artisan from seeing the various layers of the enamel. In parallel, four master glassmakers prepare a lightcoloured glass mass using the shaping block and heat it to give it a spherical shape.
Then comes the overlay operation: the glassmaker uses the tip of his blowpipe to detach the white enamel parison, into which another master glassmaker pours the light-coloured glass. The two layered materials are then worked together and placed in a mould that is then blown to form a sphere measuring around 30 centimetres in diameter. The latter is placed in an annealing oven that serves to progressively cool it down in order to avoid the glass shattering. Once cooled down, the sphere that now weighs around ten kilos is perforated in the spot where the mechanism will be inserted. After this, using previously drawn markings, it is cut so as to reveal transparent pearl-like beads, and then polished to create subtle light effects.
It is thus within this subtle blend of opalescence and transparency that the clock mechanism is fitted, thereby composing a rare object which represents the quintessence of the craftsmanship spirit. For while the Atmos clock counts off the minutes and hours, it represents, first and foremost, the time dedicated by the artisans: years of apprenticeship and patiently acquired expertise, the time required for the mastery of each of these remarkable and singular skills.
Shape/dimensions: Sphere, 276 x 276 x 272 mm
Material: Transparent crystal globe from Les Cristalleries de Saint-Louis, lined with white enamel
Rhodiumed 172 mm-diameter base
Weight: 10 kg (+/- 1 kg)
Glass: Extra-white mineral glass with black silkscreen printing
Hands Black dauphine type
Type: Mechanical almost perpetual winding thanks to temperature fluctuations
Jewelling: 15 jewels
Balance: Annular balance
Frequency: 1 vibration per minute
Decoration: Satin-brushed rhodiumed/polished
Functions: Hours, minutes