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Anybody Know Anything About Atmos Clocks?

  1. gbesq Oct 10, 2020

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    This was recently given to me as the family watch enthusiast from the estate of a deceased relative. As I’m a watch guy and not a clock guy, I know very little about these clocks other than that they are still made by Jaeger-LeCoultre. As best I can estimate from what I know about the deceased, this was probably acquired in the 1950s. It is in poor shape and doesn’t work. At a minimum, it would need to be rebrassed and have a full mechanical service. I can’t imagine what JLC would charge to service this - if they would even touch it. Worth fixing or do I have an impressive looking paperweight here? Any insights/info that anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks.
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  2. Fritz genuflects before the mighty quartzophobe Oct 10, 2020

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    There’s a lever somewhere around the base of it that locks the pendulum in place prior to moving the clock. I understand that it is very bad to move these things without that lock on as the fairly heavy rotary pendulum is suspended by a fine wire.

    there are specialists who work on these things and many of the critical parts are readily available if needed. The whole thing is powered by changes in the barometric pressure so there’s a large metal bellows inside. I had a friend who rebuilt one of these and he showed me the new bellows before he installed it, quite the cool piece of engineering.

    i’ll see if I can find the name of a service center I was saw advertised in a clock reference guide.

    were it mine I get it serviced and cleaned and enjoy it. Once set up and running right they’re quite accurate and reliable.
     
  3. gbesq Oct 10, 2020

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    Thanks. Just located the serial number and I was off by a decade. It was manufactured in the 1940s.
     
  4. DaveK Yoda of Yodelers Oct 10, 2020

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  5. gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator Staff Member Oct 10, 2020

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    Jaeger-LeCoultre will service these, but as you might guess, it’s incredibly expensive. The cases were plated in 24K gold, also very expensive. You are looking at several times the value to get it running again.

    The original Atmos clocks of the 1920’s were powered by mercury and barometric pressure. Once the dangers of mercury were better understood, they switched to a temperature driven system powered by ethyl chloride, which boils at room temperature.

    There is a simple formula for dating Atmos clocks made in 1954 or later. Take the serial number and divide it by 20,000. Add that to 1954, and you should be within a year or two. Your clock is right around 1954, maybe 1955.

    Here is the go to person for Atmos in the USA.

    http://www.atmosman.com/atmos.html

    There is just a wealth of information on his site.

    Good luck with the project.
    gatorcpa
     
  6. gbesq Oct 10, 2020

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    Thanks, gatorcpa. I guess that I have nothing to lose by seeking an estimate. No question that it would be a beautiful family heirloom once restored.
     
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  7. gatorcpa ΩF InvestiGator Staff Member Oct 10, 2020

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  8. STANDY schizophrenic pizza orderer and watch collector Oct 10, 2020

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  9. gbesq Oct 10, 2020

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  10. Evitzee Oct 10, 2020

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    I've had my ca 1962 Atmos overhauled by Mike Murray (atmosman) twice in the last twenty years. He does excellent work at fair prices ($500 last time for complete overhaul, no parts needed and still running on the original bellows), but his turnaround time is very, very long. First time was 20 months, last one completed in 2019 was 28 months. Keep that in mind.

    JLC will work on them but their pricing is insane.
     
    Edited Oct 10, 2020
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  11. gbesq Oct 10, 2020

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    Oh, so it’s like sending your Patek in for factory service, just way cheaper? :)
     
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  12. Evitzee Oct 10, 2020

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    Exactly. But the overhaul now comes with a five year warranty. A clock with a bad bellows can be fully wound by the repairer and it will run close to a year before it stops, atmosman's five year warranty ensures the bellows is functioning.
     
    Edited Oct 10, 2020
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  13. asrnj77 Oct 10, 2020

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    Definitely wouldn’t go to JLC. I had mine done by an independent watchmaker and it took forever but came out well. The main issue was finding the parts but it all worked out. I haven’t used this place but I’d reach out to them prior to JLC..

    http://www.atmosclocks.com/
     
  14. Evitzee Oct 10, 2020

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    Worth investigating. But the key factor is, does he have a parts account with JLC? Just like Omega, JLC has cut off many independent repairers from factory parts from 2005, so there are fewer and fewer repairers that have access to the parts. The goal is to drive repairs to the very high priced JLC factory service.
     
    Edited Oct 10, 2020
  15. Sherbie Oct 20, 2020

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    There is also Chapell Jordan in Houston
    http://cjclocks.com/
    i think the owner also shows up from time to time on usa version of the antiques roadshow

    they are experts in these and can service this. I just had a 1962 Atmos ( looks to be the same version as yours, with LeCoutre on the dial for the US market) done for about 750$ ( it also had issues with the locking arm)

    good for another 20 years or so now

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  16. Foo2rama Keeps his worms in a ball instead of a can. Oct 20, 2020

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    Awesome gift. As noted there are 2 or 3 good specialists in the US. Look at their websites and talk to them to see who you feel the most comfortable with.
     
  17. Evitzee Oct 20, 2020

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    Back in the early 60's the retail cost of an Atmos was $125 (about $1,100 in 2020), and companies bought them for a lot less so they were an affordable gift to give for long service time or retirement. Now an Atmos costs $6,950 and the mechanisms aren't as good or as robust.
     
  18. Wryfox Jan 22, 2021

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    I cannot recommend atmosman(Mike Murray) enough, the master of Atmos in the USA. He spent an hour on the phone walking me through a problem I had with another "Atmos expert" after my clock was returned in bad order and he nailed the problem exactly. I adjusted it myself with his help and now it is running 1/4 sec/day. For him to spend whatever time was required, and for free to someone he doesn't know, to fix a problem speaks volumes.
     
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  19. Rado63 Feb 13, 2021

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    Maybe talk to all the Atmos clock independent repair shops and get your estimates. If I owned this clock, I might consider just repairing the movement make it run accurately and leave the casing as it is. Unless repairing the case to new isn't too expensive and you want it to look like new then go for the complete restoration of course.
     
  20. carmartino Feb 18, 2021

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