Marc Newson Floats His Third Atmos Clock
New York Times, January 17, 2017
GENEVA — Ask watch fans to name a wristwatch model and the responses could include the Nautilus by Patek Philippe, the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet or the Tank by Cartier.
In the realm of clocks, however, there is but one boldfaced name: the Atmos by Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Invented in 1928 by the Swiss engineer Jean-Léon Reutter, the Art Deco pendulum clock is an elegant nod to a bygone era. It is also a sleek piece of modern design, thanks to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s bold approach to collaboration.
Since 2008, the Swiss brand has teamed with the celebrated industrial designer Marc Newson on three editions of the Atmos. The latest of these, the Atmos 568, is making its debut this week at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva.
Housed in a rounded cube of clear Baccarat crystal and with a transparent dial, the clock, which retails for $28,000, is an ode to simplicity. Blue transferred Arabic numerals and blued hands are the only concessions to color.
The timekeeping mechanism looks as if it is floating inside the crystal, but actually is secured to the back of the clock, where Mr. Newson’s signature appears in his trademark orange.
“I have always been fascinated by watches,” Mr. Newson recalled in an email. “Back in my grandfather’s garage in Sydney, I once found a piece of blue plexiglass, carved it into a funny massive rectangular shape and bored a big perfect cylindrical hole through it with a power tool. Then I inserted a movement that I had taken from a watch my uncle had given me, and screwed the thick plexiglass face down with four big wood screws. That was my first watch … aged 12.”
Since then, Mr. Newson, now 53, has designed many timepieces, including several boundary-breaking watches for Ikepod, the brand he co-founded in 1994. Recently, his work on the Apple Watch drew acclaim among smartwatch fans (and scorn from some traditionalists).
On this last point, however, Mr. Newson is defiant — and a touch vague: “On a daily basis, I wear the Apple Watch,” he said. “But I own various favorite watches.”