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Atmos 568 by Marc Newson

Time, pure and simple

The Watch Quote™ - October 20th, 2016



This is the story of a fascinating and mutually rewarding collaboration. Since 2008, Jaeger-LeCoultre and designer Marc Newson have been teaming up to pool their expertise and spark off each other’s creative energy, working together on a new and unique interpretation of the iconic Atmos. This year the designer once again applied his imagination to this clock that lives on air, rendering it in a contemporary spirit that stays true to its intrinsic identity. His work with the Grande Maison has given rise to an exceptional object of startling purity that draws breath under a Baccarat crystal globe.




Where design, technical virtuosity, and tradition come together

Take, on the one hand, this highly-acclaimed yet understated designer, creator of coveted objects. On the other hand, take a legendary clock. It is totally silent – its energy drawn from barely perceptible variations in temperature – and driven by a mechanism that would have fascinated all those down the ages, like Leonardo da Vinci, who dreamed of a perpetual motion machine. In this latest joint effort, the outer form of the Atmos – and some of its components – has been reworked by the talented designer. He pares it back to a crystal globe of sheer transparency to accentuate its essence and iconic status.



Marc Newson explains his affinity with this clock: “I was thrilled to have been asked to design an Atmos because it is a timepiece that I have loved since I first saw one when I was in my early teens. An Atmos for me is a complex and magical object, it seemingly runs on perpetual motion or the closest thing to it and it needs a constant environment to function in. It is as if it is a living thing – you have the feeling that it can sense your presence – which I find strangely comforting.”




The simplicity of a pared-back movement

It is all lightness, transparency, and simplicity. At first glance, what draws the eye in Marc Newson’s Atmos 568 is its timekeeping mechanism, which appears to float freely in the air, while actually being held in place by the rear part of the movement.



Its very simple dial is optimised for easy legibility. Although light passes right through the clear glass face, it is simple to read thanks to blue transferred Arabic numerals that always face outwards and are underscored by a minute circle. To avoid adding further elements, the marker indicating the month has been designed to form part of the transparent dial. The counterweights are painstakingly designed to melt from sight, while perfectly balancing the hands picked out in a harmonious echo of Marc Newson’s chosen blue. Uniquely for an Atmos, the entire cycle of moon phases is shown – with a white moon and a blue sky – on a very smoothly finished disc embellished with concentric striations.



On the movement’s reverse, the mechanism is visibly held in place at four points, rather than the three on traditional Atmos clocks, to create symmetry. The membrane bridge, redesigned in a cross-shape and with a brushed finish, showcases the membrane’s bellows to great effect. It bears the clock’s name in the chosen shade of blue, along with the designer’s discreet signature in his trademark orange.



Closer inspection reveals a continuous play of light on the movement, which was devised by Manufacture artisans and had some of its components redesigned by Marc Newson. It is worked in a very contemporary-looking matte satin-brushed finish, with a number of shiny areas that are thrown into brilliant relief by the light streaming through the crystal. A brand new design for the balance wheel features grooves with matte tooth surfaces and shiny hollows, so that as it rotates back and forth, it creates a beautiful pattern of remarkable subtlety reflecting the sun’s rays. A true show of craftsmanship! Another mobile part of the movement, the membrane, is adorned with the same play of contrasting finishes, shiny depths set off by a matte exterior.




A showcase of light

As soon as you manage to tear your eyes away from the movement, you are struck by the sophisticated elegance and sheer immateriality of the cabinet that houses it. Newson chose crystal – loved by the designer for its aesthetic qualities and unique finish – as the material for this globe that resembles a rounded cube. Only a glassworks operating at the cutting edge of crystal manufacturing, like Baccarat, had the necessary technical expertise, and lengthy research was needed to reduce the crystal thickness to a minimum – a mere 13 mm in some places.

The crystal cabinet allows light to stream over the clock it encases, while also creating its own subtle play of reflections in a real visual treat. Although not easy to smooth and even, this crystal has a remarkably beautiful finish. The fine contours of the globe, along with its thicker base, have been perfectly crafted by Baccarat artisans to give a fluid and harmonious effect, like a cushion of light.

A thicker base makes the clock very stable and can hold the mobile glass wall that gives access to the movement. The clock is magnified inside its crystal cabinet, a bit like a ship in a bottle.




Journey to the limits of a clock

Intrigued by the extreme transparency of the Atmos, your eyes shift with curiosity to its side, where they are transfixed by a tangle of gear trains. All the mystery of this clock lies open to your gaze. Invented in 1928, it runs independently of any human intervention, thanks to a gaseous mixture in a hermetically sealed capsule, which expands when the temperature rises and contracts when it falls. The capsule is connected to the clock’s drive spring, and as it swells like the bellows of an accordion, it constantly winds the clock movement. A temperature fluctuation of a single

degree is enough to provide the clock with an operating autonomy of about two days. The gear trains are so perfectly designed that they require no oil, which would interfere with the optimum running of the clock.

The combined talents of Marc Newson and the artisans of Jaeger-LeCoultre have yielded this timeless design – a clock that seems to defy time altogether. With its limpid beauty and delicate simplicity, the Atmos 568 by Marc Newson offers a showcase for time to glide by in utter tranquillity.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos 568 by Marc Newson
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Making of

Making of




















Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos 568 by Marc Newson

Technical specifications




Movement :Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 568
Mechanical, virtually perpetual
Manufactured and assembled by hand
Parts :211
Balance wheel :Annular
Oscillation period :60 seconds
Functions :Hour, minute, month
Perpetual moon-phase indication (1 day's discrepancy every 3861 years)
Dial :Glass with blue transferred numerals
Hands :Two-tone blue hands (indication of time) and brushed stainless steel (counterweight)
Cabinet :Glass monobloc by Australian designer Marc Newson
Reference :Q5165107



  1. Your first collaboration with Jaeger-LeCoultre was in 2008 when you designed the Atmos 561. How did you find it?
    I was thrilled to have been asked to design an Atmos because it is a timepiece that I have loved since I saw my first one when I was in my early teens. I have had the most fulfilling experience designing for Jaeger-LeCoultre and especially designing an object that I have always had such respect for.

  2. What was it about the Atmos clock that so appealed to you that you offered a new design for it?
    An Atmos for me is a complex and magical object, it seemingly runs on perpetual motion or the closest thing to it and it needs a constant environment to function in. It is as if it is a living thing – you have the feeling that it can sense your presence – which I find strangely comforting. I like the fact that the Atmos is completely anachronistic: it is as up-to-date now as it ever was, and no-one has been able to improve or modify its essential technical features. I love the way a company like Jaeger-LeCoultre continues to champion such an object.

  3. How was it to work on a clock compared to any other object?
    My approach to everything I design is always the same – in that I see the brief as a problem – a design puzzle let’s say, that I have to solve with imagination, understanding and innovation. This goes for everything I design – from a car to a chair. But one thing I do know in terms of design is that I try to design objects that you can form a bond with and that you can keep with you for the rest of your life that you will never want to replace. They will be repaired and continue to work and be current and classic. The Atmos falls perfectly into that philosophy. It ensures perfect sustainability on a philosophical level, whereas today, it is almost taken for granted that digital objects are somehow disposable. An Atmos is the antithesis of that – it will never end up as landfill.


    Atmos 568 by Marc Newson

  4. Was there anything in particular you wanted to express in this new design? And how is it different from your previous design?
    Good design has always been about creating objects that have stood the test of time...that don’t date...that have a sense of quality and timelessness. This has not changed – especially as now it feels like we live in a disposable age. With objects like the Atmos, they are not disposable but valuable, they are objects that people will form unique emotional connections with and will become part of their lives. Products made by Jaeger-LeCoultre easily pass this test, creating value and history that will be cherished by generations to come.

    The new Atmos is a product which is I hope is both modern but communicates the values of Jaeger-LeCoultre. It is very important for me to respect and integrate the DNA associated with the brand I am working with, this needs to come through in the design. It is not about re-inventing the wheel but respecting the DNA of the brand. There had to be a certain character, something about the new Atmos to make it different, to appeal to a new audience.

  5. How would you describe the creative process you followed to make the new Atmos?
    For this new Atmos, most of the visible pieces have been re-designed, the hands, dials, increments, the case, the counterbalance, the base and the structure of the movement and its interface with the glass. The design features three feet (like the 566) giving the Atmos a robust stance and stability, whilst also acting as a support to the front door, which is fully removable, giving access to adjust the movement.

    The shape and the optical clarity thanks to the transparent cabinet really accentuate and showcase the movement. The end result is an intriguing and almost magical object, not unlike a ship in a bottle.

    Why glass? Because it is a beautiful and noble material.

  6. What was the biggest challenge?
    I felt very comfortable thinking about what I could do with the Atmos, since I knew it so well. I asked myself: to what extent could I express myself within that object? And that, in fact, was the real challenge. The movement already exists, and the fundamental mechanics cannot be modified.

    Despite the careful consideration for designing the interior elements, the “wow factor” of this clock is the Baccarat crystal case with its rounded cube shape. However the case was extremely complex to fabricate, there was an enormous amount of work and development required to perfect the shape.


    Other

  7. What does ‘Design’ mean for you?
    Good design is ...you just know it when you see it. It is about creating objects that don’t date. It is about a problem solved with intelligence, understanding and with the exploration of materials and science. Good design is all about knowing when to stop....

  8. How would you describe your relationship with time?
    Well – I never have enough of it that’s for sure...
    But I think the passing or the measuring of time has always held a fascination for me. A timepiece seemed to be a magical object - holding the whole universe in its sphere.

  9. When is your favorite time to design?
    I think I am always designing – in my head – I hardly ever switch off...I take my sketch book with me wherever I go. Probably the most effective time is when I am in a completely quiet environment where no-one can reach me. 40,000 feet up in the air in an aircraft cabin is usually a productive environment..

Marc Newson Biography



Marc Newson has been described as one of the most influential designers of his generation. He has worked across a wide range of disciplines, creating everything from furniture and household objects to bicycles and cars, private and commercial aircraft, yachts, various architectural commissions, and signature sculptural pieces for clients across the globe.

Born in Sydney, Newson spent much of his childhood travelling in Europe and Asia. He started experimenting with furniture design as a student and, after graduation, was awarded a grant from the Australian Crafts Council with which he staged his first exhibition - featuring the Lockheed Lounge – a piece that has now, twenty years later, set three consecutive world records at auction.

Newson has lived and worked in Tokyo, Paris, and London where he is now based, and he continues to travel widely. His clients include a broad range of the best known and most prestigious brands in the world - from manufacturing and technology to transportation, fashion and the luxury goods sector. Many of his designs have achieved the status of modern design icons. In addition to his core business, he has also founded and run a number of successful companies, including a fine watch brand and an aerospace design consultancy, and holds senior management positions at client companies; including currently being a Brand Ambassador for Qantas Airways and Designer for Special Projects at Apple.

Marc Newson was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and has received numerous awards and distinctions. He was appointed The Royal Designer for Industry in the UK, received an honorary doctorate from Sydney University, holds Adjunct Professorships at Sydney College of the Arts and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and was created CBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.

His work is present in many major museum collections, including the MoMA in New York, London’s Design Museum and V&A, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Vitra Design Museum.

He is married with two children.

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