Hoptroff, the London-based manufacturer of watch movements, has announced what it described as “a quantum leap in luxury timepieces for connoisseurs” – a movement which is destined for the world’s first atomic-powered pocket watch.
Containing a highly accurate atomic clock, this first-of-a-kind timepiece contains a caesium gas chamber inside a temperature controlled oven, a laser to excite the atoms and a microwave resonator to measure their atomic transitions in order to measure time.
Called the No.10 watch, it has a self-contained accuracy of one and a half seconds per thousand years. “It would be nice to strive for even greater accuracy,” said managing director Richard Hoptroff, “but relativistic effects start to kick in and time becomes subjective – in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.”
The atomic physics package is supplied by Symmetricom, which originally developed it in collaboration with the US Department of Defense for use in cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles where it is needed to continue navigating in the presence of GPS radio jamming.
“As far as we know it is the first time an atomic time source has been used in a pocket watch movement and it delights me that it was achieved right here in London, not Le Locle or Tokyo,” Hoptroff said.
The watch will have a formidable number of complications. The front dial (pictured) is designed for marine navigation. With the aid only of a sextant, it can determine longitude to within a nautical mile, even after years at sea. The rear face is still under development.
The company has been developing the movement secretly under the codename Atom Heart Mother, after the Pink Floyd album.
Measuring 82mm in diameter and 25mm thick, the watch is expected to be completed later this year. Only twelve examples are due to be manufactured initially, costing “well into five figures”. Customers will also be subject to security clearances due to the nature of the device.
This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.