When I thought about starting this blog I didn’t imagine I would be writing about watches with batteries; I assumed “enthusiasts watches” would be mechanical. Well surprise there is a new exciting series of atomic watches from Hoptroff watches.
The London-based manufacturer of extraordinary watch movements, on May 7th announced a quantum leap in luxury timepiece for connoisseurs. The Hoptroff No. 10 movement, which is destined for the world’s first atomic-powered pocket watch has started ticking for the first time. The result is a safe way to tell the time which is more accurate than any luxury mechanical or quartz watch ever produced.
Containing a highly accurate atomic clock, this first-of-a-kind thoroughly modern timepiece is not to be confused with radio-receiving watches, which have existed for decades. The No.10 actually 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.
The No.10 watch 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 Richard Hoptroff, managing director of Hoptroff Ltd, “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, who 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,” added Richard Hoptroff, managing director of Hoptroff, “and it delights me that it was achieved right here in London, not Le Locle or Tokyo.”
The watch will have a formidable number of complications. The front dial 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. “Up to this point,” says Hoptroff, “we’ve 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.
I will continue to monitor Hoptroff, watch this blog for news.