For all the time-telling pieces on hand during Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH), nothing comes close to independent Swiss watch brand URWERK‘s 55-pound desk clock, the AMC (Atomic Master Clock). This portable atomic clock cradles its partner—a mechanical wristwatch—which it then pairs with, adjusts, winds and regulates the balance rate (taking into account humidity and air pressure). The utmost accuracy, of course, is the goal.
URWERK co-founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei have spent almost a decade developing the technology—unveiling portions and pieces throughout 2018, as well as a working iteration at Art Basel Miami Beach and SIHH. Witnessing it first-hand offers a deeper understanding of chronometry—with indications visible for the thousandth seconds, seconds, minutes, hours, day, month and year.
Further, one sees the depth of the partnership after docking the watch, or “mobile unit” (as it is known) into the aluminum base unit, or “Atomolith.” The watch only displays hours, minutes and seconds but the AMC calibre—designed and manufactured by URWERK—beating inside the timepiece is certainly aligned with its guide. Alone, it has an 80-hour power reserve. Not to mention magnificent finishing that includes sandblasting, chamfered screw-heads, an open-work baseplate, and Geneva stripes.
As HODINKEE points out, the technology may be cutting-edge (and surprisingly artistic) but the concept is centuries old. Abraham Louis Breguet developed a “Sympathique clock” based upon a high-precision pendulum, upon which a pocket watch could nest and align during the night. This happened back in 1795. The AMC is very different, using both a GPS and the vibrations of two ions to tell and maintain the time. The error margin is one second in 317 years. A mechanical oscillator within the wristwatch absorbs this information and implements it. Altogether, it’s nothing short of ingenious.
Images courtesy of URWERK