Hoptroff No 10 is world's first atomic pocket watch movement

If you have at least £10,000 spare and don't mind wearing radioactive matter about your person, this could be the timepiece for you.

"Oh, your watch is beautiful! Is it...?" "Atomic," you'll be able to say very soon, if you have a huge amount of money and don't mind wearing radioactive matter about your well-tailored person.

Hoptroff, the London-based makers of the intricate insides of personal timepieces, have teamed up with time techies Symmetricom to make what they call the No 10, "the world's first atomic-powered pocket watch".

Hoptroff says it's the most accurate movement ever, losing one and a half seconds every thousand years -- that's 240,000 times more accurate than Big Ben.

Not to be confused with your common or garden watch that might achieve that kind of millenial accuracy by simply receiving a radio signal from a central atomic clock -- like this Hammacher Schlemmer effort -- the No 10 has all the gubbins it needs to do the job itself.

Indeed, Symmetricon developed the chip-scale atomic clock system for the US military, which needed self-reliant super-accurate timepieces in case of signal jamming. And because of the scary stuff inside it, you'll be subject to security clearances before you can buy one.

The movement contains a tiny caesium gas chamber inside a temperature-controlled oven, with a laser to activate the radioactive atoms and a microwave resonator to measure their atomic transitions -- their half-life -- in order to measure time.

"As far as we know it is the first time an atomic time source has been used in a pocket watch movement," boasts Richard Hoptroff, managing director of Hoptroff, "and it delights me that it was achieved right here in London, not Le Locle or Tokyo."

The movement has a staggering 28 dials, measuring useful things to know such as your longitude, latitude and humidity, and whether the mini nuclear reactor is about to tear a hole in your abdomen.

The finished pocket watch is due later this year, and will cost "well into five figures". Only 12 will be made. Here's a concept design of what it might look like:

Would you carry one of these around in your Ede & Ravenscroft waistcoat? Deign to leave a comment below, or mix with the hoi polloi on our Facebook page.

 

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