Currently the small lithium ion battery inside of the Cesium 133 lasts less than a day or two but Bathys has faith that such a number can be stretched significantly by playing with the features and battery type. An atomic clock module with a constant laser and other complex elements will never sip power, but Bathys will design a more than wearable model. Further, the good news from the Symmetricom side is that they are developing smaller, more power efficient atomic clock  chips for scientific… and of course horological use.

Patterson is amused by the project but is serious about it. He is proud that he did it first, but doesn’t necessarily understand why. In fact he is a bit surprised. What seems to surprise him most is that the Swiss aren’t doing it themselves. What? Build atomic clock-based watches with items like or better than the Symmetricom chip? The Swiss wouldn’t really touch it. In fact the only competition at this point is a pocket watch. Known as the # 10, UK based Hoptroff produced an Atomic Pocket Watch. Also released in 2013, the Hoptroff Atomic Pocket watch is not only significantly later, but also much more expensive (and to Patterson, that higher cost isn’t necessary).

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That isn’t to say the Cesium 133 will be cheap, but rather that it will be much less – but more on that later. For now the Cesium 133 is still a garage product with a strap. Bathys still isn’t clear on what the final case will look like. Right now the watch with the dial, chip, battery, and circuit board are all in a large box made mostly out of carbon fiber. It isn’t very heavy, but it is large. Bathys is currently looking for the best ways to shrink the size of the Cesium 133 while at the same time making it more attractive. Though I’ll have to say that in carbon fiber the watch looks a lot better than in a naked steel case that made it look like a science fair project.


If Bathys plays their cards right the most important Bathys watch ever made will come out in the near future. Part of Patterson is OK with the knowledge that he did it. That he beat everyone and made the first atomic clock-based wristwatch. At the same time the Cesium 133 project just might help kick start his more traditional watch making passion. If this ultra-high-tech gadget watch raises enough income, it will ironically be used to help produce traditional timepieces (especially mechanical ones) that this Cesium 133 atomic clock would utterly defeat in any accuracy performance comparison.

Having said that, what mostly drives watches is aesthetics and style – not performance. While the Cesium 133 will have traditional watches learning a thing or two about the true meaning of accuracy, traditional watches will hopefully show the Cesium 133 a thing or two about style.

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Given the Symmetricom chip’s wide industrial and scientific appeal, its functions are apparently quite vast. Indicating the time appears to be among its most rudimentary and perhaps non-focal features. In fact, even though it can tell the time with insane accuracy and never lose a second during the period of your life or any ancestors you can imagine, it does need to be initially set. For that Bathys ideally will have the watch sync with the correct time in a few optional ways, including GPS satellites, the internet, or perhaps another atomic clock. If Bathys wants to go a bit over-board, they can even make the Cesium 133 watch into not only a reference clock for one’s entire watch collection, but also a tool one can use to measure the accuracy of other timing devices.

Bathys initially promised to produced 20 or so Cesium 133 Atomic watches but that number may increase based on demand. The good news is that the price might come down as well. At this point anything is possible, but I wouldn’t expect prices to drop under $8,000 (down from an original estimated price of $12,000). Even though the current version of the watch comes in a light-weight all carbon-fiber case, it isn’t ready for prime time yet. Patterson will continue to labor in his preferred isolation on the ultimate accurate gadget watch that seems to do conflict with his own lifestyle, but there is no doubt that only passion could bring something like this to life.


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