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Bathys Cesium 133 Atomic Wrist Watch: Hands-On With The Prototype In Carbon Fiber

Bathys Cesium 133 Atomic Wrist Watch: Hands-On With The Prototype In Carbon Fiber Hands-On

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).

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.

Bathys Cesium 133 Atomic Wrist Watch: Hands-On With The Prototype In Carbon Fiber Hands-On

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.

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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Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991181840

  • Maybe that large case could be used for solar cells so keep the beast running longer. Being an electronic device, any complication you can think of (except a tourbillon – which is not actually one anyway) is possible. So anything a G-Shock can display could be done and with multiple analog dials (again using the large flat real estate on the case top). A USB connection and some software would enable you to set the time on your computers. Potentially set the time in one’s car, etc. As a portable reference time device there are lots of possibilities. Even at its current brick size, its still very cool.

  • Ulysses31

    There are large watches, then there are comically large watches, and then there’s this.  Tell me you didn’t chuckle even a little as you strapped this on to your wrist.  This would work as a mantle clock or something wall mounted, but attaching a strap to something doesn’t make it a wrist watch.  As i’ve said before, I appreciate the technology, but most of the applause must go to Symmetricom.

  • LapYoda

    The Invicta guys must be saying to themselves, “Why didn’t *we* come up with a brick for the wrist?”

    All kidding aside, this is a real technological advancement in watchmaking, like the tuning fork or quartz movements before it.  Just needs a ton of refinement and a wrist-sized car battery to power the thing.

  • HowieBoyd

    Typo in 7th paragraph.  “…Symmetricom SA.45s CASC (chip scale atomic clock).” should read “…Symmetricom SA.45s CSAC (chip scale atomic clock).”  
    (See Microsemi’s website)

  • HowieBoydThank you.

  • Emperius

    Wrist Cancer

  • DG Cayse

    Interesting. I wish the gent well in his endeavours.
    Whatever final, or market, form this pieces takes – good luck in getting it by the TSA cretins.

  • DG CayseYeah, let’s see – its radioactive and it ticks. No problems there, welcome aboard!

  • BathysHawaii

    Aloha Ariel – I just now saw this. LOL! Am I really that quirky?  Maybe so..
    This was a good explanation of how we got to this point. The idea of using the CSAC chip came from a friend who uses hydrophones ad other seismic sensors for military applications –  since they cant pull down a GPS signal for time-stamping, using the CSAC chip at 30MHz allows very precise time info to be recorded. The better your timing data, the better the spatial resolution. 

    Great article and it was nice to see you again. Not sure how you can have a couple drinks and manage to remember all the stuff I said! Cheers from my hermit cave on the remote island of Kauai!

  • BathysHawaii

    ps I read this to my wife and she was laughing her ass off! She said you “nailed it”…

  • BathysHawaii

    Ulysses31 I agree – the two physicists who shrank this technology into a tiny laser cavity deserve a lot more credit than I do. Also need to give props to George Talbot who helped me develop the interface.

  • BathysHawaii

    DG Cayse  
    I did take it on the plane from Kauai to Honolulu and showed it to TSA – no worries. The guys in Kauai know me – I’m always carrying odd stuff on the plane…last year it was a Norden Bombsight that I donated to the Pacific Aviation Museum. Now *that* looks crazy-suspicious!

  • Nicolas_Rieussec

    I think you meant descendents, not ancestors.

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