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back to article Atomic clocks come to your wrist

Smartwatches? Who'd bother now that personal atomic clocks are on the agenda? The timepiece in question is called the Cesium 133 and has been announced by high-end Hawaiian watch outfit Bathys Hawaii. The watch is said to contain “a single chip” wherein resides “a laser, a heater, a sealed cavity of cesium gas, a microwave …

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Expensive toy, at best.

My network time-keeper checks in on ntp.org once a week (and is accurate to under a quarter of a second every six months). The rest of the kit take clock from that box daily. It's close enough for government work, so it's close enough for me. My weather gear also checks ntp.org regularly, as does the telco kit that keeps my cell phone's clock accurate.

I don't wear a watch. I can see the time from nearly everywhere, these days.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm assuming that the size of the watch is down to the lead lining to prevent the wearer suffering radiation sickness.......

Does it come with a dosimeter?

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Re: Expensive toy, at best.

Hey, if they can pack this thing down to a chip that fits on a watch, what's stopping someone using the same chip design as a time source on a server. It may be overkill for most businesses who can just turn to the NTP time pools, but perhaps this can diversify the time source pool, make it more reliable. And any firms that need highly-accurate time could consider such a device if they don't have a similar source already. If the watch only costs $12,000, then something else using the same chip would probably stay safely within five figures and be something worth considering for a firm that routinely handles seven figures or more.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expensive toy, at best.

Isn't that the point? The cost of timekeeping technology declines with time in the same way that computing does generally. If there are laptops in 10 years time, they'll probably contain one.

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"I'm assuming that the size of the watch is down to the lead lining to prevent the wearer suffering radiation sickness.......

"Does it come with a dosimeter?"

Why would you need one of those. Caesium 133 is a stable isotope and doesn't emit any radiation.

Oh, you didn't think that 'atomic' meant 'radioactive'?

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> Caesium 133 is a stable isotope and doesn't emit any radiation.

That's what they want you to think. Now I'm off to eat my banana.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expensive toy, at best.

Or buy a GPS based NTP server for £1000-2000 (perhaps less).

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Re: Expensive toy, at best.

"Or buy a GPS based NTP server for £1000-2000 (perhaps less)."

Err, or just buy a satnav. They can display the time off the satellites too.

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Re: Expensive toy, at best.

I think you'll find that Cesium oscillators are already used as timebases in many "servers", especially for telecom equipment. LTE needs or will need it (especially LTE-Advanced) for very precise timing synchronization (sites that are neighbors must be within 1.5 microseconds for some iterations of LTE-A.)

NTP is fine for logfiles and timestamps but isn't going to get you that close.

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Pint

Re: Expensive toy, at best.

"...Cesium oscillators are already used as timebases in many "servers", especially for telecom equipment. "

Cesium, or rubidium? Isn't rubidium the most common choice?

Posted from (not true) my very own (true) FE-5680A rubidium timebase.

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Love the extended crown

I guess that's the control rod sticking out of the side there...

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Mushroom

Re: Love the extended crown

But what happens if (or rather when) you lose the rod?

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Re: Love the extended crown

Push it in and you get a meltdown.

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Re: Love the extended crown

I'd guess that you push it in for the emergency SCRAM for the watch :)

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Coat

Re: Love the extended crown

Wouldja believe that's the second biggest control rod I've ever seen?

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Coat

Does it come with a money back guarantee?

"Loses a second each millennium."

Nobody has time for that type of accuracy!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does it come with a money back guarantee?

I like my auto wind watch, I like the fact that I know it loses 2 minutes a week and I take pleasure in adjusting the time. I fact I like to pre-empt it and set it 8 minutes ahead knowing in a months time it will be spot on and I arrive early for the next four weeks which is an additional bonus.

Owning a watch like this would take the fun out of life.

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" Owning a watch like this would take the fun out of life."

And in unrelated news, some people need hobbies. Well played.

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Re: Does it come with a money back guarantee?

Nobody has a battery to put in it that lasts that long either...

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Soooo... When you leave Hawaii and fly off to Europe how do you then adjust for the east-west drift?

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The real question is, when you're in Hawaii why would you fly off to Europe?

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Even if you needed that accuracy...

how does a little analogue display let you use it ?

More to the point - how long does the battery last ?

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Re: Even if you needed that accuracy...

My first questioning thought was about the analogue display, but that is about resolution of the output, not accuracy. The point of the atomic clock is the long term accuracy. Having said that, I still think it's silly.

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Re: Even if you needed that accuracy...

"The point of the atomic clock is the long term accuracy."

What long-term accuracy ?. How accurately can it be set when you change the battery ?

The main advantage of an atomic clock is its high resolution NOT its long term ( millennia) stability

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Re: Even if you needed that accuracy...

> how does a little analogue display let you use it ?

Well you need to have very good eyes.

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Re: Even if you needed that accuracy...

"How accurately can it be set when you change the battery ?"

Does it automatically adjust for daylight savings/summer time?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even if you needed that accuracy...

Around 70 hours on a recent smartphone battery

Assuming 3VDC, 125 Milliwatts and a smartphone battery is 2600 mAh

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Extended usage

Can you please please make it blow the *****r's arm off if he is more than a few minutes late for a meeting.

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'Cersium' eh?

Sounds a bit like witchcraft to me!

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Re: 'Cersium' eh?

It's in the same periodic group as Unobtanium.

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Flame

Re: 'Cersium' eh?

Burn the witch!

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Re: 'Cersium' eh?

Cersium? Cesium?

What's wrong with Caesium? - from the Latin word "caesius" meaning "sky blue"

Come on Reg, your a British site, and proud of it, adjacent vowels are not errors.

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Re: 'Cersium' eh?

"What's wrong with Caesium?"

...

"Come on Reg, your a British site"

Irony alert! (Yes, I'd always spell it with -ae-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'Cersium' eh?

Caesium isn't a British peculiarity. It's also the IUPAC agreed spelling. (Yes, the same even handed, rigoorous, International Union that recommends the spellings 'sulfur' and 'aluminium'.)

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Joke

But wait, there's more!

Buy now, and claim a lifetime of free rectal probes from your friendly TSA agents every time you go anywhere near an airport!

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Apparently it is a Repeater Watch

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/01/hoptroff_shows_first_atomic_watch_movement/

Brit horologist hammers out ‘first’ ATOMIC-POWERED watch

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Re: Apparently it is a Repeater Watch

Or of course here the US version....

http://www.leapsecond.com/pages/atomic-bill/

...which actually was produced in significant quantities an even is digital.

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$12,000?

Dear lord that's not only ugly, it looks bloody childish too. I could forsake a couple of seconds a week for something that looks nice and wearable.

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Re: $12,000?

Makes as much sense as a Rolex or Breitling. [shrug]

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Re: $12,000?

I think this is for the kind of people who can find $12,000 amongst the bits of fluff in an old jeans pocket, and who will probably never wear it but will tell people about it at dinner parties. On their yacht.

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Facepalm

Re: $12,000?

Just be careful not to mention the name of the restaurant where you're having lunch when you tweet that you're wearing your "cool new, super expensive" wristwatch. o.O

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Coat

Re: $12,000?

Which one? ... Yacht, I mean. Prefer helicopters myself... Leave mine running to keep the pigeons off the roof. Mine's the one with the fluff in the ....oh hey!!!!

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Mine cost about £100

You can get 'em all over the place - radio controlled watches that synchronise to a time signal that is also atomic-locked, without having the bother of a laser on your wrist. My particular G-shock model is solar powered too. Never have to wind it up, no battery to replace and I never have to adjust the time (though if I shift time zones there is a bit of button-pressing to do to tell it).

Admittedly if I'm out of range of the time signal it supposedly falls back to internal timekeeping and re-adjusts when I'm back home, but though I travel a fair bit in Europe and the Americas, that hasn't happened yet.

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Re: Mine cost about £100

It's probably one of the better ones that can pick up multiple time signals, I think as long as you're close enough to 48-state USA, England, Germany, China, or Japan you'll get a usable signal.

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Boffin

Re: Mine cost about £100

Your watch isn't atomic-locked though. It's out by however long it takes the radio signal to reach you, which is a varying lag. Unless it has a GPS component to compensate?

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Re: Mine cost about £100

Those atomic clocks only check in at night, supposedly when the atmospheric conditions are best for the signal propagation. I assume that as a 10 dollar clock it isn't disciplining the oscillator and is only resetting the time once per day.

The timing signal itself is blindingly simple, as an analog radio transmission carrying an audio signal. If you have a shortwave radio you can pick them up and decode the ticking with your ears.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWV_(radio_station)

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Am I the only one

Who thinks it looks pretty fucking cool?!

I would love one but think the XYL would be very upset with me when I told her how much I had just spent on it...

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Re: Am I the only one

Yes,

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