Screw the iWatch
I want one of these babies. Oo
Could this be the chronometrist’s ultimate timepiece, the peak of horological haute couture? British bespoke movement maker Hoptroff today claimed to have produced the world’s first personal chronometer with an on board atomic clock. The result, says Hoptroff, is a accuracy of 1.5 seconds every 3.15 x 1010 seconds - that’s …
But really - we already have clocks that can set from the radio rime signals and GPS watches - both are already extremely accurate to the point of further accuracy is pretty pointless. I suspect any iWatch would run NTP so it's already going to have sub second accuracy so unless you are using your watch for piloting a cruise missile or high frequency trading etc. I can think of better ways of spending the dosh.
@AC - I fear you are missing the point. The point is that when someone comes up to you and says "Hello peasant, I have an iWatch" you are in a position to retort "Well, that's pretty cool but inside my watch, right now, a high power laser is firing at a radioactive isotope, keeping time accurate to a nanosecond. But yeah, I guess an iWatch is pretty cool as well."
Unless you stick an entirely unnecessary "Nuclear" symbol on the front face
Definitely not flying El Al with that one then.
"Welcome to Tel Aviv, sir. Anything to declare?"
"Only my chutzpah guv."
"Sir, I notice your watch has an atomic symbol on it...?"
"Ah, yes that... Oh no! It's not nuclear, you see what it is is, it's got this gas chamber that..."
"Sir, please step out of the line."
@tabman: Sadly El Reg don't sell them any more as the store has closed. I think searching fr "tritium keyring" might show something up on google though.
@Yet Another Anonymous coward: It was attached to my keys -- even went through US security with it.
> As caesium atomic clocks use the stable isotope caesium-133, it is not radioactive, and there is no danger
> of being accused of moving nuclear material while travelling.
Doesn't stop the idiots seeing the word 'atomic' and thinking it could wipe out the city if you dropped it.
The makers might want to learn from NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. People saw 'nuclear' and got scared, so it was rebranded magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Same thing, less scary name.
How about 'laser-excited chromometer'?
But then, as I do, she would know the watch was 2 minutes late and realise she can be 2 minutes late.
Then one day, the watch connects to an ntp server, realises it is 2 minutes fast, sets the proper time and then she turns up 2 minutes late for the next 1000 years :)
Could this be the chronometrist’s ultimate timepiece, the peak of horological haute couture?
Er, no. That would be something having that sort of of accuracy, but done with clockwork. In the world of watches your el cheapo quartz job will easily qualify for chronometric accuracy, yet a clockwork one that does will set you back a tidy sum.
When it comes to watch willy-waving it's all about the craftsmanship, not the accuracy. Thus we still have multi-tourbillon watches at the high end of things, purely because they're bloody complicated to make.
You should see the gyroscopic tourbillons, beautiful to behold with the balance wheels rotating on all 3 axis while they regulate the watch, but stupidly expensive (think 7 figures for a watch). Quartz and radio controlled time signals beat mechanical long ago, in the same way that cars beat horses, but people still spend big money on race horses.
"The unit contains a temperature controlled caesium gas chamber. A laser is used to heat the radioactive atoms, and a microwave resonator to detect the emissions from the atoms’ electrons as they change energy levels as part of the radioactive decay. The frequency of the microwaves is highly stable and provides the clock’s beat."
Unless symmetricon have some freakish new way to make a physics package the caesium used is caesium-133 which is not radioactive, and radioactive decay has nothing to do with it.
Here is a great video where engineer guy explains how a Cs atomic clock works, please note references to radiation are to electromagnetic radiation, ie microwaves
So after the lithium battery runs down and it loses the current time/date, how does it get reset to sufficient accuracy?
NTP over Bluetooth wouldn't cut it to get sub-microsecond precision so presumably you need a calibrated, rack mounted and UPS protected atomic clock it can connect up to and resync?
You have to set the time yourself through the modules serial interface (It's not RS232, it's TTL level serial </pedant>).
I would imagine that Hoptroff have designed some mechanism to do that with the classic winder that you have on pocket watches.
All you are getting with the Cs source is a very stable time reading, not an absolute measurement of time.
That's exactly what I was thinking. My $30 Casio "atomic" (radio updated) wristwatch keeps perfect time, with the battery lasting 3+ years, thank you very much.
I guess the only time my watch won't update is after The Bomb has gone off; should I be out of signal in an underground shelter, I may find myself being 0.001 seconds late opening my ration of Spam.
There are some limitations to radio controlled watches.
The first and most obvious is that the most common type need to be within 1500 km of a time base transmitter (there's 1 for Europe, one for the US of A and one in Japan that I know of). There are quite large chunks of the world that are out of range. There's another type that uses the GPS time base, but they need more power.
The second is that the signal is strong and free from interference. From experience this is oftern untrue. Synchronisation can fail for days at a time.
Better to use NNTP time from the Internet or the time base from the cellular network which is more pervasive.
There are far more transmitters than that. I know, because the cheapy radio clock I bought from a market stall syncs with the germany signal, although I'm in the UK, so it's an hour fast :(
Atoms change energy levels when electrons descend from one shell to another. This is what happens when fluorescent lamps or neon lights shine. If radioactive decay took place, the watch would run out of gas eventually as the gas changed to another element, or at least another isotope.
After seeing so many watches that set themselves via short-wave time signals, I was waiting for a watch like this to go beyond quartz. Too bad it's so expensive. Hope that a cheaper, slightly less accurate, but more stable, rubidium version comes out soon.
Since the display is based on mechanical hands driven by stepper motors, the amount of time the stepper takes to activate, and the stepper's variance over the years, will be a significant source of inaccuracy if you really want to know the correct time NOW.
Even an LCD or LED display takes a significant time (in atomic clock terms) to build up an image.
That's to say nothing of the time taken in the neural pathways to the brain to actually perceive the time.
Years ago, the atomic clocks used in satellites were the size of cigarette lighters. (That was state of the art.) Not sure how much drift (accuracy) occurred when compared to this slightly smaller unit.
The cool thing is that while its a bit big for a watch, its possible to build a pocket watch that could be used to make a more accurate personal GPS device.
While they sell 'atomic' wall clocks (they receive the radio signal from the national time centers), imagine having your own clock that can automatically give you the correct time without having to sync with base stations or other devices.
Ok, so its just a pure geek thing. ;-)
I definitely want one.
WTF? There's nothing nuclear or radiactive involved in cesium "atomic" clocks.
I hesistate to take cheap shots at authors, but that stuff was blatently made up from whole cloth. Perhaps we should take up a collection so the author can take a class on how to use Google and Wikepedia.
These days, most people already carry a device with them that tells them the time accurate to within a fraction of a second. The wearing of a watch as a device simply to tell time, so necessary a few decades ago, is no longer practiced. Those who wear watches today wear them for fashion, and don't really care all that much about its accuracy as a timepiece.
I wear a watch for convenience, not fasion, my other devices, such as my phone have to be removed from pocket and activated to show the time, my watch is just there, all the time, instant access (looks at wrist) and more accurate than any smart phone that syncs with NTP or the local cell network.
Sorry, you're a fool if you think a wristwatch, ANY wristwatch, even a watch that has an atomic clock inside, is more accurate than a device synced with NTP. Go look up the specs for NTP and then tell me honestly that even if you have an infinitely accurate watch that there is any way you can actually SET that watch more accurately than NTP will set your phone.
Even if it is accurate to one part in a billion billion billion billion if you set it a hundredth of a second off (which you'd be doing quite well to manage) it is still off by more than a NTP synced device, and it will remain always off by that hundredth of a second until the heat death of the universe.
I use the same, and you have the added benefit that it's an absolute time, rather than just a 'ticker', so the watch/clocks set themselves correctly as soon as they are switched on, and notice automatically summer/winter clock changes. (Mine is also solar powered, so batteries not needed either).
Also it's not in Rugby, it's in Anthorn, Cumbria, has been for years.
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