Does an ATMOS clock need oil to run?

Every now and then we come across one or the other rumor regarding the ATMOS clock that seems to be around for years. One of the most popular rumors is the idea of an ATMOS needing oil to run.

This is not true.

Other than most clocks, the ATMOS does not need to be oiled by you in order for it to run for years and years to come. Neither classic oil used in mechanics nor special modern syntactical oils used in micro mechanics help an ATMOS to run. Actually, the opposite is the case: Even the slightest bit of oil in one of the rubies for example can cause a clock to run wrongly, and, worst case scenario, the clock can also stop running.

eine Werk Kal 526/5

This is a movement of a calibre 526/5 – someone drenched it in oil, causing the movement to stick together and stop running.

Oil is being used in traditional mechanics where certain parts or machine wheels move very fast and thus create a high temperature or run the risk of showing signs of wear very quickly. In cases like this, classic oil such as neatsfoot oil is used to create an antifriction effect. The most crucial side effect of classic oils is their short durability: After only a short amount of time, most classic oils thicken and start getting sticky. In the history of watchmaking, many have tried to prevent this – without much success.

With the development of synthetic oils, the watchmaking industry invented a very important alternative to the classic oils. Synthetic oils are a lot more durable and have a higher level of antifriction which makes them more suitable for the use in watches or clocks (for further information on this see e.g.: & – a German website of dear friends of us).

However, for the ATMOS clock even the modern synthetic oils are not good enough. That is not only because even the best synthetic oils could not keep up with the long lifetime of an ATMOS clock (mind you – it can run up to 30 years without service in between – no oil in the world could survive that) but mostly because the Atmos simply does not need to be oiled. The unique balance of the clock with only 120 half-rounds per hour (2 half-rounds per minute which equals a frequency of 0,01666 Hz) allows the fragile gears of the clock to grab each other so softly and precisely, that there is hardly any sign of wear – even after numerous years. That is also one of the reasons why the clock typically does not need a service very often – if looked after, a service every 10-25 years is sufficient. The slow, calm movement of the clock not only gives the clock its soothing look but also adds to its longevity.

That is why an ATMOS clock is very “dry” to start with – when it leaves the original manufacturing warehouse. The individual parts of it are almost clinically clean. That is also why any “self-attempt” to oil it causes such a damage to it – the sensible movement of the clock is not supposed to have large amount of oils of any kind on it, so please, even if it seems like a logic thing to do in order to get something “running” again – do not try and help your ATMOS get back to live by adding oil to it. Over the years we have seen many clocks that have obviously been messed with as people added various kinds of oil to them – it takes hours to clean all the little parts from the oil and repair the damage that was done. The only grease that you should find inside of your ATMOS is the one that is well hidden inside of the barrel. Inside of it there is the spring screw which is covered with a very thing layer of synthetic oil – this is to guarantee that the spring does not rust over the years.

A funny side note: You cannot imagine how many clocks we receive that do not run because people tried to add oil to the movement. Surprisingly, most of them come from the US. After a while, we have come to the following conclusions: 1) There must be a can of silicon spray in every household of America. 2) it seems to be thought of as the secret wonder weapon for ATMOS clocks! (of course we love our American ATMOS friends just as much as any other – we do not mean to insult anyone by saying this, we thought you might find it amusing). Let me just stress this again: Your ATMOS does not need oil. of any kind. It also does not need silicon spray or similar sprays. If it does not run, it is most likely because if some other defect. Should you be interested in finding out why your clock does not run or has started to slow down /show the wrong time, get in touch, we are here to help! FYI: This is what the inside of the clock should not look like: