Overhaul Pricing and Comparisons
I make my living overhauling the Atmos and 400-day or Anniversary clocks from all over the globe and I was both an Atmos and 400-day overhaul Instructor. Because of the complexities of the Atmos clock, an Atmos needs a complete mechanical overhaul whenever serviced. An Atmos keeping good time does not need any periodic maintenance, so don't waste your money based on what other's may have said. The current price of a mechanical overhaul for most LeCoultre made Atmos is $600.00, which includes all labor. Shipping, handling, and insurance is added to that base charge as well as any needed parts. International shipping costs are $125.00. Please keep in mind that there may be a custom's fee or tariff based on value. I'll insure your Atmos for anything up to $2,000.00, more if your insist, but be sure to check your country's policies when it comes to something being returned to you from the United States. One part of note because of its expense is the bellows also called the motor. It is the large round "bowl shaped" object on the back of the clock. The current cost to refill your original bellows (if needed) is $200.00. On average 80% of bellows can be refilled and that assures that your Atmos stays 100% original. If the bellows cannot be refilled then the choices are; use another refilled bellows that is close to the date of your original bellows (usually within a year) for the an extra $50.00 for a total cost of $250.00 or replace with new bellows which costs $600.00. My overhaul service takes about 8 to 12 months and includes a 5-year warranty on all labor and any part you paid for and installed by myself. The price exceptions are the 50th and 150th anniversary special editions or any other special edition Atmos' are $750.00 for the base labor overhaul. I have over 30 years experience on the LeCoultre Atmos and I have the longest warranty anywhere at 5 years. Return to Index Parts (If they are needed) I use genuine LeCoultre parts and proven after-market parts where the cost saving are justified. Also, many overhauls require a new suspension spring, which currently cost $150.00 installed. It has been my experience that if the serial # of the Atmos is under 150,000 then, sometimes, the suspension spring WILL need replacing, if it is the original part. Also, there is a slight possibility in these older Atmos' that the mainspring is set. A set mainspring has lost its ability to hold its tension and therefore cannot drive the clock accurately. This is very rare but there are times when a new mainspring is needed and the current cost is $100.00. Because of the high cost of the new bellows, currently $600.00, I do not replace it unless it has lost 9 mm or gas or more. That would make my depth measurements 32mm or greater. In most cases, I can have your original bellows refilled at a cost to you of $200.00 and that represents a $400.00 savings over new replacement bellows. Refilling the bellows is my personal preference because it keeps the clock 100% original and your original bellows contains the date of manufacture, which is used to date your Atmos. If the clock stops within the 5 year warranty period and we find that it is the bellows, then I do NOT charge for my labor to install a refilled or new bellows but you would be responsible for the cost of the bellows and the return shipping charge of $125.00. I like to take the wait and see approach. I have seen bellows "flat" after only ten years and I've seen "perfect" bellows that were 65 years old. If you have a caliber 540 or higher, which translates into a serial # of 600,000 or higher, then there is about a 90% possibility that your Atmos will NOT need any parts including bellows refilling. Return to Index J. L. Reutter & Mercury Bellows
Sorry but I'm no longer working on the French made Reutter Atmos
The very first commercial production run of the Atmos (now called the Atmos 1) was made by Compagnie generale de radio (CGR). Together with Jean-Leon Reutter, production started in June 1929. Two French patents were granted for the Atmos 0 (624.595) and for the Atmos I (664.689) but that company never produced the Atmos 0. They are very nicely made and typically they have a plate saying "Reutter Brevet" or "Brevets J. L. Reutter S. G. D. G." (Brevet = Patent). Production stopped on July 27, 1935 when the company transferred all inventory and work in progress to LeCoultre. These clocks were wound with two mercury filled glass vials. Assuming these glass vials are intact with the proper amount of mercury, I will overhaul these clocks for $750.00, which is a base mechanical overhaul including all labor plus shipping plus parts. Please be aware that original parts are nonexistent but internally the LeCoultre parts will work as original parts. This means that I have no access to any external or case parts. The only supplier of the Reutter suspension springs, furnishes springs that are wider than they need to be so I must thin these in order to bring the Atmos to time. This is very time consuming and labor intensive, so I charge $200.00 if your Reutter Atmos needs a suspension spring. Just to alert you, the testing on a Reutter can take weeks to months because of the thinning of the replacement suspension spring. It is the real tedious part of the job and tries my patience. I'm preparing both you and I for the future frustration. I have no way to replace the glass vials or the mercury. But manual winding is a snap and to access just opening the back door and then push the protruding small knob on the bellows up and then allow it to come down on its own. Once the bellows no longer comes down on its own, the clock is fully wound and should last for about a year.
Please see Atmos History for more information about the history of the Atmos clock. Return to Index My 5-year Warranty The reason I give a 5-year warranty is because I feel that no one can touch my service or expertise in the repair of the Atmos clock. All Atmos clocks will run anywhere from 14 months to 20 months on a full wind of the mainspring, which all "repair persons" do for any level of service. Typically the older an Atmos is the longer it will run on a full wind of the mainspring. Realize that the bellows job is to wind the mainspring, so if there are any bellows or winding troubles, they will not surface for over a year and that may be after "their" the warranty expires. If an Atmos comes back within the 5-year warranty for any reason and I find that I take it from its packing box and then to the test shelf and it runs continuously, there is a $100.00 charge plus return shipping of $125.00. Most times if an Atmos I have worked on stops, it will run provided that the customer follows my stating procedure that is contained in my operations manual. Proper Starting section of my operations manual. The same charge would apply if anyone caused the breakage of a part. Added to that would be the cost of the part. I would still eat the labor because there would be no need to "re-overhaul" the clock assuming that I worked on that particular Atmos and it was still within the warranty period. Under my 5-year warranty, you would pay the shipping and insurance to the Clinic and I would pay for the shipping and insurance back. If the returned Atmos is still under my 5-year warranty and stops within a few weeks from packing box to test shelf then there is no charge what-so-ever and will be returned running properly in about 6 to 8 weeks because of the need to retest your Atmos for at least 3 weeks. The original warranty is valid for 5 years but never extended. Return to Index Shipping, Packing & Turn Around Times I advise shipping the Atmos with the original carton if available. Please make sure that the clock does not rattle in its first shipping box. Take up any space with packing peanuts or bubble wrap in order to eliminate any looseness. In any case, please be sure to double box the clock and insure it for at least $1,000. Here you must be careful because if you don't state that you are sending a USED Atmos clock for repair, customs will assume it's a sale and charge me, which means ultimately you, a duty or customs fee based on the value you place on the clock for shipping. By double box I mean to pack the 1st and 2nd boxes as if you were going to ship each independent from the other one. When I ship the Atmos back, I use a 11" x 11" x 11" box for the clock and then the 14" x 14" x 14" for the second and advise you to do the same. Also, if your Atmos has the two slide pins on the side of the case for lifting the upper case off in order to set the time, please use a low adhesive tape like painter´s tape, in order to secure the pins. This is usually found on the Atmos II, calibers 519, 529, and the 528-6 (that's exactly what the -6 means). These pins can work themselves out during shipping and can easily be bent. Be sure to pack your Atmos well with minimal tape because when I unpack I try to save your packing material and a lot of packing tape prevents me from recycling. Please be sure to ask for 100% biodegradable packing peanuts or purchase them yourself. Please do NOT use shredded paper because it is extremely messy and drives me crazy. Please have whatever carrier you use issue a return label. This makes my life a whole lot easier and you should be aware of any customs fees when it returns. I generally place a value of at least $1,000.00 and many times your customs and duty charges are based on that value and do not take into consideration that the item is used and being returned. You could potentially save some money by working with the carrier BEFORE you ship it to me and include that return label. If you don't send a return label then for return shipping I use USPS Priority Mail. If you want to use another carrier then you will have to arrange everything for shipping, meaning I hand the box to the driver, get a receipt and nothing else. In other words, I will not ship the Atmos back using your account unless the carrier picks it up at my Clinic and all paper work and the shipping label are sent to me electronically. I understand some trepidation about shipping an Atmos and I can assure you that if the clock is packed well, and the pendulum (balance) is locked, then there should not be a problem. With the balanced locked, any Atmos can withstand a great deal of shaking and movement just short of dropping it. I have shipped overhauled Atmos' all over the world and never have had to deal with shipping insurance because of any damage done during transit. I must have shipped over 3,000 Atmos' so just use common sense and pack each box well. My turnaround is usually 8 to 12 months. Please be sure to LOCK the pendulum before doing ANYTHING! Old parts are returned by request only. Upon the receipt of the clock, I inspect it to make sure that it survived its trip to the Clinic. If all appears okay, then it usually takes 30 to 38 weeks to perform the complete disassembly. At this time, I call or E-mail you to advice on what, if any, parts are needed and the amount quoted, at that time, becomes a firm price. After that disassembled contact, the parts are ordered and the overhaul work usually begins within 1 to 2 weeks, longer if the bellows needs refilling or if the case need refinishing. The reason for the longer turn times is that I must send these out to another professional and I'm subject to their work volume. My volume of Atmos overhauls has been steadily increasing and turn times are estimates and may be longer than indicated above. With anywhere from 30 to 50 Atmos clocks in house waiting for their overhaul, I do offer a wait list service. Meaning that I place you on my wait list and it is as if the Atmos came in that day and you've just established your place on my "to do" list. Once the calendar comes within about 3 weeks of your Atmos being worked on, I E-mail and ask you to ship your Atmos at that time. This usually cuts the turn around time in half. Please only ask for wait list service if you are sure you will send the Atmos in for repair and not just to have a place in line while you continue to shop around for another who services the Atmos. I say this because it does take time to record, follow a protocol, and make contact when the waiting period is over. It's extremely frustrating to make contact and then to be ignored or to be told you have gone with another. Please do your research before you ask to be wait listed. Thank you. To have your Atmos overhaul wait listed please E-mail. Return to Index Testing and the Unknown Once testing starts it is performed in two parts. The first test is the function test to ascertain whether or not your Atmos will run properly. During this electronic test the clock is "timed" without the dial or hands being attached. This most always takes about 24 hours. Then the second test is the Atmos fully assembled and is the final test which takes any where from a few days to as many as 6 weeks. I ship when both the final payment and the testing period have been satisfied. Normally shipping takes place about a week or so after the overhaul is completed. Here's how long it takes each wheel in the Atmos to turn. 1 turn of the mainspring barrel occurs in 103.57 days 1 turn of the 2nd wheel occurs in 20.714 days 1 turn of the 3rd wheel occurs in 3.4524 days 1 turn of the 4th wheel occurs in 8.2854 hours 1 turn of the 5th wheel occurs in 1.0000 hour 1 turn of the 6th wheel occurs in 0.2500 hour Now a test for 104 days would be excessive but 3 or even 6 weeks is in the realm of possibilities. The best of all worlds would be for me to test for 6 weeks, which allows most wheels to turn at least 2 revolutions. I realize that some people do not have the patience for that and why I'm willing to send them off in a little as a week´s testing but prefer 3 weeks. What sometimes does happen is that the Atmos, after the overhaul, is now too efficient. Meaning that the balance will rotate too much. The excessive rotation causes the roller on the balance to pass though the fork and then have so much more rotational force that it then hits the fork on its side, some 340° away. This hitting the fork after it has passed through causes the Atmos to run too fast and in fact you will not be able to regulate it. I bring this up because it takes at least a week and many times 2 weeks for the balance to arrive at full rotational strength. NOTE: Just for your information, a balance rotation of under 360° in total, from stop to stop, will have a similar affect. Here the Atmos can run either fast or slow, there is just no telling. The reason for this is that the balance is now underpowered but can keep running for months and months. So for those that have the patience to wait for a three or six week test, I'll be more than happy to do so BUT I would need to be paid in the same time frame as if I would be shipping it with only a week of testing. The three and six week test also negates the paragraph below about the suspension spring being too weak because that will show up and be corrected, if necessary. But even with the extra testing, you will still have to adjust the timing of your Atmos because each environment will have a different average temperature and the hours it stays at any set temperatures would also be different. The Atmos is affected by the temperature of the environment it is located in. The "fun" will be that once you have it adjusted, the outside temperature will be changing enough so that the inside temperature will change as far as how long it stays at one temperature or another and then you'll have to adjust the Atmos again. If an Atmos is within 30 seconds per month then it is an accurate Atmos. So I can test it until the cows come home and you will still have to address the fact that the Atmos will run at a different rate at your location. When I ship back the clock, the package will contain your original invoice and an instruction manual that I authored. Please be advised that the original estimate cannot determine whether or not the suspension spring currently has the strength to properly slow the rotation of the pendulum. An older weaker suspension spring will cause the clock to run fast because the balance will swing until it is stopped by opposite side of the fork. This secondary contact of the fork prevents the balance from making its full rotation and therefore the clock will run fast and you will not be able to regulate the time. The vast majority of times the original suspension spring can be used but I cannot guarantee that fact until I complete testing. Return to Index Payment and Estimates Please do not send any money or check with your Atmos. I would like payment by money order, or certified check in U.S. dollars. The easiest would be through Pay Pal, which is the only way I take credit cards, but I add 4% to the total to cover Pay Pal's take. If you want to use Pay Pal, I will send a Pay Pal invoice to your Pay Pal E-mail address. Again the Pay Pal invoice will be 4% higher in order to cover their "take". Or you and use email@example.com in Pay Pal and then pay the total as a friend and family payment, which means that Pay Pal charges you all their fees for that transaction and I get the total billed. There is a circle to check which states, "I'm sending money to family or friends" and Pay Pal will take their fees from your account and send me the full amount. I discourage prepayments, except for part charges that exceed $500.00. However, I usually collect 1/2 of the invoice total once the disassembly is completed if the parts total exceeds $500.00. If you decide not to go ahead with the repair, then I return the clock. The charge will be $100.00 labor, plus my standard shipping and the insurance charges. This total works out to be $250.00 for a clock returned unrepaired after my estimate. Return to Index Refilled Bellows Through various efforts in the trade, I now can offer to refill your original bellows (if needed). Bellows are filled with ethyl chloride, which is that same material used by LeCoultre. I offer this service for a cost of $200.00, which is a $400.00 savings versus a new bellows. If the bellows fail within the 5 year warranty period, you must pay for return shipping. I will replace your spent refilled bellows, which was initially refilled by me, with another refilled bellows that is within a year of your original bellows and only charge the $125.00 for return shipping, no labor cost will be charged. The above costs are only good as part of a complete overhaul. If you want the bellows refilled as a stand alone service, then the cost is $350.00. That includes return shipping and you will have to remove the spent bellows and sent it to me and reinstall the refilled bellows. If you do not have the old bellows, then I can supply a bellows usually manufactured within a year of your serial #. That adds $50.00 to the $350.00 mentioned above for $400.00. You can also order a "spent" bellows that will date within a year of your original bellows. For just an old bellows without refilling, the charge is $150.00 including shipping. You must be aware that there is a 20% failure on refilling used bellows. Therefore, I cannot guarantee that your bellows refill will be successful. I can, however, have one of my old stock bellows refilled in case of failure and that adds $50.00 to the refilling charge. If the procedure fails, then I'll return your original bellows at no charge, assuming that you sent just the bellows for refilling or take a spend bellows from my inventory that is close to the date of your original bellows (usually within a year) and charge $50.00 extra for a total of $400.00. If you sent the entire clock as part of an overhaul, then I will install either a new bellows at an extra cost of $600.00 or use another refilled bellows that is close to the date of your original bellows (usually within a year) for the an extra $50.00 for a total cost of $250.00. I will NOT and do NOT sell "NEW" bellows to anyone and will only install new bellows as a part of a complete overhaul. Return to Index Soldered Bellows Many of the older Atmos' with a serial # below 50,000 have soldered bellows. This presents a whole new set of problems in order to replace worn out bellows because the bellows are actually soldered onto the bellows canister and plate. I have a procedure for removing a "dead" bellows from the old soldered bellows cover found on the older Atmos' and it's located at: Bellows2.pdf If you would like me to do the same procedure, which keeps the original bellows canister and hardware, except the "dead" bellows, I charge $1,200.00 which includes the new bellows. The actual original bellows is replaced with a new one. The $1,200.00 only covers the material and labor costs for changing the soldered bellows canister to one where any future changing of the bellows would be greatly simplified. The above costs are only good as part of a complete overhaul. All overhaul and other part costs will be added to the $1,200.00. If you want your soldered bellows replaced with a new bellows as a stand alone service, then the cost is $1,400.00. That includes return shipping and you will have to remove the entire bellows (cover and motor included) and sent it to me and reinstall the completed bellows. The $1,400.00 must be pre paid (or at least 1/2) and the service can take as long as 4 months because of slowness in the ordering process for the new bellows. Return to Index Dial and Case Refinishing Dial refinishing is $150.00 when it is part of an overhaul. This will make your old worn Atmos dial look like new. This is a nice companion to case refinishing. Dial refinishing is sent to another professional. Dial refinishing is offered as a stand alone service for an additional $50.00 ($200.00) plus shipping. Payment must accompany the dial. Shipping is $15.00 in the U.S. ($215.00). You would be responsible to remove and reinstall the dial. Expect the dial to be returned to you in about 6 to 8 weeks. Case work such as stripping, polishing, and clear coat sealing is an additional $650.00. This procedure makes the clock look new and I offer this down to brass finish as a cheaper alternative to the 24k gold finish because it is very hard to tell the difference between that and the gold finish. Brass is the base metal so nothing changes metallurgically. All case work is sent to another professional. Polishing and lacquering includes all exposed case parts, all base parts, and occasionally the bellows canister and the canister lid (if needed on the canister if there are fingerprints or tarnish on it). Normally the pendulum and dial bezel do not need this but are included if they have been tarnished. Please be aware that some pendulum bobs cannot be refinished because of their uniqueness. An example would be if your pendulum bob has black lines on it because the refinishing would remove these black lines and I have no way to accurately "reline" the bob. If 24 karat gold plating is desired, which is the original LeCoultre finish, then the total additional cost is between $1,000.00 and $1,400.00 depending on how many pieces are plated. Gold plating is so expensive because it involves the initial polishing procedure to bring the parts down to brass. Then the parts are nickel plated which is followed by the 24 karat gold plating and finally the clear coat. Both the $650.00 for polishing and between $1,000.00 and $1,400.00 for polishing and 24 karat gold plating are added to the cost of the overhaul and any needed parts. All exposed case parts are treated in both the down to brass and the 24k gold treatment for a uniform finish. The internal movement was never gold plated and is made of brass. A deposit of $300.00 for down to brass case refinishing or a deposit of $600.00 for 24k gold case refinishing is required and will be address as soon as you request one or the other. Case polishing and/or plating is NOT offered as a separate service and will only be done in conjunction with an overhaul. See a typical letter to my Refinisher, so you can see the extent of the work performed. Individual parts may be obtained by going to the link Atmos parts. Return to Index Trade Discounts I do not give any trade or volume discounts. Return to Index "Rush" Jobs A job that requires the return of the completed Atmos clock in less than 2 months is available. The "catch" is that my labor charge doubles from $600.00 to $1,200.00, with everything else staying the same. Return to Index Generic Operations Manual A link to my Atmos Operations Manual Return to Index Why an Atmos Would Run for a Short While Then Stop I'm asked why an Atmos would run for a few hours or a few days and then stop. Most assume it is the bellows, but bellows failure accounts for about 20% of Atmos failures. There are many reasons as to the "why" and here's a few reasons. In general stopping could be accumulated dust, wear, dried lubricant, mishandling, some form of metal fatigue, weak or dead bellows, or any combination of these. Some of the factors below will also be responsible for a running Atmos that is either way too fast or too slow. In all cases there is no quick fix and a mechanical overhaul must be done. There are many reasons and I'll try to list as many as I can think of:
Most likely others that escape me at the moment. Return to Index
- Dead or dying bellows; causing the wind on the mainspring to be deficient.
- Winding system has failed from another reason other than the bellows. (Broken chain, broken click spring, broken or misaligned ratchet click, chain stopper pin worked its way loose, broken or misaligned pulley washer, etc.)
- Dirty mainspring.
- Dirty frame bearings (4).
- Dried up lubrication in frame and/or mainspring.
- Dirty movement and/or bearings (jewels.)
- Cracked jewels.
- Bent arbors or pivots.
- Scored pivots or pinions.
- Bent tooth on any gear.
- Minute wheel set too low and rubbing on the movement's top plate.
- Balance out of poise.
- Balance and/or fork out of beat.
- Locking system rubbing on the balance even though it is in the unlocked position.
- Balance mounted either too high or too low causing rubbing friction.
- Twisted or kinked suspension spring.
- Broken suspension spring.
- Broken mainspring.
- Fork position as it related to the roller is misaligned. (Fork position too high, too low, fork tines too closed, too open, fork too deep, too shallow, etc.)
- Dirty roller and/or fork tines. (2 "fingers").
- Clock not level.
- Household temperature not varying by 5 degrees or more per day.
- A friend or incompetent "repair" person recently worked on it.
The following reasons are extremely rare:
- Minute hand not poised.
- Hour hand not poised.
- Bent arbors or pivots.
- Bent tooth on any gear.
- Scored pivots or pinions.
- Broken pivot(s). (The last two of this group are the only ones I have seen)
Who Does the Work?
It should be known that ALL work is done in house and by me personally.Return to Index
The exceptions are bellows refilling, dial refinishing and case refinishing. These are done by professionals who specialize in this type of work and I do not "give up" their names because it took many trials to finally come up with good professionals for these services.
What you need to do if you sent the Atmos to me for an overhaulAssuming you sent the Atmos my way for an overhaul, then you must make sure that the clock is packaged properly and the balance is locked. Instructions on locking the balance can be found at: Locking the balance. If you cannot lock the balance then don't go to any extremes in order to do so because the balance locking device will be working properly when the Atmos is returned. Please see the link above about Shipping & Turnaround for proper packaging. Please make sure you have your name, address, phone number, and E-mail address are somewhere in either box. The address must be the physical location you want me to return your overhauled Atmos. If you plan on going to a shipping store, then please write or print the information on a file card or something similar so that the person packing the Atmos can include that information along with the clock. A big help would be to include the tracking # in your E-mail to inform me that your Atmos is on its way. The reason is that I want to make sure that I'm here to receive your Atmos so it spends as few days in a truck or warehouse as possible. Return to Index Accuracy of This Web Page For whatever reason, I get asked if the above Web site is up to date and accurate. If and when anything about my business practices, prices, or policies changes, the first thing I do is update this Web page regardless of the "last updated" date that appears at the bottom. In other words, if you are viewing this Web page for the first time and/or have hit the "refresh" on your browser, you can be assured that all the information is accurate and completely up to date. Return to Index Respectfully, Michael P. Murray A service from, E-mail address: Mike@atmos-man.com Mike Murray Founder of Clocksmiths A specialist in Atmos and 400-day clock repair. Also, I overhaul most A/C electric clocks. In continuous service since 04/01/1982. Mike's Clock Clinic Membership: NAWCC 1600 Maryland Avenue Myrtle Point, OR 97458-1508 Phone: 541-559-1090, or 877-286-6762 My Web site is located at http://www.atmosman.com/ Main FTP site is located at http://home.earthlink.net/~atmosman/earthpdf.html Memberships: Clocksmiths; NAWCC N.A.W.C.C. International 400-day Clock Chapter # 168 Formally published in Chapter 168's "Torsion Times" Formally published in AWCI's "Horological Times" Formally AWCI's 400-day (Anniversary) clock Bench Course Instructor! Back to Mike's Clock Clinic's Main Web Page
Return to Index Copyright © 1995-2018 Michael P. Murray & Mike's Clock Clinic
Created in December of 1995 and last updated January 02, 2018.
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