I get a number of catalogs. Probably because I do occasionally buy from them, and the merchandisers share their mailing list with others. When they arrive in the mail I scan them briefly and then file them in the circular file. The other day I was going through one and stopped on a page showing atomic watches. I had heard of atomic clocks, but watches were new to me. One particular watch interested me to the point that I finally sprung for it. It was a talking atomic watch. Pressing various buttons would give the time, the day and month, and could be set as an alarm clock. Having a convenient alarm clock on my wrist would allow me to take naps that don’t go on longer than they should. It also automatically adjusted itself for changes in daylight saving times. And with a little help from the owner (choosing the time zone), would automatically set for different time zones. A few days ago the clock finally arrived with a mini textbook on atomic watches. It became evident that using an atomic watch required a rocket scientist. What was really a surprise was the size of the watch. The illustration in the catalog was of the dial straight on. It was just what I like. Big Arabic numerals and an analog display. Of course I realized that the watch was really of the digital variety, but with mechanisms to make it appear as an analog watch. The catalog didn’t show what I consider a side view of the watch. When I held the watch in my hand and noticed the thickness of it I figured I had been had. I would never have purchased it if I knew how thick it is. When I walk now I tend to lean to the left. Here is something like the illustration in the catalog: atomic-002.jpg Here is what wasn’t shown:  


I should have known that a watch with speaker, amplifier, radio, and the regular workings of a digital watch, and whatever else is needed to make it an atomic watch doesn’t come 1/8 inch high like some fancy watches that are illustrated in the catalogs. 

So now to the atomic saga. I knew before hand that atomic clocks get their time signal from a government bureau of standards in Boulder Colorado, and from the blurbs about them that they are constantly getting a radio signal updating the time to the closest second. Theoretically that may be true (and maybe not!), if you live near Fort Collins Colorado where the radio signal originates. I say “maybe not”, because reading between the lines in the mini text, it may be that the signal is only broadcast at one hour intervals. Anyway, for a watch you can’t get continuous updates regardless, because to receive the signal the watch can not be moving. Further, the signal is strongest at night so that is when the effort should be made to try and update it. Updating instruction consist of placing the watch face down on a nonmetallic surface, preferably a wooden window sill, and certainly not near any electronic gear. The 12 numeral should be pointed toward Fort Collins Colorado and be left over night. Next morning, by pressing one of the buttons on the side of the watch, a message tells you if the update worked. If not the instructions say to try another location. I don’t think that is constantly being updated. In between the times you choose to up date the watch, you basically have a thick digital watch. 

Battery replacement is something else. The text states that the owner should not attempt to replace the battery himself. It may be replaced by a qualified jeweler, and if so take along the text for the jeweler to use to reset the time. That is about three pages in the text. Or you can send the watch with a check for $15.00 to the manufacturer. But here is the real Kicker! In the battery replacement chapter is a chart giving approximate replacement frequencies. If one never uses any of the talking functions the battery last about two years. Five requests per day, one year, ………. twenty five requests per day, four months.  My suggestion, if the idea of an atomic watch interests you, is to go to get the exact time to the second and set your regular watch. That is how the text tells you to check if your update worked, if you don’t want to use the talking function.  

Anyone want an atomic watch cheap?


  1. RubeRad said,

    October 29, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    If it was really atomic, it wouldn’t need batteries — it would have its own nuclear reaction to provide power!

  2. setty said,

    October 30, 2007 at 1:57 am

    Actually, the manufacturer doesn’t call it an atomic watch. It is called a “radio controlled analog talking watch” The catalogs refer to them as atomic watches, because the accuracy of the time is established by the atomic resonance frequency of cesium gas, and as a matter of fact clocks which acces the time by radio from the bureau of standards are universally called atomic clocks.

  3. RubeRad said,

    October 30, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Good thing it’s not really atomic, because you’d have a hard time getting through airport security

  4. setty said,

    October 31, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Probably not an issue.
    I am getting so air travel is too taxing for me. Barbara wants to try to get the family together in CA next summer, and I am thinking of asking for a wheel chair so I can get thru security without a hassle.

  5. RubeRad said,

    November 1, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    I’m sure you can get one, as long as you can resist the urge to jump up and start dancing. Then for sure they’d know they’ve been had!

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