Things you should know when buying a second-hand Atmos clocks


I am assuming that you want to buy a second-hand Atmos clock. They definetly offer good value but you have no guarantees from Jaeger LeCoultre.

Based on my experience as a repairer, I give you my personal views to help you make your choice and choose what level of risk you are prepared to take on the more common models Link to models


Cal 540   This seems to have become the most sought after model, in fact it regularly fetches the highest price. It is the latest model, but it has been in production since the 80's. Jaeger LeCoultre have made radical modification to the mechanism to improve its performance, but the reality is that not all the clocks perform equally as well, some do perform very well, but some perform very poorly, some require servicing much more often than the old calibers, and some can be very troublesome.

Because this is the youngest model you will find that the cal540 is vey likely to be in the best condition, cosmetically, but If the clock has been messed about it is going to be very expensive to repair.

If you want your clock to look shiny and new the cal 540 is going to be your best choice


Cal 526 & Cal 528    I have grouped these two together because mechanically they are identical.
These models span a period that goes from the 50's to the 80's

The difference lies in their cases:
The cal 526 has a swivel-type door, rouded-corners, smaller but very well proportioned dimensions.

the Cal 528 is larger in size, every part of the case is bigger, the corners pieces are very flat and broad and the front door comes completely out. the problem with this case is that at the corners, where the brass is sharply bent, tend to split (due to metal fatigue?)

Mechanicall they are sound and go very well. It is not unusual that a good service will keep the clock running for 30-40years. So if you can find one with the case still on good condition you can be sure that, once the movement is sorted out, it will not give you any trouble for a very long time.

Ideally you should avoid one with *not-dismantleable jewels(see Image), for the reason that If somebody has oiled them, it can make the repair more expensive.


Cal 519    This the oldest model that I would define as a commmon purchase proposition. Because of its age it is more difficult to find in good cosmetic condition. The case, in appearance, is very similar to the cal528, the difference is that to access the mechanism the whole top part of the case lifts off (Bell-Top).

Mechanically it is very good and performs just as well if not better than the cal526-528.

*In some of them the bellow is integral to the bellow case, which means that the bellow cannot be changed or repaired. The clock will need to be modified to take a normal gas bellow (see image). You can recognise it by looking at the back-plate where you can see the "gas nipple" prodruting through. In other words you have 4 bellow fixing nuts plus an extra protrusion.




Conclusion    My personal choice, if the clocks were all in equally good condition externally, would be the cal526. It has the perfect balance of good performance, a good case and well designed thoughout. Parts are reasonably easy to obtain even if this model is now obsolete.

*Just in case you follow my choice and you end up buying a cal526.............please, make sure that the front door is not missing.


I have nothing against the cal519 or cal528.

Keep in mind that it is going to be more difficult to find a cal 519 in good condition,

and for the 528, if you like its case and is in good condition, it is a good purchase.


If your heart is set on a cal540 and do not like to take chances, then my advice would be to buy it from an atmos specialist that would give you a guarantee.


Many will want to buy from the USA where the Atmos are more available, please be aware that you will incurr 20% VAT import duty, plus you will be charged admin and delivery fee in UK...............and if you have any problems, you are a long way away from the seller