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The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:06 pm
by Bart Stewart
Here's one that I don't think we have ever discussed.

I've known various people over years, including two relatives, who insist they cannot wear wrist watches because they invariably stop working after a short period of time. No these are not jack-hammer operators, just regular folks who say that they have given up on wrist watches after multiple failed attempts to find a one that will function on their wrist. The implication is that close contact with the person is causing the mechanism to fail.

It is interesting on a few different counts. One is that, while I have no statistics on this, I seem to recall several people over the years making this claim, and often saying that they know of other people who have the same problem. It makes me wonder how widespread this is. Secondly, I have never seen it mentioned in any of the paranormalist literature or TV shows. I am always more interested in mysteries in which nobody is making a profit on it. Also, unlike transient phenomena (ghosts and UFOs) this one involves something solid - a watch that won't work. And apparently it could be replicated, as these people are saying watches just don't work on them. On the psychological side, the people I know who make the claim seem strangely accepting of this bizarre situation. They shrug it off.

I have wondered if perspiration could be involved. If not excessive perspiration, could it be a mineral or chemical in their sweat that is getting into the watch and gumming it up? Seems unlikely, but not as much as exotic energy fields. One claim I have heard is that magnetic fields are to blame. So are there people who have trouble keeping other mechanisms working in contact with their body? How about pacemakers and artificial hearts?

Just another little mystery to solve. I suppose it could all be imaginary, except that these folks would prefer to know what time it is, but they can't wear a watch.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:03 am
by OlegTheBatty
Every watch I ever had, cheap or expensive, lost 50 seconds a day, give or take a couple seconds. I have no idea why.
The last one, i invented a suitable ritual for, then threw it into the chuck at high tide. More than 30 years ago, and I haven't worn a watch since. I rarely missed having one. Now my cell keeps time inaccurately instead. (But it gains a few seconds a day).

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:50 am
by Gord
My mother is one of those people who "can't wear a wristwatch." Personally, I think it's more likely that some people are just...dumb. They do something to the watches, like smack them on doorknobs.

Just my own thoughts, nothing with any evidence whatsoever. But the same people who can't wear watches seem to be the same people who believe in people who claim they can divine water with a forked stick.

My own digital watch gains time. I gave up on resetting it, a few years ago. It's right now approximately 38 minutes fast. The thing about digital watches is, when they made those claims about them being accurate to within one second per year, they meant in relation to themselves, not to other watches. For instance, if my watch turns out to be 30 seconds slow per year, it will only vary by within one second -- 29 to 31 secons slow per year. That's the variation they used to advertise. People never understood it, which led to more sales...until they figured out that THEIR watches were never as accurate as they thought they'd been advertised to be. Now everyone thinks digital watches are highly inaccurate instead.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:21 pm
by bigtim
Bart Stewart wrote:...I've known various people over years, including two relatives, who insist they cannot wear wrist watches because they invariably stop working after a short period of time. No these are not jack-hammer operators, just regular folks who say that they have given up on wrist watches after multiple failed attempts to find a one that will function on their wrist. The implication is that close contact with the person is causing the mechanism to fail.


I and my grandmother are two of these people. I can't wear them. Doesn't matter how carefully I try to take care of them they end up freezing and just stop working after about a week. Digital watches are fine, no problem. The clockworks stop, even if they're run by a battery.

At one point I tried pocket watches. They lasted longer, but after about a month they'd feeze up too.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:05 pm
by Aztexan
Sometimes when I am driving at night, streetlights tend to burn out just as I am approaching them. It happens more often than I care to remember. I could easily chalk it up to special powers that I possess, but the truth is, it's just one of those things that happens. No relation whatsoever.
But I did know a chick in high school who was so ugly, *someone shouts, "how ugly was she?"* her face could stop a clock.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:48 pm
by Bart Stewart
bigtim wrote:
Bart Stewart wrote:...I've known various people over years, including two relatives, who insist they cannot wear wrist watches because they invariably stop working after a short period of time. No these are not jack-hammer operators, just regular folks who say that they have given up on wrist watches after multiple failed attempts to find a one that will function on their wrist. The implication is that close contact with the person is causing the mechanism to fail.


I and my grandmother are two of these people. I can't wear them. Doesn't matter how carefully I try to take care of them they end up freezing and just stop working after about a week. Digital watches are fine, no problem. The clockworks stop, even if they're run by a battery.

At one point I tried pocket watches. They lasted longer, but after about a month they'd feeze up too.


Great, somebody here has first hand knowledge of this. (What are the odds of that?)So what's your theory on it? Why would perfectly good watch mechanisms stop on some people and not others?

The bit about digital watches running fine is interesting. I'd almost think it would be the reverse. When your watches stop, are they usable again for someone else or are they kaput? You have to admit it's an interesting topic, and sounds like some ot this exotic energy stuff that we routinely read about around here. I tend to think there is a logical explanation but I don't know what it is.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:11 pm
by Aztexan
The watchmaker isn't blind, he just cuts corners and uses material that is less than high quality. And faulty workmanship is always a possibility.
These are not conclusions, just suggestions.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:45 am
by vanderpoel
One possibility is the human energy field which can affect electronics, but I have never heard that it can have an effect on mechanical devices.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:24 am
by Major Malfunction
Another possibility could be double amputees.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:42 pm
by JO 753
They could wear them on their ankles!

I have trouble with fonez. Granted, there are alot uv krappy fonez on the market, but I seem to find the worst no matter how carefully I shop. My dad also haz this 'talent'.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 2:46 pm
by Major Malfunction
Quadruple amputees?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:38 pm
by bigtim
Bart Stewart wrote:Great, somebody here has first hand knowledge of this. (What are the odds of that?)So what's your theory on it? Why would perfectly good watch mechanisms stop on some people and not others?

The bit about digital watches running fine is interesting. I'd almost think it would be the reverse. When your watches stop, are they usable again for someone else or are they kaput? You have to admit it's an interesting topic, and sounds like some ot this exotic energy stuff that we routinely read about around here. I tend to think there is a logical explanation but I don't know what it is.


Honestly, I don't know why. But, when the watches stop working they're dead, won't work for anyone. The "woo" answer would be that my body's electromagentic field magnetizes the clockwork mechanism of the watch.... but that's just as valid as saying that ghosts do it... or aliens... or Satan doesn't want me to have nice things...

I've never done any measurements of my body or conducted any control double-blind experiments on this... I just know that 100% of the clockwork watches I wore died.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:19 pm
by vanderpoel
bigtim wrote:
Bart Stewart wrote:Great, somebody here has first hand knowledge of this. (What are the odds of that?)So what's your theory on it? Why would perfectly good watch mechanisms stop on some people and not others?

The bit about digital watches running fine is interesting. I'd almost think it would be the reverse. When your watches stop, are they usable again for someone else or are they kaput? You have to admit it's an interesting topic, and sounds like some ot this exotic energy stuff that we routinely read about around here. I tend to think there is a logical explanation but I don't know what it is.


Honestly, I don't know why. But, when the watches stop working they're dead, won't work for anyone. The "woo" answer would be that my body's electromagentic field magnetizes the clockwork mechanism of the watch.... but that's just as valid as saying that ghosts do it... or aliens... or Satan doesn't want me to have nice things...

I've never done any measurements of my body or conducted any control double-blind experiments on this... I just know that 100% of the clockwork watches I wore died.

Could be youʻre just ahead of your time?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:40 am
by JO 753
Well, you can have a neck watch, but it woud be hard to see. And for guys....

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:42 am
by JO 753
I've never had a car with a working dashboard clock. I even stuck one of those big digit LCD clocks over the dead original equipment clock and that died in a few weeks.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:48 am
by Gord
JO 753 wrote:I've never had a car with a working dashboard clock. I even stuck one of those big digit LCD clocks over the dead original equipment clock and that died in a few weeks.

Are you Rod Blagojevich?? :donkey:

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:46 pm
by JO 753
I don't get the connection. Must hav missed some Blago news.

I did live close to him 17 years ago!

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:39 am
by Gord
Nah, I just sometimes make weird connections.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:49 pm
by andrewc
Hello - I have a similar thing that I don't understand at all. When I wear mechanical watches, they don't keep correct time. My first experience of this was when I was in junior school - my mum bought me a wristwatch and it would lose or gain time (in terms of hours a day) whenever I wore it. My mum kept in on her for a few days and it was fine. When I wore it again, it wouldn't do as it was supposed to do. This has happened on other occasions with other watches, including pocket watches.
The odd thing is I can wear digital or quartz watches with no issues whatsoever. So the theory that my electrical/magnetic field that my body generates affects mechanical watches doesn't make sense to me. Surely an electrically powered watch would be more affected by such, rather than a clockwork watch. I certainly don't have any 'magic' powers nor think I can do psychic actions. I do find this baffling, but there must be a rational explanation for this - anyone got one?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:28 pm
by Gord
Maybe you just swing your wrist in an unusual way.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course....

I'm skeptical of all these "my watches don't work" anecdotes. Hasn't anyone done any studies on this? I think it would make an interesting experiment. 8-)

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:57 pm
by Martin Brock
Never heard of this syndrome before. If these people can't wear any wristwatch, mechanical or electronic, analog or digital, self-winding or battery powered, then I suppose it's mostly psychological. I don't see how any characteristic of an individual (profuse sweating or whatever) could affect all of these watches similarly.

Wristwatches, especially the cheap ones I buy at Walmart, presumably have a significant failure rate, and some people are just unlucky. Suppose one out of ten watches fails after a few weeks or months. Then for one out of a thousand people, the first three watches they buy will fail. These people just give up at that point and count themselves among the jinxed. If you know only a few dozen people, the odds of knowing at least one of these "jinxed" people is quite high, but the only thing you're observing is random watch failure.

It's an instance of the "birthday problem".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_paradox

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:07 pm
by Paul
Martin Brock wrote:Never heard of this syndrome before. If these people can't wear any wristwatch, mechanical or electronic, analog or digital, self-winding for battery powered, then I suppose it's mostly psychological. I don't see how any characteristic of an individual (profuse sweating or what have you) could affect all of these watches similarly.

It's also possible that wristwatches have a significant failure rate, and some people are just unlucky. Suppose one out of ten watches fails after a few weeks or months. Then for one out of a thousand people, the first three watches they buy will fail. These people just give up at that point and count themselves among the jinxed.


The claim is more common then people think. However, the scientific explanation is, there is no such real phenomena. If such a claim were true, what do you call it. Where is the documentation.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:09 am
by Gord
Paul59 wrote:If such a claim were true, what do you call it. Where is the documentation.

It's being covered up by Big Watchmakers?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:56 am
by andrewc
I might swing my wrist in an unusual way (tho' that sounds like a euphemism for something) but I don't think that can apply to a pocket watch - I am no belly dancer and frankly am too lazy to gyrate through my day. I thought modern clockwork was generally more shock proof to be affected by 'normal' movement - but I'm no watchmaker, so am going on information that is supplied.
I'm more than happy to wear an electronic watch at the the same time as a clockwork one and show the results (if any) after a certain period - but it wouldn't be scientific and would be way too easy to fake results without independent supervision. I'm not hugely concerned by this apparent phenomenon, as I can wear timepieces that aren't clockwork - but I was just interested in why such a thing could happen.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:54 pm
by Gord
I am also interested in it.

...but that doesn't mean I won't make fun of it, too. :lol:

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:55 pm
by andrewc
Oh absolutely - I would. If I could prove it was so, I'd make loads of money - until then I'm just a freak with no proof of my claims.
It's also not even much of a superpower - not exactly worth getting a costume for nor much purpose in fighting crime. Mildy affecting timepiece man? Not exactly gonna strike fear into the hearts of criminals...

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:49 pm
by OlegTheBatty
andrewc wrote:Oh absolutely - I would. If I could prove it was so, I'd make loads of money - until then I'm just a freak with no proof of my claims.
It's also not even much of a superpower - not exactly worth getting a costume for nor much purpose in fighting crime. Mildy affecting timepiece man? Not exactly gonna strike fear into the hearts of criminals...


Mmmmmm ... but Mildly affecting timepiece girl might be worthy of a superhero costume.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:38 am
by Gord
OlegTheBatty wrote:
andrewc wrote:Oh absolutely - I would. If I could prove it was so, I'd make loads of money - until then I'm just a freak with no proof of my claims.
It's also not even much of a superpower - not exactly worth getting a costume for nor much purpose in fighting crime. Mildy affecting timepiece man? Not exactly gonna strike fear into the hearts of criminals...


Mmmmmm ... but Mildly affecting timepiece girl might be worthy of a superhero costume.


You're both missing the obvious name: Clockstopper.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 3:03 am
by OlegTheBatty
Gord wrote:
OlegTheBatty wrote:
andrewc wrote:Oh absolutely - I would. If I could prove it was so, I'd make loads of money - until then I'm just a freak with no proof of my claims.
It's also not even much of a superpower - not exactly worth getting a costume for nor much purpose in fighting crime. Mildy affecting timepiece man? Not exactly gonna strike fear into the hearts of criminals...


Mmmmmm ... but Mildly affecting timepiece girl might be worthy of a superhero costume.


You're both missing the obvious name: Clockstopper.


Awwww, c'mon now Gord, what woman would want to be known as the face that could stop clock?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 3:22 am
by Gord
OlegTheBatty wrote:
Gord wrote:
OlegTheBatty wrote:
andrewc wrote:Oh absolutely - I would. If I could prove it was so, I'd make loads of money - until then I'm just a freak with no proof of my claims.
It's also not even much of a superpower - not exactly worth getting a costume for nor much purpose in fighting crime. Mildy affecting timepiece man? Not exactly gonna strike fear into the hearts of criminals...


Mmmmmm ... but Mildly affecting timepiece girl might be worthy of a superhero costume.


You're both missing the obvious name: Clockstopper.


Awwww, c'mon now Gord, what woman would want to be known as the face that could stop clock?

Your mother? :P

Okay okay okay.... How about The Anti-Watchmen?
Counterclockwise?
Stopwatch?
Time Bandit?
Temporal Tamperer?
Timeout?
Zero Hour?
Lateman?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:23 pm
by OlegTheBatty
Gord wrote:
OlegTheBatty wrote:
Gord wrote:
OlegTheBatty wrote:
andrewc wrote:Oh absolutely - I would. If I could prove it was so, I'd make loads of money - until then I'm just a freak with no proof of my claims.
It's also not even much of a superpower - not exactly worth getting a costume for nor much purpose in fighting crime. Mildy affecting timepiece man? Not exactly gonna strike fear into the hearts of criminals...


Mmmmmm ... but Mildly affecting timepiece girl might be worthy of a superhero costume.


You're both missing the obvious name: Clockstopper.


Awwww, c'mon now Gord, what woman would want to be known as the face that could stop clock?

Your mother? :P

Okay okay okay.... How about The Anti-Watchmen?
Counterclockwise?
Stopwatch?
Time Bandit?
Temporal Tamperer?
Timeout?
Zero Hour?
Lateman?

Dyschronia?

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:36 pm
by andrewc
I like the idea of Lateman and can just picture the scene..

"Stop, miscreants! I'm here to dispense justi.... where the hell are the criminals? - Dammit, I've missed them again... Oh well, I'll go to the shops - I've just got time before they close"

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:34 pm
by Martin Brock
Another possibility is something like Münchausen syndrome by proxy. The afflicted destroy their own watches, consciously or unconsciously, because they like the idea of being uniquely "cursed" in this way. Some people could also have habits destructive to wrist watches, like swinging a hammer all day, that they don't associate with watch failure.

But random chance still seems the most likely "cause".

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:39 pm
by Gord
Martin Brock wrote:Some people could also have habits destructive to wrist watches, like swinging a hammer all day, that they don't associate with watch failure.


Or the way they open doors. Maybe they turn their knobs the wrong way.

But random chance still seems the most likely "cause".


Random chance and doorknobs -- the doom of modern society. I could write a book! :mrgreen:

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:45 am
by Paul
quote="andrewc"I might swing my wrist in an unusual way (tho' that sounds like a euphemism for something) but I don't think that can apply to a pocket watch -

No it is not a euphemism. You are implying a choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities. Can you rule out any mundane explanation. If you don’t believe it can apply to a pocket watch then why not. You have to explain “why” . without an explanation it is no more then wishful thinking, confirmation bias, self-deception. In short, is a way people justify false beliefs with out evidence.
I am no belly dancer and frankly am too lazy to gyrate through my day. I thought modern clockwork was generally more shock proof to be affected by 'normal' movement - but I'm no watchmaker, so am going on information that is supplied.

Do you really believe the human body can cause electronic impulses to interfere with certain types of watches. The theory which really doesn’t make it to the first stage of a theory stops dead in it’s tracks when you apply a little logic and common sense. It is necessary to look for all alternate explanations, before accepting one as valid. If a person is unaware there could be alternate explanations they will be unable to discern the truth of falsehood of a claim, and this is where the skeptical method is critical. For the premise of any claim to be proven correct, the viable alternate explanations have to be ruled out.
Do we have an alternate explanation? Yes.
Is the alternate explanation plausible? Yes.
I'm more than happy to wear an electronic watch at the the same time as a clockwork one and show the results (if any) after a certain period - but it wouldn't be scientific and would be way too easy to fake results without independent supervision. I'm not hugely concerned by this apparent phenomenon, as I can wear timepieces that aren't clockwork - but I was just interested in why such a thing could happen.

To establish the probability of a causal connection between two events, controls must be established to rule out other factors such as chance or some unknown causal factor

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:55 pm
by andrewc
Paul59 - I was stating the difference between wearing a watch on my wrist, which would get more movement as it would be on my arm, rather than a pocket watch which would be in my pocket, therefore would not get moved by my actions as much as a wrist watch. My arms generally move more than my torso. Does that explain why?

I also should have explained the use of the word 'shock' in reference to watches. When a clockwork watch states that it is shockproof, it is referring to impact, rather than electricity. You do know that the word 'shock' can be applied to many different things, not just electricity, I hope. Also that early clockwork watches were affected by movement, impacts or 'shock' and as technology improved in the making of watches one of the ways to demonstrate this was to state that watch was shockproof.

I do not really believe that the human body can cause electronic impulses to interfere with certain types of watches. I specifically stated in an earlier post that 'the theory that my electrical/magnetic field that my body generates affects mechanical watches doesn't make sense to me'. I should have stated that this is not my theory. I have had acquaintances who have claimed this, and it seems ridiculous to me.

I'm perfectly happy to accept that it is just coincidence - I do not think I have any particularly extreme electronic impulses that could affect a timepiece.

Is there anything else you'd like to patronise me on?

Oh, and my comment about the euphemism was an attempt at a humourous statement - I will label such next time to avoid confusion.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:18 pm
by Gord
andrewc wrote:Is there anything else you'd like to patronise me on?


I know this watch thing is possible, because I've met people who can't wear stripes, either. Gotta be something similar going on there. Gotta be!

Oh, and my comment ... was an attempt at a humourous statement - I will label such next time to avoid confusion.


But if we have to label them, they're not funny anymore! :frown:

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:00 pm
by andrewc
Cool - I can wear stripes so I'll get a stripey watch and that should work then. :D
I actually reckon I'm just too active for cheap clockworks (tho' my mum swears that she bought me a good watch - would you buy a child a good watch?), so I should either buy an expensive watch, which aint gonna happen - or I get a job as a watch tester.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:08 pm
by Gord
andrewc wrote:or I get a job as a watch tester.

Omigodomigodomidog! They HAVE those?!? That job would be perfect for me!!

I could wear thirty watches at once. Everywhere I went, people would ask me for the time of day, and I would give it to them. Then I could point out which watches were working well -- ooooh, all those W's in one sentence! *squeee!*

But my point is: Nice work if you can get it.

Re: The People Who Can't Wear Watches

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:34 pm
by andrewc
Well, Gord, you inspired me to look and see if there was such a job.

No, there isn't. Instead there are machines that do such a thing - damn robots, coming into being, taking our non-existent jobs...

I remember reading a book (but unfortunately not the title) about the early portable timepieces where watches were (now that's spooky - this thread makes one use 'W's a lot - (Paul59 - sorry, I'm joking about the spooky bit - it's just a coincidence, I know, so please don't essay me to death)) taken on voyages to test the accuracy - I'd have thought that being lost at sea 'cos of the inaccuracy of a clock would be fairly risky, but then I guess compared to the risk of scurvy, pirates and monsters of the deep a watch going doolally wasn't that big a deal. So if you want to be a watch tester, you'll need to get your time machine ordered, I'm afraid.