When Is A Watch Not A Watch?

When is a watch not a watch?

When is a watch not a watch?

There’s something about a certain type of selling that really gets my goat.  It’s the really well written, apparently credible, charismatic selling that shows itself in marketing brochures and various collateral online or in print. Mostly this happens where the commercial entity that seeks to benefit is well-funded.  They can employ the best marketing people and get the best writers.

To people like me, and I hope, you, the marketing speak comes over as a cloud of bullshit arrows, words desperately devoid of facts and trying to strike home between whatever neurones aren’t paying close attention.

For example:

Philip Stein has recently introduced its first Automatic timepiece with Swiss movement, its unique e-tailing program that includes profit sharing for local retailers from online sales and the opening of the company’s first store in the Americas. For a complete history of Philip Stein or technical information related to natural frequencies or the new Natural Frequency Disc, please visit www.PhilipStein.com.

Oh, hold on.  Did someone mention frequencies?  Oh yes.  Get ready for it.  It’s the latest solution to the everyday stresses and strains that YOU can’t cope with.  It reduces stress, increases how quickly you get to sleep, increases how well you feel AFTER you’ve slept and makes you have better dreams.

How does it do this?  Well it’s all about the insert.  Each watch is thoughtfully imbued with an additional piece of metal that has been “infused with key frequencies in a proprietary process”.

The metal fits into the back of the watch and Hey Presto, your biofield is constantly being readjusted to align itself with the earth’s “natural frequency” of around 7.83 hertz.

There is no reason given why the persons wrist, sans watch, is not close enough to the earth to “benefit” from adjustment.  And what could possibly be causing the devastating problems that are solved by this device? Problems like:

  • Stress
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Anxiety

That’s right, nothing too specific.  Just regular stuff that everyone gets from time to time.  Sound familiar?  A bit like Barnum statements in cold reading?  Yes, that’s what I thought too.  But what could possibly be causing these terrible symptoms?  More later.

I wanted to know how they “work”.  So I went searching for answers.  First, the given frequency of 7.83 Hertz.  What is it, and where did they get that number from?

Here’s what they say:

“…beneficial key frequency of 7-9 hertz, which encompasses the chief resonant frequency of the natural earth and is a frequency that is harmonious and grounding to life”


So you can go to the main website at www.philipstein.com.  Here you will be assailed by a barrage of pseudoscience hocus pocus.  It’s very slick and is the sort of site that leaves me cold. Complete bollocks convincingly written.

But you could equally go to http://www.philipsteinreviews.com where you encounter a site that is registered to a marketing agency and aims to give off an initial impression of being a genuine blogger.  There’s a large number of articles that have been written over a period of time from a little over a year ago right up to now. But scroll to the bottom, and you see that the copyright of this site belongs to Philip Stein.

It’s another triumph of marketing over substance.  The product actually makes fairly modest claims, when you look into it.  But they swing a bigger bat, if you see what I mean.  Therefore reinforcing the pattern of a fashion/lifestyle item having its claims over egged. Consider the celebrity endorsers who number many including Madonna, Oprah…loads of them.  They can’t possibly have looked into this revolutionary technology very deeply because surely they’d spot how heavy the marketing makeover is?

Back to the “science”.  I’m taking both websites as a source. The frequencies are emitted via a chip, formerly two chips, that insert into the watch.  The chip has been infused with the key frequency through a “proprietary process”.  No further detail is given on how that is done, but luckily there is a radiating wave pattern embossed on the chip to reassure you.

The old and new chip arrangements are described thus:

“…Electromagnetic Frequency technology utilizing electromagnetic fields, introduced in 2003, and Natural Frequency Technology, introduced in 2008.”

Cutting through the pink and fluffy stuff, they make the same claims about both of these.  The key difference seems to be that someone else was producing the chips and then they switched to self production.

So how are they supposed to work?

“Both technologies work within the same beneficial key frequency of 7-9 hertz, which encompasses the chief resonant frequency of the natural earth and is a frequency that is harmonious and grounding to life.”

Fair enough then.  A little research reveals that Nikola Tesla discovered this frequency range, confirmed 50 or so years later by research and called the Schumann  Resonance.

Essentially, the resonance is a kind of background electro-magnetic signal created by lightning activity all over the world.  The signal produced by this activity is captured in the space between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere, where the ionosphere is a kind of lid for this electro magnetic cookware.  There are around 2000 electrical storms happening around the world at any given time and the global variance can be measured.

Tesla discovered this initially back at the start of the century but it was mathematically described by Schumann.

Human Biofield

Frequency Technology? It's a watch!

So the chip which is “infused” with the “Earths natural frequency”

“When worn on the wrist, the watch exposes frequencies and information to the biofield of the person wearing it.”

“Biofield?  What’s that?” I hear you cry.  Well the rather pedestrian truth is that this, like so much other pseudo science revolves around vitalism.  The idea that you have an external energy field which can be disrupted. Like homeopathy or acupuncture or reiki or crystals etc etc.  But this chip apparently keeps you vibrating at the right frequency.

“The biofield, which is the Master energy field that regulates the body’s functions, informs the body to relax, and in doing so, the person becomes more resistant and resilient to stress.”

Where do the alleged disturbances come from?  You guessed it, all of the electrical devices and other electrical consumer items which are causing so much damage to everyone…not!

“When wearing a Philip Stein frequency watch you are more in harmony with natural earth, centered and grounded… all of which creates a better and healthier “you””

As if we needed further convincing that this is pseudo science, the appeal to authority on the http://www.philipsteinreviews.com website comes from Andrija Puharich, who is notable for having been Uri Geller’s biographer!

So look at the marketing machine behind all of this hocus pocus, and what you have are watches that make no particular claim of manufacturing excellence, that are a fashion item and whose chief claim is that they stop your computer interfering with your brain

Tinfoil hats all over again.  But they cost hundreds, or thousands of pounds…

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  1. #1 by Michael on February 13, 2010 - 14:26


    It is a load of crap. ‘Imbued frequency’ is bollocks ‘cos it would be wiped out if you went near a mains outlet socket (50Hz). Which everyone does. The ticking of the watch (movement) would also wipe it out to 1 Hz. People, like Madonna and Oprah, are stupid and will endorse anything for money, or a free watch.

  2. #2 by Jon d on February 13, 2010 - 14:56

    Sounds like pure b/s to me but it gets worse, alarmingly their claims are supposedly backed by a randomised, double-blind, placebo control clinical trial http://uk.philipstein.com/Natural-Frequency-Technology-Clinical-Trial-Results-aspx
    Which is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to accurately show the effectiveness or otherwise of any treatment (if properly conducted). Bad news if you want to argue against pseudo treatments because they fail exactly the sort of trial it’s claimed the magic watches pass. What can we do to stop quacks stealing phrases like ‘randomised, double blind, placebo control clinical trial’ and debasing the currency of proper medical research?

  3. #3 by Jon d on February 13, 2010 - 18:45

    Come to think of it doncha think it’s terribly irresponsible to build such a powerful and clinically proven sleep inducer into an everyday item like a watch? Perhaps we should be writing to our Mp’s about the dangers of drivers and aircraft pilots being sent to sleep by their wristwatches?
    More seriously does the ASA have any jurisdiction over websites?

  4. #4 by Mark Jaquith on December 26, 2010 - 05:26

    Jon d — Read the study. Here’s a choice quote:

    While the current overall results are not statistically significant, a substantial number of subjects demonstrated improvements in the measured individual sleep parameters.

    So the study says that the effect is not statistically significant. But then they try and say “but wait, if you look at some individual results, it worked for them!” Well yes, individual results will tend to differ from the overall trend. That’s why there is this branch of mathematics called statistics to determine what is significant and what isn’t.

    Or this:

    43% reported sleeping more total minutes when using both the NFT and SleepNFT than placebo

    They had 28 people in the study. So 12 people reported sleeping more minutes. And what about the other 16? We don’t talk about those people.

    So no, the study, even if it was as rigorously administered, does not bear out their claims. The study itself (which they commissioned) admits as much!

    I have a better idea. Instead of strapping an $800 piece of stamped copper to your wrist, take a copper penny from your pocket and put it under your pillow. I’m willing to bet that somewhere around 50% of the time, you’ll sleep more restfully than average.

(will not be published)