The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?  (Read 78125 times)

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Why do watches stop when some people wear them?  It used to happen to me years ago, then all was well for a few decades.  Now it's happening again.  Two watches this week, both with fairly new batteries.  Darned frustrating.  What is it!!???[?][?][?]
« Last Edit: 19/05/2007 00:37:41 by ukmicky »


 

Offline pat

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #1 on: 28/04/2003 09:02:45 »
Brings new meaning to the term "Stop Watch" !

Sounds like the plot for your next online thriller...

Pat
 

Offline Exodus

  • Phileas Fogg
  • Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1471
  • Geology
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #2 on: 28/04/2003 10:57:00 »
An X File?....;)

Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem...
 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #3 on: 28/04/2003 14:44:36 »
Thanks, very helpful (the part about turning it into a plot line).  Good thing I have half a dozen watches.
 

Offline Lab Rat

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 54
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #4 on: 14/03/2013 16:57:52 »
Just sort of wanted to bring one back from the archives-it has not been posted in for almost 10 years!  It is a topic I have a little bit of information about, however.

My grandma supposedly used to do the same thing.  She could not wear a watch that used batteries.  The only type of watches she could wear were the types that wind up.  I think that it may have something to do with the electrical pulses in some people's bodies, but I'm not sure.
 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #5 on: 17/03/2013 21:38:08 »
Hi Lab Rat,

I'm inclined to agree that it has something to do with the electromagnetic part of us.  Did your Grandma have amalgam fillings?  Did she meditate?  Was she psychic?

Machines frequently misbehave near me, I'll step away and they will be fine.  Also streetlights sometimes turn on or off when I walk or drive under them. 
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8130
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #6 on: 18/03/2013 00:17:28 »
Did your Grandma have amalgam fillings?  Did she meditate?  Was she psychic?

More scientifically relevant questions ...

Did grandma's watches come free with packets of breakfast cereal ?,  ( i.e. cheap and consequently unreliable ).

Were the batteries fitted into grandma's watches from a batch which were past their use-by-date ? 

If grandma's memory was failing she could have a distorted impression of how long a watch battery lasted. Like Stephen Fry's anecdote about his very elderly aunt who said "It CAN'T be breakfast again.", ( the interval of how long had passed between similar events, be it  breakfasts or a watch batteries failing, seemed shorter than reality ).

... streetlights sometimes turn on or off when I walk or drive under them. 

If you asked the people who lived near the dodgy street-lamp they could tell you it malfunctions whether or not you are present.
« Last Edit: 18/03/2013 00:22:02 by RD »
 

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3366
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #7 on: 18/03/2013 13:58:40 »
... streetlights sometimes turn on or off when I walk or drive under them. 

If you asked the people who lived near the dodgy street-lamp they could tell you it malfunctions whether or not you are present.

Street lamps can cycle on an off due to natural causes (many do so when they get old).  I've noticed this effect, too, and it's still surprising enough that I usually take notice when it happens.  I might pass 50 street lamps on a walk, but I'll only remember the one or two that shut off as I approached them.  The effect is confirmation bias--that you only remember the few street lamps that turn off, not the vast majority that don't.

To scientifically test if this were the case, you'd have to take notes of the number that turned off vs. those that didn't as you walked under them, and compare that to statistics for street lamps when you weren't present. 
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8666
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
 

Offline JnA

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1093
  • Stunt Scientist
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #9 on: 18/03/2013 23:14:33 »
Why do watches stop when some people wear them?  It used to happen to me years ago, then all was well for a few decades.  Now it's happening again.  Two watches this week, both with fairly new batteries.  Darned frustrating.  What is it!!???[?][?][?]

sometimes watches can be manufactured faulty too
 

Offline majorminor

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 46
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #10 on: 01/04/2013 23:51:16 »
It is about time somebody answered this question. Excuse the pun.
tbh
I would say if there was electromagnetic  or electrical effect stronger in some people than in others, I think someone would have shown it scientifically by now.
 

Offline confusious says

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 38
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #11 on: 14/05/2013 21:55:45 »
Some people have an abnormally high amount of electricity in their bodies, it may also be static electricity.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #12 on: 14/05/2013 22:54:30 »
Some people have an abnormally high amount of electricity in their bodies, it may also be static electricity.
Yes, static electricity is usually generated the interaction of certain environments and clothing, shoes, carpets, etc., and dissipated by moisture, so some (less sweaty?) people might build and carry more static charge for longer than others. I don't know of any evidence that the person generates significant electricity biologically, other than tiny membrane depolarisations, nor any plausible mechanism for how it could be done. We don't work like electric eels.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1092
  • Thanked: 11 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #13 on: 15/05/2013 23:05:13 »
Another factor is how you fit the batteries. The lithium batteries fitted to watches last years... but only if you don't short them out with sweaty fingers. If you put the battery in badly you leave a conductive path between the two sides and that discharges the battery very quickly.

Also if the watch gets wet then that will end it. Sloshing a watch into water hard enough can bypass the seal, unless it's extremely high quality.
« Last Edit: 15/05/2013 23:06:46 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline Doodlesweaver

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #14 on: 05/08/2014 04:54:07 »
Ever since I was a child I've always "stopped" watches. Well all except for the motion propelled Rolex. Now I'm all grown up and a right brained scientist. Usually just use my iPhone for the time. Terrible time management skills. So I saw this cute watch. $5.00 for the watch but it was for the hospital auxiliary and reminds me of my grandmother's old watch. Naturally it stopped 15 minutes after I put it on. It's cheap, who knows how long it's been in the crate over on the way from the Far East, anyway. So, I go to Rite Aid to buy another battery. Works PERFECTLY! I am thrilled. Especially with my escape from that old wive's tale about "stopping" watches. Well that was maybe 11:45 am. By 2:15 pm the watch's second hand sadly ground down to a definitive halt within a few minute's time span.  :-\

So was my grandmother correct all those years ago when she said I always had and always would "stop" watches? She just told me some people were like that; don't sweat it, basically.  But in all seriousness isn't that one of the craziest things you've ever heard? What on earth would make me "stop" watches when other people don't? I don't sweat profusely. My electrolytes are normal. I don't often "shock" people when I touch them like some people always seem to do.

This is seriously the 7th or 8th watch I've stopped in my lifetime - all within just a few hours on putting the watch on my wrist, too. Never worked for more than a day.

Guess that means I *"NEED"* a perpetual motion one. LOL!

But in all seriousness I'd like to have some scientific explanation for why this keeps happening to me. Don't worry I'm going to buy a 10 pack of batteries for the watch, then take it to a jeweler, then if that doesn't work buy a few more higher quality battery time pieces just to PROVE to myself there's nothing wrong with me.

I suppose if you want to go with the "Boho," psychic theme I have always been an empath. But that's just because I'm right brained and am a product of both my environment and genetics.

Hmmm... This is a really stupid question but could the problem be that I wear the watches on my left arm???  Really reaching here!!

Well I sure am curious for any scientific words from on high. If that doesn't work I'm just going to go for the Rolex. I use my mom's at times and that thing never misses a beat. I could get a silver or two toned one.  But they're just so pretentious for what I want.

Well for now, at least, I'm on a quest to make this watch work for me!!! Any help SINCERELY appreciated!!! :)
 

Offline wolfekeeper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1092
  • Thanked: 11 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #15 on: 05/08/2014 12:19:19 »
Most people that have this pick a watch out of a drawer and put it on their wrist, and it runs... for a while.

The reason is temperature, your wrist is warmer, so the change in temperature is often enough to start it, and it may run for a while.

The two main things are lubrication and battery. Warming it up loosens the lubricant and it will often start working. The other is the battery, warming it up helps the chemical reaction that generates the power, and if the battery is a bit marginal it will often get enough power, temporarily, to run.

There's no magic to this, it's nothing to do with electrostatics or anything.

Or rather, there is a small amount of magic, your granny telling you you're special is the magic. Many magicians like Uri Geller tell people to get watches out of drawers and hold them in their hands and do magic incantations, wish hard etc. and lo and behold, they start up! But only because they get warm. And they won't keep going.
« Last Edit: 05/08/2014 12:21:25 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #16 on: 09/08/2014 22:19:41 »
wolfekeeper makes a good point. It's also worth bearing in mind that, if the unexpected stopping of a watch is rare but random, then, as with all random events, a few people will experience less such events than average, and a few people will experience more than average.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1092
  • Thanked: 11 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #17 on: 10/08/2014 00:14:04 »
So I saw this cute watch. $5.00 for the watch but it was for the hospital auxiliary and reminds me of my grandmother's old watch. Naturally it stopped 15 minutes after I put it on. It's cheap, who knows how long it's been in the crate over on the way from the Far East, anyway. So, I go to Rite Aid to buy another battery. Works PERFECTLY! I am thrilled. Especially with my escape from that old wive's tale about "stopping" watches. Well that was maybe 11:45 am. By 2:15 pm the watch's second hand sadly ground down to a definitive halt within a few minute's time span.  :-\
So in this case you bought a cheap watch, and you're amazed that it stopped working soon after you bought it?

Has it occurred to you that the watch is.. faulty?

The mechanism is a bit sticky or something; you put a fresh battery in it, it's got a bit of extra juice or something and so it runs for a while, but the motor is working extra hard, so the battery soon runs down. Or maybe the fault is in the electronics.

The point is there's something wrong with the watch.
 

Offline Sheppie

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #18 on: 14/08/2014 13:01:04 »
Doesn't it have something to do with personal magnetism? People have some magnetic field of their own and although
in most cases we just don't notice it all, some have it greater than others. My friend "turn's up" or "turn's down" street lights.
Whenever a street lantern is blinking, when Paulie passes by the thing with turn on or off. It's hilarious. So maybe you stop
watches? :)
 

Offline wolfekeeper

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1092
  • Thanked: 11 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #19 on: 14/08/2014 13:54:37 »
There's no such thing as personal magnetism. People are not magnetic.
 

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1441
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #20 on: 26/08/2014 00:31:01 »
Whenever a street lantern is blinking, when Paulie passes by the thing with turn on or off.
If the light is blinking, you'd expect it to turn on and off. You couldn't carry a magnet strong enough to affect the street light. Does Paulie attract paperclips?

If you really think your friend is special, compare what happens when he walks by with what happens when two other people walk by. Make sure each one passes separately at the same speed for the same time. Make careful notes of the on time and off time. Repeat ten times for each person. If Paulie's results are significantly different form the other two, you could both make a lot of money. I predict you won't even do the test, because you don't really believe it.
« Last Edit: 26/08/2014 00:33:11 by dlorde »
 

Offline Cajsa

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #21 on: 05/10/2014 10:55:26 »
My dad and I have both stopped watches all our lives. I have tried Timex, Bulova, Swatch and several other brands of watches - all brand new. All of them have stopped within six hours of wearing them the first time. By the time I was old enough to remember, my dad was carrying a pocket watch in a pouch.

One idea my dad had that might explain it is electrical resistance. He was a mechanic and would test spark plugs with an ohmmeter. Most people holding the two clips of the ohmmeter will not move very much at all. It will stay in the left side in the green. Both my dad and I, when holding the ohmmeter make the dial go all the way to the right into the red. That does not measure magnetism, merely electrical resistance. I have no idea why that would stop watches, but it seems as reasonable as any other theory I have heard and certainly more likely than some sort of force field or the kooky "near death experience" explanation.

Yeah, some people suggest that people who stop watches have had near death experiences. Through pure coincidence, my dad had one when he was 12 and I had one when I was 4. However, I cannot think of one single reason that would have any effect on watches. That's just kooky.
 

Offline debrajonz

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #22 on: 10/02/2016 19:51:40 »
When I was 12, in 1967, my grandmother gave me a very nice wind-up style pendant watch. I wore it on several occasions, but each time I did, it stopped running shortly after I put it on, despite careful winding. Each time my mother said I must have broken it, and put it away, but after a few months she would give it back, and I would try again. She herself could wear it and it would behave just fine for her. I finally stopped asking for it and just let her have it. A few years later I was given a wind-up wristwatch, and I experienced the same problem, so I gave up trying to wear a watch. When I was 20, my mother-in-law noticed I didn't wear a watch, and bought one for me from the gift shop while she was in the hospital - another wind-up type. I told her that I appreciated the thought, and explained the problem, and urged her to get her money back. Thinking I was crazy, she told one of her nurses the story. As it happened, that nurse confirmed my story, because she had a sister with the same problem, and the nurse even had a solution. She stuck a piece of rubber- backed surgical tape to the back of the watch. My mother-in-law gave it back to me, and it never gave me any trouble, except when the tape bagan to curl up from wear. However, when I stuck fresh tape on, it worked just fine again. It worked well for me for years, until my first battery powered watch. Battery watches will work on me OK, but the batteries don't last very long. As of a few years ago I have given up on watches and now I just refer to my Android phone for the time.
 

Offline dhjdhj

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 78
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #23 on: 10/02/2016 21:21:51 »
One simple reason watches of all kinds stop is that people tend to wear them too tightly. A watch is a very delicate mechanism and a wrist is very mobile. Even a slight over tight watch band will cause a small distortion in the watch case which may be sufficient to stop the watch. Putting a plaster on the back of the watch can have the effect of acting as flexible buffer which would prevent or reduce distortion.
 

Offline Donnah

  • Ma-Donnah
  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1756
    • View Profile
Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #24 on: 28/02/2016 04:24:23 »

Yeah, some people suggest that people who stop watches have had near death experiences. Through pure coincidence, my dad had one when he was 12 and I had one when I was 4. However, I cannot think of one single reason that would have any effect on watches. That's just kooky.

Never heard the NDE theory before.  I experienced that in my late twenties.  Cell phones have solved the time keeping issue, but still get electrical shocks touching car doors.  Slightly better with a static strap.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Why do watches stop when some people wear them?
« Reply #24 on: 28/02/2016 04:24:23 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums