It sounds too good to be true: a watch that can heal aches and pains, help you sleep at night and suspend you in a permanently zen-like state. Such are the claims of Philip Stein, a company based in Miami, which has, since 2003, been producing luxury time-pieces that operate with a "frequency technology" that is resonant with the "natural earth", and which is therefore, according to the brochure, "harmonious and grounding to life".
"Everybody has a bio-field," (known in traditional Chinese medicine as "chi" and Indian medicine as "chakra") explains Will Stein, president and co-founder of the company. "In today's world, technology like telephones, computers and fluorescent lighting can have a negative effect on that. We have the ability to strengthen and expand the human bio-energy field." The process even has a name, "sympathetic resonance", and it works, Stein says, in the same way as a tuning fork. "If you hit a tuning fork on the table it has a certain resonance. If you then take another and hold it next to the vibrating one, the frequency travels to the second fork."
In the case of the watches, the vibrations, which are set at 7 - 9 hertz, are delivered through a small metal disc inside the watch. All that is required for us to make use of them is contact with the skin. The list of potential health benefits is impressive: "Some people", says Stein, "say they feel more relaxed; others say they can focus better. Some people say that, for example, the aches and pains they used to have - say, headaches or shoulder aches - have dissipated."
He emphasises, though, that they make no medical claims about the watch's powers (the term "energy field" is likely to be met with a dismissive wave by most doctors). Some scientific research has, however, been conducted on the watch's ability to aid sleep. "That's something a lot of people are looking for", Stein says. Such is the demand that the company has created a product specifically targeted at sleep frequencies. "It was scientifically proven, by a study we conducted in America, that people who wear it fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, wake up less and feel more refreshed in the morning." The results are being published in a scientific journal next month.
If you think it all sounds a bit woolly, you need look no further than the mighty Oprah Winfrey for an alternative viewpoint. The showbiz mogul was one of the first celebrities to give it the seal of approval after she included it twice in her "Oprah's Favourite Things" segment. Since then, it has been spotted on the wrists of Queen Noor of Jordan, Samuel L Jackson and Rupert Murdoch. "Even today, if you turn on The Oprah Winfrey Show," says Stein, "five times out of 10 you will see her wearing our watch."
There was nothing for me to do then but give it a test run. I have the odd ache and pain. I could be more relaxed. I don't always sleep that well. All minor grumbles that the majority of the population probably suffer from; but all the same, things I wouldn't mind fixing. And I've never been averse to the holistic approach. I've had my fair share of acupuncture. I took arnica when I had my wisdom teeth out (and suffered, incidentally, no swelling afterwards). And I've started practising yoga, complete with its meditation techniques, three times a week.
"Try and wear it constantly," advised Stein. "If you put it on and take it off, the effect might not be as strong." Even if I didn't notice the difference, he added, my colleagues might. "They might say, 'Oh Katie, you became much calmer; you're not nervous.'" Then, if, between us, we still weren't noticing anything, I should try taking it off. "Then you might notice, 'Oh, something is missing, something is changing.'"
I planned to wear it, on Stein's instructions, for at least two weeks. In fact, I have ended up wearing it for more like six. At first there was little to report. Stein had told me that some wearers "who are very sensitive to their own body" immediately feel a kind of "energy" coming from the watch. Not me. I didn't notice any discernible change in my sleeping patterns. Most nights I slept well; some nights I didn't. Same old. And my focus at work didn't seem to increase measurably. My colleagues claimed to notice little difference in me.
I, however, started to detect a new hint of calmness creeping in. I need to reiterate here the fact that I had, at about the same time, taken up yoga, so it could also have been that. But there were certain experiences, such as negotiating the chaos of the Corniche Hospital on a Thursday morning, which previously might have made me want to scream, but now I just drifted through, unfazed. Even the washing machine breaking didn't cause me to throw my usual strop. It's not a huge change, but it does feel like life isn't roaring around me in quite the same way it used to.
Of course, as Stein says, this is all unproved. In order to do that I would need to take it off - or stop doing yoga. And I have no intention of doing either of those. Philip Stein watches start at Dh1,900 and are available at Rivoli stores across the UAE.