Conjuring Credits

The Origins of Wonder

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Forcing Watch

The idea of using a neutral position—between the positions for winding and for moving the hands—on the stem of pocket watches was used by magicians during the time when such watches were in vogue (and sometime after) for forcing a set time. See “Radarstrahlen” by Heinz Grieppner in Magie, Vol. 30 No. 9, Sep. 1950, p. 176.

Other forcing approaches with watches were Robert Stull's multiple-setting pocket watch and Herbert Milton's double-faced hunter's case watch.

Richard Himber updated the idea of the neutral stem-position in the 1960s with a specially altered wristwatch he sold as “Time Capsule”. At the same time, he released a wristwatch adaptation of the Stull watch, marketed as the “Ducatillon Mental Watch”. John Pomeroy found a diver's watch ready-made with a neutral stem position and explained that other wrist watches could be altered for the job by having a diver's crown installed. He published the idea in 1973, in Mentology (see “A Matter of Time”, p. 37).

Barlow Wagman contributed a related idea, “Alarm”, to Magick, No. 146, Feb. 6, 1976, pp. 728 and 730. Wagman found a type of alarm wristwatch that has two stems, one for setting the time, the other for setting the alarm. By misrepresenting the one for the other, he was able to force a time on a spectator.

Danny Korem discovered that certain watches that display the day and date as well as the time could be used in the same manner as Pomeroy's diver's watch, the stem position for setting the calendar serving the same purpose as a neutral stem position. Korem published a trick using this idea, “Stull-ess Watch Stunner”, in Jon Racherbaumer's Lost Pages of the Kabbala, 1981, p. 17. Michael Weber is known to have independently made the same discovery around this time.

Bev Bergeron, following a similar train of thought, found a cheap and popular brand of watches by Seiko with the required type of crown with a setting position for an alarm feature, and later found the Swatch brand wristwatch could also be used. Bergeron claimed to have run across the Seiko watch in 1969 (four years before Pomeroy's book was published, although probably not before he came up with the idea), but Bergeron didn't publish the idea until 1989, in a manuscript, Predicting Time. Pomeroy's book is included in Bergeron's bibliography.