The Sprouting Behavior of Heat-Treated Timepieces

From the groaners listserv, a classic shaggy dog.

A Controlled Experiment


Watch sprouting has been a controversial problem, complicated by popular misunderstanding of even its basic issue. This report undertakes to resolve the question definitively by careful experiment.


60 new watches (12 each from Bulova, Casio, Rolex, Seiko, and Timex) were used, each pretested to be at least 99.9% accurate. Mechanical watches were fully wound. Electronic ones were equipped with fresh batteries.

Half of each brand’s watches were placed in the test group, the remainder in the control group.


The test watches each were boiled individually for 20 minutes in 250 ml beakers containing 100 ml distilled water (measured temperature 100 degrees +/- 1 degree C), then allowed to cool and dry overnight.

Each watch was then planted individually in a 6″ pot filled with commercial-grade potting soil supplemented with 20% (v/v) of either peat moss (“temperate” or “tropical” condition) or fine sand (“desert”), also in all cases containing 20% (v/v) well-rotted manure.

The pots were maintained on a 14 hr/10 hr light/dark cycle at 25 degrees C (”temperate”) or 37 degrees C (“tropical” and “desert”) and watered every 1 (“tropical”), 2 (“temperate”) or 3 (“desert”) days.

Two watches of each brand were tested under each of the 3 conditions.

In parallel non-boiled control pots, non-boiled watches were planted with corn under identical conditions.

After 30 days the watches were carefully dug out and examined for sprouting.


All the control watches sprouted corn under all three conditions. A few of the watches showed traces of corrosion especially the cheaper brands under the “tropical” condition.

However, absolutely no sprouting occurred from any heated watch of any brand under any condition.


A boiled watch never pots

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