A Philip Stein watch—which has the most recognizable dual time zone dial among luxury timepieces—is also the only watch whose entry into the global market enjoyed a serendipitous kickstart, courtesy of Oprah and Madonna.
In 2003, Will Stein, president and cofounder of Philip Stein watches, was searching for a possible endorser for the watch that carries Natural Frequency Technology. The dual dial designed by Stein’s wife and cofounder, Rina, was already an attraction. But he thought it needed a boost from someone whose popularity could rub off on the watch.
“A friend of my stepson knew the personal assistant of Madonna,” Stein recalled. “I thought, ‘That’s good enough’ and asked the assistant to give two watches to Madonna.”
He then made a pitch to People Magazine about the pop star wearing a Philip Stein. The magazine wanted proof, so Stein turned to the personal assistant, who e-mailed to confirm that “Madonna loves the watch.”
Stein said the magazine later put a stamp-sized photo of the singer with these lines: “Madonna Wearing Philip Stein.” Suddenly, the phone in his tiny office began ringing endlessly.
During lunch with Lifestyle, Stein recounted: “We gave Madonna two watches. Was it coincidence or destiny? Madonna was at ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ She must have given one of the watches to Oprah. We were three people in the company, we get a call and the person who picks up says, ‘Will, there’s Oprah on the phone.’”
Stein thought it was joke, but his assistant was insistent. It really was Oprah, and she wanted to introduce Philip Stein in “Oprah’s Favorite Things”—the episode where the entire studio audience gets scores of fantastic freebies from the host.
Stein said Oprah praised the dual time zone concept and the interchangeable bands. Oprah was also curious about Natural Frequency Technology and wanted to “introduce it” in her show.
“Obviously she was not gonna buy the watches, you have to give the watches to her,” said Stein. “But, come on! It was like 350 watches, but who cares? How could you get this kind of Oprah audience—350 women screaming about every product.”
Rina witnessed firsthand the “Favorite Things” episode that Stein described as “unbelievable.”
There were two more instances when Philip Stein watches were given to the talk show’s fans, including the one in 2010 in which Winfrey requested over the phone that Philip Stein present a commemorative watch for her show’s 25th and final season.
More than a decade later, Stein now prefers “influencers” who don’t necessarily have millions of followers. American track-and-field star and triple-jump champion Christian Taylor is one of them. He wore Philip Stein’s Horizon sport bracelet when he recently won a world championship in London.
“We don’t really work much with superstar endorsers. Nothing against the ambassadors that big brands use, but these people use the products because they get millions of dollars for that. You have to be authentic,” Stein said.
Taylor and other Philip Stein fans swear by Natural Frequency Technology. Different Philip Stein products emit different frequencies and are worn for different purposes.
The watch and day bracelets worn regularly are for “overall well-being, balance and relaxation.” The sleep bracelet offers a different frequency because “one is in a different frequency when asleep than when alert,” Stein explained.
There is also a metal card—a demo device that is placed under fruits and vegetables to enhance their smell and taste through natural frequency.
“We have different products to target different needs,” said Stein. “Some people cannot wrap their heads around the idea of a chip on the wrist, but we are beings of frequencies. Every organ in the body has a harmonic frequency.”
He likened the human body’s response to frequencies to that of a tuning fork.
“I click one on a hard surface and there is a certain frequency or vibration. I hold another fork next to it and the vibration is picked up by the second fork. This is how our bodies work,” Stein explained.
“It is a well-known fact that when your mind is in frequencies of seven to nine hertz, this is the calming and relaxation state,” he added. “That’s what our products do. The body will pick up the frequency inside the watch.”
Stein, a former airline executive, said his interest in a healthy lifestyle began as a young man in postwar Germany. His father, a coal miner in the industrial district of Essen, had cancer because of the dangerous environment he was exposed to, and died at age 74.
After the war, Germany developed natural healing facilities, but Stein did not pay much attention until he was a young man visiting Palm Beach, Florida.
He loved to eat meat and the humid weather would make him fall asleep immediately after lunch. He said a friend suggested he turn to fruits, vegetables and salads so as not to feel too languorous after a meal.
“My energy level went up immediately, and after a few days, I became more energetic,” he said. “I stopped eating meat 30 years ago. I eat fish sometimes… Rice and pasta, but not big portions. I like quinoa, the best source of protein for vegetarians.”
The switch to a healthy lifestyle eventually found Stein and Rina learning about Natural Frequency Technology.
“When we were introduced to this new technology, we thought we could be the first well-being accessory in place of a beautiful watch. We thought if this works, we could create a niche for ourselves, which we did,” Stein revealed.
The couple agreed their watch should be “a nice-looking one which you could easily identify. That’s why we have two time zones. That was what really created our DNA. For Filipinos, when you ask about Philip Stein, it’s ‘Oh, the one with the two time zones!’”
Stein chuckled when told of a common assumption that the watch is named after a benevolent patriarch who’s probably enjoying retirement somewhere.
When they set out to market the watch, he and Rina agreed that Stein would make a good brand name, but his first name Will wouldn’t cut it.
“Rina was pregnant with our son and we thought first to call him Ben Philip. Then we decided after he was born to call the child Ben and to call the other child, our virtual child which is the watch brand, Philip,” he said. “That was how Philip Stein came about. It is our virtual son that makes everybody calm, and our biological son who drives everyone crazy. Kidding!”
Philip Stein has 19 stand-alone boutiques, among 61 points of sale in the Philippines. The 20th store will open soon in SM Megamall. Philip Stein is exclusively distributed by Lucerne Luxe.