Swiss Watch Found in 400-Year Old Chinese Tomb

Posted on March 5, 2009

While some mysteries are occasionally solved, the majority tend to live on forever without the truth being revealed. One in the latter category concerns the recent discovery of a century-old Swiss watch discovered in an ancient Chinese tomb that has been sealed for more than 400 years.

How did it get there? This is the question haunting the archaeologists who discovered the Swiss watch in an ancient tomb in Shangsi, southern China, they believed had not been opened since its occupant’s funeral, which occurred during the Ming Dynasty (15-16th centuries).

The miniature watch, which is in the shape of a ring, is thought to be barely a century old. The mysterious timepiece was encrusted in mud and rock and had stopped at 10:06 am. On the back of the watch, the word, ‘Swiss’ is engraved.

Its presence raises more questions than answers… like: Where did the watch come from? Could the watch/ring have been planted at the tomb, but if so, why and by whom?

The known facts do not really help in this case.

The Ming Dynasty did have its own unique age of watch making, but that does not explain why the word, ‘Swiss’ on the back of the watch is engraved in English. In Geneva, Switzerland, other languages were more common, namely French and German.

In 1541 in Geneva, there was a ban on flashy jewelry, so the idea of a watch/ ring might make some sense, as a watch was considered practical and essential. Still, there is no record anywhere of ring/watches being popular in Europe until after 1780, which only deepens the mystery.

The archaeologists were filming a documentary with two journalists when they made the puzzling discovery.

The dig has been suspended and researchers are currently awaiting the arrival of some experts from Beijing to help them unravel this most unsettling mystery.

Anyone know what time it is?

(Link 1 2 3)



M Dee Dubroff is the penname of this freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non fiction writing and maintains eight web sites covering a wide variety of topics. She also writes feature articles for several local newspapers. Her book entitled: A Taste of Funny, and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry (http://www.ingestandimbibe.com) feature many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.
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165 thoughts on “Swiss Watch Found in 400-Year Old Chinese Tomb

  1. Tommy

    I knew some idiot was gonna write “time travel” or “aliens” in the comment section. Anyways it appears they need a second or third archaeological assessment. Either the first team did a poor job using dating techniques on the tomb, or that particular soil sample had been disturbed. The obvious answer is that that tomb has NOT been sealed for 400 years.

      1. Jason

        How bout you try thinking rationally STail. Tommy has a much better chance being right than some idiot saying time travel. Its obvious that the tomb was disturbed at one time or that it is not 400 years old. I would assume that they could contact swiss watches and find out when they produced these ring watches and find out how old the watch is and that would let them know a time line of when the tomb was opened or that maybe they were wrong when saying its 400 years old.

        1. MP

          And how do you know time travel isn’t the answer? Nobody’s saying time travel is possible now in 2009, but your lack of imagination isn’t stopping a guy 300 years from now going to a funeral in the Ming Dynasty and dropping off his watch.

          If time travel exists, YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT IT YET, DOOFUS.

        2. Dicky

          if people in the future could travel back in time, then we would already have seen someone from the future. It’s not like they’d travel back unnoticed by anyone. That’s why I think that traveling backwards in time is impossible for humans (or at least will never be achieved) because at least one person would have come and told us how to do it by now.

        3. Angel

          no dummy, everyone knows the main rule of time travel- You can’t interfere with the past. So what if ppl are walking among us are from the future. How would you know?? It’s not like you’ll ever see the person passing you on the street again. See, people like you made fun of space travel… and now look. Open your mind up.

        4. Willy Brown Balls

          It is not possible from what we know to time travel to a point before the moment that time travel is invented.

          1. Drillasounds

            BRAVO! It's so simple!Just like Windows' System Restore.
            Time-travel machine needs timeline starting point (the moment when you turn it ON),so u CAN go back in time,but not before machine was turned ON…at least,that's what science says :)

        5. caleb

          Actually those rules for something that’s not invented yet you are making fun of were developed by Albert Einstein in his book on the subject. And they are dictated by theoretical physics. I’m not saying that this was time travel by any means, that’s pretty ridiculous, but what harm does it do in letting people wonder about things? None, so let them think its aliens, time travel, or whatever.

        6. Crash

          I bet if Tommy knew how to time travel, he would go back in time and rethink posting his original comment. Either way, you’re going to need a Flux Capacitor, which I think you can purchase on ebay for a good price. Happy Traveling; see you in the future, or past maybe :)

      2. krakerz

        Yeah, some advanced future human time traveled to the inside of an ancient stinky tomb with an antique watch which he left behind in the dark.
        That makes a lot more sense than the tomb has not been sealed as claimed.

    1. creep

      Wow, angry rude people in here. You’d think that people might have a sense of humor, but in this case it appears to not be the case. Lighten up, geez.

    2. SpreadingTheTruth

      "I knew some idiot was gonna write "time travel" or "aliens" in the comment section". said Tommy

      But aren't you, yourself a bigger idiot for believing in an invisible, Sky Fairy, that gave birth to his own, Vampire, Zombie Son, that walked on water, etc.

      You have no problem believing in your Myth, and accept that as the Truth, while everything that does not jive with those Lies, that you perceive as Truth, is utter B.S., according to you.

      Educate your mind, LOSER, and begin thinking for yourself !!!

    3. tommyisadork

      I knew some idiot was going to write 'Anyways it appears they need a second or third archaeological assessment. Either the first team did a poor job using dating blah blah blah….blah. shut up.

    1. Johannes

      No, it can’t be a marketing scheme, my Old Greek teacher has a watch ring herself, so I think they don’t need that

  2. David

    Too bad John Cameron Swazye wasnt around…cause if it had been a timex, it would still have been ticking…

  3. Charly

    Well, it’s not so strange.

    Its obvious that the Swiss had watch making technology back then. And the Chinese had technology to make those crappy fake watches they sell!!!


    1. Marty McFly

      Of course! That makes perfect sense. A time traveling squirrel left it there 400 years ago, while on an expedition to learn about an ancient race of beings that once inhabited their planet and who later went extinct in the Great Squirrel uprising of 2570 A.D. In fact, that's not a ring watch after all, it's a squirrel sized wrist watch, hand crafted by mice, hence the word 'swiss' on them, clearly named after their favorite cheese. :P

  4. PW

    “…the majority tend to live on forever without the truth being revealed. One in the latter category concerns the recent discovery…”.
    So this means forever is over, does it? “The majority tend to”…on what do you base this claim?

    I stopped reading after the second sentence.

    If reporting about things in a factual way and avoiding unsubstantiated generalizations is not your strong suit, just write a 4 word caption below the pic and leave it at that.

      1. Me Man You Woman

        Oooooh hand bag! Someone is in a serious and analytical mood today!

        My hypothesis involves time travel by a DeLorean from the 5th Dimension where the characters of a certain film exist in their reality along with a flux capacitor. As far as you’re concerned this is as factual as any other hypothesis that people have put forward.

        You cannot guess what happened historically, but it’s fun to try anyway Mr Seriousnessness

    1. searchingsoul

      i think he simply means the mystery is impossible to explain. he put in too much "poetry" to elaborate his writing but ended up meaning otherwise. don't they editors?

      i would consider time travel or the possibility that the dig was already dug up before they did a long time ago. but holy crap i would not consider particular beings from a certain 5th dimension.

  5. Erra

    Clearly someone in the future will develop time-travel, and is playing practical jokes on historical archeologists. Wouldn’t you, if you had a time machine?

    1. Kismet

      I’m glad you recognize this is the only plausible explanation. It was, of course, the first thing I did after I had perfected my Time Machine. It’s good to know there’s someone else out there who appreciates temporal practical jokes. We should pick a date and get together. How about sometime last April?

  6. justjoeindenver

    Clearly it was digested by a snake, left by some traveler nearer the surface in recent times. The snake, or other burrowing animal entered the tomb (still technically sealed) and has long since died and returned to the dust from whence it came.

    That, or the Sleestak from Land of the Lost. Either theory is equally plausible. Also, John Titor. LOL

          1. Cyborggold

            um…. I think you are missing the point…. watches run 12 hour cycles… twice a day…. was this 10:06 the first or second time around the day it stopped… lol

  7. MK2

    And then,(duh!) it could simply be a case of the person posting this having a bit of fun. Surely, no one takes this seriously. There has to be a better use for the internet doesn’t there. I know there is. It’s just not at this paticular site

  8. the

    When I was young I saw crappy ring watches for sell that were from China. No doubt some tomb raiders must have had one to tell them what time it was in the tomb so they could avoid guards or know how much air time they had left. The most likely explanation is the one no-one accepts.

  9. anonymous

    Damn…those advertising guys are getting good….it must have been hard to plant that watch there…

  10. Sharif

    One of my buddies inferred that it might be from a prehistoric civilization, like a civilization that existed far before ours but was quite advanced but just had suffered some kind of large disaster where only few survived and had started again from a primitive life.

  11. Clockser

    Im guessing this is a complete fake…

    like Kmuzu pointed out, its not “10:06am”, its 5:35, that mistake wouldnt make it through the news…

    also, why do they say that the watch stopped at 10:06am if the watch looks like its made out of solid material, not exactlly a working piece(note that if it was covered in dust and all, you couldnt make the pointers out)

  12. knowsthetruth

    Oh come on.. time travel? That’s complete bull. It’s obvious that dwarf aliens from the planet Swiss were good friends with the dude in the tomb. They must have visited his funeral to pay their respects and left the watch as a gift. Forget those crackpot theories about an animal carrying the watch in, that would never happen.

  13. ObviousJon

    As Clockser said, and what I was thinking as soon as I read the text under the photo, if it was a real watch then surely it would have a glass screen so the dial and hands would not be visible under the dust.

    My first thought on the photo was that it was another of those photoshop or prank photos on a prank website.

    What’s to say it didn’t ‘fall’ out of the pocket of someone who was there at the time that they found it?

  14. not applicable

    time travel back to when the grave robbers lost it. c’mon, this is retarded, even for Nancy Drew

  15. ravencalls

    Last night I had a dream that .. this raven flew over that tomb and witnessed two people messing around in there.
    he kept on saying something about a shiny object in one of their hands.
    So I asked the raven… How long ago did he see this.. he told me that his parents were young chicks .. but thats all he could remember.

  16. Tommy

    What if… this whole article is just a sick practical joke to promote everyone’s belief in time travel and the supernatural…
    Where are the links to collaborating stories or news items.

    The story is imaginative and fun though.

    Comment soon to be deleted I’m sure.

  17. ginsuplartik

    dammit, so that’s where I lost the prototype. The planet Ronco(tm) would have ruled this planet long ago if only I had’nt lost the Watch Ring! Instead we had to resort to the Pocket Fisherman and Hair in a Can (GR8 looking Hair). All hail Popiel!

  18. MP

    Ok seriously though, have Swiss ring watches been around for 100 years? I’m having a hard time picturing a Victorian individual checking their finger for the time.

  19. Idree

    Has to be a disturbed tomb.

    No way people in the future will be using ring watches to tell their time.

    We’ll probably be using our holographic and PDA like sjit to check the time not some Ring watch

  20. Kori

    I think that some grave robber 100 years ago probably was wearing it thinking it was cool lol and lost it and his/her remains are probably close by. He probably never made it out alive so of course thats why they still think it hasn’t been opened for 400yrs!! thats my 2 cents!!!!! lol

  21. Wow!

    Yeah… it’s believable that ring watches were made a hundred years ago. For example, Alexander of Macedonia was believed by archaeologists to have made the first prototype submarine-like craft 2000 plus years ago and even an electric car concept had once been built by some dude a century ago. So the watches age is practical, but about how the tomb hasn’t been disturbed for 400 years… I just don’t know hmmmn. Precious! Yessss! Preciou… ahem, I’m mean… ungh NVM ;P

  22. bluedongle

    It’s obvious that Chuck Norris left it there. He’s the only human that could sneak in then leave, while not disturbing the tomb. That or he farted so hard it sent him back in time and he dropped his watch there. In some random tomb.

    1. hzax

      Because you are living the United States, a cauldron of mixed races, people and culture. Hence, the variance in the shapes and colors of people.

      While CHINA is basically one race, the YELLOW RACE.

  23. Phil E. Drifter

    They had those ‘Digits’ finger watches back in the 80′s. Obviously it fell off of some visiting tourist.

    Why is the article about an out of place watch but they have a picture of a pebble that looks roughly shaped like a tiny watch?

  24. tyler

    hey archeologist Artie, chill out. they’re just messing around. and if ur so smart why are you telling us your “scientific breakthrough” instead of the worldwide junior archeologist douche association?

  25. vahid

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  26. me

    I Would like to say that the first comment of time travel genius. And for all the rest of you that are commenting back and explaining how time travel is impossible, it’s called a joke and you need to get off your computer for the first time in a month and see some f*ing daylight. Hench why you may have not seen someone from the future. Your computer screen only goes so far. So after your done reading this and mastuB*ting today go out and see some light and breath some real air and maybe if your blessed by some god you might be able to see a time traveler.

  27. Belbe

    The Doctor or his stupid assistant probably dropped it…
    Man some people here need a sense of humour, and good points about setting and clock hands! Though I propose that maybe the glass was just broken or something…

  28. kimo

    Of course there were finger watches, necklace watches, etc over 100 years ago, even longer than that! Back in the 1700s there were such jewelry of the wealthy. So a wealthy traveler was in China, maybe there was a flood? Was 10:06 (the time clearly on the watch) the time of death? Person wearing it died (time of death?) and the jewelry washed down and into this tomb. Hmmmm…… Movies are made about such cool stuff!

    Starring: Nicholas Cage!

    I can see it now.

  29. Fleasucker

    You all do realize that this is a total fake, and that it was created and posted just to see how many comments people will leave, right?

  30. Stephen

    some small animal probably ate it and went inside the tomb and shitted it out inside there …. so its not covered with dirt … its covered with shit ……. lol

  31. W-Three

    Its a small watch, and not a real one at that. I think its fairly obvious that its a replica of a watch formed into the form of a ring. The word 'swiss' could have a completely different meaning.

    Whats more, there are no pictures of the writing 'swiss' so we have no idea whether it actually does say swiss, it could be misinterpreted.

  32. Ajdetail1 at gmail

    Seriously erie , before I decided to comment, I spoke to a number of my colleagues and associates, I believe that it is possible and that there is indeed more discoveries to be made in the near future.

  33. adfgag

    total BS, that ring is in the form of a handwrist watch. first handworn watches have been invented at the end of the 19th century, so theres no way this ring is 400 yrs old. it even says in one passage that it is thought that the ring is barely one century old but the article later continues its 400yrs story. bs

  34. Angela

    Its styled like a modern watch and the hands look like they were carved in. I think its likely from a barbie sort of doll and ended up in there by some mistake. Obviously hasn't been "sealed".

    Or Dr Who accidentally shrank himself back in time and deposited it there.

  35. Jakob Montrasio

    A crazy person would say: That (fake) watch is from one of the workers who created the tomb to make it look like there is that much history in China.

    I guess just some tomb robbers were in the tomb before them.

  36. Brent

    It's those damn kids Bill and Ted at it again! If I told them once, we told them a thousand times not to give "Excellent" gifts to royal dudes in such from the ancient world! What a bummer!

  37. magi

    "The miniature watch, which is in the shape of a ring, is thought to be barely a century old."

    -barely a century old-

    Then this…

    "In 1541 in Geneva, there was a ban on flashy jewelry, so the idea of a watch/ ring might make some sense, as a watch was considered practical and essential. Still, there is no record anywhere of ring/watches being popular in Europe until after 1780, which only deepens the mystery."

    First they say it's barely a century old, then they speculate that it's from the 1700's. Excellent journalism.

  38. Amyobus Key

    The first assumption is that humans have not entered the sealed tomb. Archaeologists are usually skilled enough to determine this. The second assumption is that, as a human-manufactured object can only be directed by a human. This is the false assumption. Animals and birds are known to sometimes collect shiny objects and install them in their burrows/nests. Forget about time travel and fake reports. A biologist is required to investigate for signs of animal activity. It is not necessarily the answer, but the only reasonable one.

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  40. rheaseo

    I think, that I coudl have just put an old watch in there as a hoax. Like, say I dug up my great grandfather, and put a latop in his grave. After a long time, they find his coffine and!…. My laptop. better read reviews than believe on this.. lol http://www.swiss-watches-guide.com/

  41. Carlos23

    Looks more like 10:10 on the narrow watch face. Look at any watch commercial/ad and you will see that they are always set on 10:10.

  42. RonAngel

    It is not the watch that should be analysed but the
    soilit is encased inand comparedusing chromatograph with
    surrounding soil that it was “found” in. Then carbon date soiland watch parts separately. Faking that lot would be very difficult. Science
    does not lie. Get independent labs to verify results.

  43. RonAngel

    “The miniature watch, which is in the shape of a ring”
    Watch size of a ring, as ladies watch time traveller with small
    Jokes on you, or all of us if fake!

  44. Carlos23

    If I made a little watch ring TODAY and went back 400 years to put it in a tomb, and was found tomorrow, it would be 400 years old not 1 day old.


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