Some create products, and others, as Shakespeare might have said, have products thrust upon them. Peter Payack falls in the latter category. Payack, a 34-year-old poet, is the inventor of the Stonehenge Watch, an $11.95 neolithic timepiece in the Pet Rock-genre of personal accessories.
"It was just a joke," says Payack. Back in 1980, Creative Computing magazine was doing an April Fool's parody issue, and Payack, a contributing editor of the magazine, put together an ad for a $22.95 "Gentlemen's Watch," featuring a replica of the original Stonehenge grafted onto an antique pocket watch face, and offering a 5,000-year guarantee. Lo and behold, about 20 to 30 checks arrived in the mail. "I didn't even have my address on the ad, just 'Peter Payack Poetics,' so people had to do a lot of work to find me."
The problem, of course, was that the product didn't exist. One of the respondents, however, offered to draw up production specifications, and Payack himself dug up a plastics manufacturer, Accurate Molding Co of Paterson, N.J., which not only agreed to make the things, but also put up $25,000 for the mold, which made the first run possible. By last June, the Stonehenge Watch was ready to see the light of day.
Payack rolled out his product with a small ad in The New York Times that proclaimed "A Great Leap Backwards in Time!" and promised to "amaze your Druid neighbors." "Yes, now at last, you can predict an eclipse and tell the local time apparent with this beautiful pocket timepiece." The ad cost $880 and drew $3,000 worth of orders.
Business aside, Payack swears that the tiny plastic replica of Stonehenge -- variously thought to have been a clock, a temple, or an observatory -- will actually tell time and predict eclipses. "You just have to think neolithically," he says.