Why Are All Watches Set at 10:10? Myths Refuted

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Have you ever noticed that all watches are set at 10:10 in photographs? This is not a coincidence – there is a particular reason why this setting is used. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the meaning behind this unusual watch fact and dispel some of the myths that have arisen around it.

Why are all watches set at 10 10

So, Why Are All Watches Set at 10:10?

The reason why all watches are set at 10:10 is to do with aesthetics. This particular setting ensures that:

1) The brand’s logo at the top of the dial is not obscured and is clearly visible

2) The additional elements you typically find from the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, such as the date window and subdials, are not obstructed

3) The watch hands are in their full glory  

Therefore, it’s all about presenting the watch and its elements in the best way possible marketing-wise. 

However, there are also a couple of psychological sides to the reasoning behind setting a watch to show 10:10.  

Psychological Contributors

It is claimed that because the 10:10 layout is symmetrical, it creates a sense of order and calmness. Therefore, when everything in our environment appears symmetrical and ordered, it can have a calming effect on our psyche and make us more relaxed and at ease. 

But why aren’t watches set to, for instance, 8:20 then, which is also symmetrical?

If you compare a watch that shows 10:10 and a watch showing 8:20, what do you see? A happy face and a sad face.

happy watch face vs sad watch face
Watch face with 10:10 vs 8:20

If something looks sad, would you be more into buying it than the one that looks happy? Probably not. Then again, how many of you would even notice the face forming out of the hands?! 

Eventually, everything is down to psychology and the way we subconsciously process things in our lives. According to psychological researchers, the 10:10 setting positively affects the emotional response, while the 8:20 does not as much.

The 10:10 layout became widely popular in the 1950s. Before that, the general rule for displaying the watch hands on photographs was mostly at 8:20.

Myths Surrounding the 10:10 Time Setting

There are quite a lot of myths surrounding this particular setup of watch hands. However, they are all either plain wrong or falsely interpreted. Here are some of the myths you may hear circling. 

1) Myth: The time of death of famous people

The most widespread myth is that the 10:10 is a tribute and remembrance to the death of Abraham Lincoln/John F. Kennedy/Martin Luther King. Some claim it was the time of the death of Lincoln, while others that it was the exact time when Kennedy or Luther King died.

Reality: Abraham Lincoln was shot at 10:15 pm and was pronounced dead the following day at 7.22 am, whereas John F. Kennedy was shot at 12.30 pm and was pronounced dead half an hour later. Martin Luther King, on the other hand, was fatally shot at 6.01 pm and died approximately an hour later.

2) Myth: The time when atomic bombs were dropped

Another myth circling is that at precisely 10:10, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and it is a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of deaths. 

Reality: Again, it is a myth that can easily be fact-checked. While the Hiroshima bomb was dropped at 8.15 am, the Nagasaki bomb exploded at 11.20 am. 

3) Myth: The 10:10 looks like a “V” for victory and symbolizes the hope and positivity of the post-war era

Reality: No known facts support this myth as no watch manufacturer has ever claimed it. On the other hand, it cannot be refuted either because the 10:10 layout became prevalent in the 1950s, which seems to suit the theory. 

However, considering the aesthetic side of the 10:10 setting with all of its marketing merits, it is very unlikely that the V for victory is the reasoning behind it.    

Why Do Some Watches Show Other Time?

Regardless of the fact that the vast majority of watches are set at 10:10, there are still some timepieces that show a different time.

For example, Timex always sets its watches at 10:09:37, whereas Rolex prefers 10:10:31. However, these are only minor differences compared to Oris that has placed the hands at 7:53:07. 

Oris watch with different hand placement
Oris watch at 7:53:07

The most probable reason for the uncommon time is that they want to be a little different from the mainstream trend. 

The most sold watch in the world, Apple Watch, also sticks out by displaying a slightly different time on the photographs and marketing images – 10:09. By setting the time a minute earlier than others, Apple appears to make a statement about being ahead of the others with its smartwatches.

Besides the brands mentioned above, you’ll find some more watches that have a totally different hand placement from the 10:10.

That is primarily due to the specifics in the dial design where subdials are placed in unconventional positions and where the ten past ten would obscure the details.    

Final Words

In conclusion, there are a number of myths surrounding the time setting of ten past ten. However, the primary reason the watches are set to this time is that they look aesthetically the best and create a sense of order and calmness. 

So next time you see a watch with its hands set at 10:10, remember that there is more to the story than meets the eye!

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Carl Pender

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