Watches and Clocks Are Typically Set to 10:10 in Ads fact

Watches and Clocks Are Typically Set to 10:10 in Ads

Are Watches and Clocks Set to 10:10 in Advertisements?

Watches and clocks are typically, but not always, set to 10:10 (or close) in advertisements. This is mostly for aesthetic reasons and simplicity. In simple terms, it gives room for graphical elements like the logo, and importantly it looks like a nice happy symmetric smiley face.

Before the 50’s when companies like Timex switched over to 10:10, 8:20 was common. 8:20 as it also had a simple and has an aesthetic symmetry, however 8:20 looks a bit like a frowning face, so most modern ads go with 10:10. It’s more than a design choice, in the watch and clock marketing industry it’s a golden rule.[1][2][3][4][5]

Watches set to 10:10 to music.

Want Proof of 10:10?

Do a Google search for images of watch and clock advertisements[1] or look at the watches and clocks on or, or watch the video above and you will see that most of the clock and watch hands are set to 10:10.[3]

FACT: Other times like 9:45 for example also have a nice symmetry for ads. 10:10 is the most popular choice for a simple mater of logistics. It looks happy, gives room for a logo, and doesn’t obscure other graphical elements in the watch ad.

Why 10:10?

Why are Watches Set to 10:10?

Setting watches to 10:10 allows the brand name, which is usually directly under 12:00, to show clearly and be framed well by the hands. It also shows the calendar or moon phase functions, which are often at 3:00. The Apple watch is set to 10:09 in keeping with this tradition and Timex sets all their watches to 10:09:36 exactly.[2]

8:20 Used to be the Norm

If you look at vintage wristwatch print ads posted online, you will see that 10:10 was not always the norm. Watches in the 1920s and 1930s were typically set to 8:20. It may be speculation, but the 8:20 time was thought to look sad and by the 50’s brands like Timex switched over to 10:10. Watch companies like Rolex instruct using 10:10 because of it’s resemblance to a “smiley face”. The same thing happened with clocks around the same time.[3]

“It has the aesthetic of the smiley face to be 10 past 10, so we try whenever possible to opt for that,” Susanne Hurni, head of Ulysse Nardin’s advertising and marketing, said from the company headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland.”[3]

Does 10:10 Have a Deeper Political Meaning?

Some People think that the time of 10:10 is set to commemorate either President Lincoln’s or President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination. Although Lincoln was shot at approximately 10:13; John F. Kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. The times represented on clock and watch ads have noting to do with either fact.[4]


Watches are typically set to 10:10 (or close to 10:10) in modern ads, but the common setting has changed over time. In general, the setting is done for aesthetics, and not for some hidden meaning related to a historic event as sometimes speculated.


  1. advertisements for analog watches” Image Search from Retrieved Feb 22, 2016.
  2. Why is time on Apple Watch promotional ads set to 10:09?“. Retrieved Feb 22, 2016.
  3. Why Time Stands Still for Watchmakers“. Retrieved Feb 22, 2016.
  4. The Ten Ten Tenet“. Retrieved Feb 22, 2016.
  5. Why do advertisements often use the time 10:10 on clocks and watches?“. Retrieved Feb 22, 2016.
  6. Why do all clock/watch ads show the hands at “10 and 2”?” Retrieved Feb 22, 2016.

Author: Linda deSolla Price

Linda deSolla Price is the daughter of Derek de Solla Price, a physicist, historian, and Yale professor who was the first to formally study the History of Science. She holds...

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I always thought that there was another reason that clocks were set at a different time because of a historical event.

Thomas DeMichele Did not vote.

We heard a few different theories when researching this. The best answer I think was the most obvious however. That is, “aesthetic reasons and simplicity.”