Or ten past ten. The usual answer is that it resembles a smile and increases sales but it sounds to me more like an urban myth that has got out of hand.

What's the truth? Is there really any evidence that setting clocks and watches to this time encourages sales? Or is everyone doing this simply because everyone else is?

Update: I'm looking for evidence / proof, e.g. a scientific study or real marketing research.

  • 9
    Around here jewelers display working watches...
    – nico
    Jul 30, 2011 at 16:45
  • 1
    This is also the recommended position for hand position on a steering wheel while driving. I sense a conspiracy here.... Jul 30, 2011 at 16:58
  • I changed the title to reference adverts, where it is more common.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 30, 2011 at 17:27
  • 2
    You are giving away the secret to my psychic mind-reading trick. The hard part is to get them to open a random magazine and find a random watch ad. Then get them to focus on the time without showing me. "I am getting a strong sense of the number 10...."
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 30, 2011 at 17:29
  • Apparently even Cecil Adams cannot answer this! Aug 6, 2011 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


Watches Amazon.com

From The New York Times (2008):

... the explanation turns out to be a simple matter of aesthetics.


In a recent check of the 100 top-selling men’s dress watches on "Amazon.com ", which included models from 20 brands, all but three watches were set to 10:10.

Because brand names generally are centered on the upper half of a watch, hands positioned at 10 and 2 “frame the brand and logo,” said Andrew Block, executive vice president at Tourneau, the watch retailer, which has 51 stores worldwide.

It’s almost like an unwritten rule that everyone understands to photograph a watch a 10:10.”


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.


Klaus Peter Mager, a spokesman for Swatch, said his 25-year-old company, based in Biel, Switzerland, has always photographed watches primarily at 10:10, because “they’re smiling instead of a sad man’s face.


Timex has an official time, 10:09:36, at which every watch — even digital models — is photographed for marketing purposes.


At Rolex, watches are always photographed at 10:10:31, and for models that list the day of the week and calendar day, it is always Monday the 28th.


In advertising we would never expect someone to look at a watch and say, ‘The watch is smiling,’ but it’s just a feeling you get, ” said Ms. Kaplan Thaler, co-author, with Robin Koval, of “The Power of Nice,” which features a big smile on its cover.

The watch theme, she added, is typical of “subconscious cues that are used in print ads.


  • Snopes debunks the myth that the 10:10 position is a tribute to John F. Kennedy's death.
  • thanks for the detailed answer but this seems to be just confirming the question. I want to know if there is any truth that it helps watch sales, or do people do it simply because everyone else does it, hence my skepticism. I have clarified my question now. Jul 30, 2011 at 17:31
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    @Wikis - Sorry, I misunderstood your question. Thought you were wondering if "Set to 10:10 because it resembles a smile" is a myth. But you are actually asking if a "smile" increases sales.
    – Oliver_C
    Jul 30, 2011 at 18:34
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    The very first point is the answer mate. It frames the brand and logo. You dont need to go further. Better the branding, better the sales Jul 30, 2011 at 18:39
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    @Pankaj: really? Do you have proof? Jul 30, 2011 at 18:45
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    Some question don't really need proofs or the other way round, no one can carry out a proof theorem for some question. This one lies in the same vicinity. This thing doesn't come under a branding strategy(though its used for framing the brand) and no one can ever prove the sales figure in this regard. It's just like the TV channel logo; preferred on the top-left, but placing it on bottom-left won't decrease the viewership. It's the content that matters in both the cases. Jul 30, 2011 at 19:06

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