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
“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
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
“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.