The Mystery of Wristwatch Ads

Every time you go through a men’s fashion magazine, you probably don’t notice it but its there all the time. Even if you googled it you’d  get a pageload of it in its variety. And it’s not recently that it’s been there, it actually has been there dating years back. Many have questioned it and given all sorts of theories. Even with explanations that have been given, people still come up with weird presumptions.

All over google, the dial is placed the same way.

It’s the mysterious reason as to why the dial on almost every advertised wristwatch reads 10 past 10.
As an advertising person, my curiosity was lit when I discovered this phenomenon. Two things came to me as a result: either there was a conspiracy surrounding it or it was a marketing gimmick by the companies advertising the watches.Surprisingly also, it applied to wall clocks as well.

So I went a-searching on what it was all about. There were many answers given all over the internet:

  • Some believe that it was the time Abraham Lincoln was shot dead; that his wristwatch had stopped at that time and as a tribute to him every advertised watch is set to 10 past 10. Hmmm…were they already wearing wristwatches in Lincoln’s days? Maybe it was a pocket watch or his wall clock…
  • Some believe that it’s a subliminal message that stem from the freemasonry symbolism; that the ‘V’ positioning of the dial is sexually related  - representative of the female vulva of ancient symbolism. Wow…this sounds believeable. 
  • Some believe it’s the time the Hiroshima /Nagasaki atomic bombs went off; it is said that all the clocks stopped at that time when one of those bombs went off. Sounds like part of a nice movie plot. 
  • Some believe it’s just a victory symbol.
  • Some believe that when the first watch was made, it read 10 past 10 and ever since then it’s been advertised that way.

Eventually I got information that explained everything. And the explanation turns out to be a simple matter of aesthetics.

Most Watchmakers believe that 10 past 10 is the most aesthetically pleasing time to display. It is also said that the position reminds people of a smiling face

According to a New York Times article published back in 2008, the wristwatch brand names are generally centered on the upper half of a watch, the hands are positioned at 10 and 2 to “frame the brand and logo,”  

With the little experience I have in photography and my knowledge of advertising, it was easy to put two and two together and fully understand the import of this. Product photography has to be done carefully; there are details you need to check out and this is definitely an example.

The placing of the dial at 10 past 10 dates as far back as 1926, the Hamilton Watch Company being one of the first to do so.

The dial on this Oris wristwatch is placed differently
due to the positioning of its logos.

In the cases where some watches don’t have their dial placed at 10 past 10, it’s simply because of additional functions or secondary dials on the face of the wristwatch which will be obscured by the 10 past 10 position.

It’s also noted that you can still place the dial at 8:20 and still have your logo or info in view but the placement of the dial would look like that of a sad face.

11 Screamer(s):

Eya Ayambem said...

Interesting write up Afronuts! I never knew all these.

Debby 'Baro said...

excellent lesson. This is what good research can do. You can imagine how much i have gained from this piece. Thanks Afro.

Myne Whitman said... simple in the end. Thanks, I love this kind of trivia.

jhazmyn said...

I actually never even though of this or noticed it.

We learn everyday indeed.

sykik said...

Lesson 101.....I never gave a thought to this . Thanks, very informative. I will use it to "form" for Hubby this evening that I don learn something new.

This is a very nice read. I never noticed that. Thank you. One more feather to my cap.

I've wondered about it too! Now I know ;)

Toinlicious said...

Interesting. I always wondered too

obiee said...

Nice work man.

Madame Sting said...

Never noticed.....interesting.

I have found this article very informative. Great article.