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This is why watches are always set to the same time in adverts

You'll never look at a watch advert in the same way again

Doug Bolton
Wednesday 23 March 2016 18:29 GMT
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A watchmaker works on a watch mechanism at the Baselworld trade show in Basel, Switzerland
A watchmaker works on a watch mechanism at the Baselworld trade show in Basel, Switzerland (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Have you ever wondered why watches are always set to the same time in adverts?

Chances are you've never noticed, which probably means the advertisers have done their jobs properly.

If you look at any advert or promotional image of a watch, you'll notice that it's probably set to 10:10. Searching 'watch' on Amazon brings up thousands of results, but it's difficult to find a picture of a timepiece which isn't set to that particular time.

Watches are set to 10:10 in almost every promotional image out there (Pic: Rolex)
Watches are set to 10:10 in almost every promotional image out there (Pic: Rolex) (Rolex)

There's a very good reason for this dogmatic fixation to 10:10. As revealed in a New York Times article, watch hands positioned at this time nicely "frame the brand and logo," according to Andrew Block, executive vice president of watch dealer Tourneau.

Since most brand logos are at the top of the watchface, setting the time to 12:05 or 1:20 would cover them up.

Of course, you could flip things around to 4:40 and get the hands completely out the way of the logo, but that might not appeal to consumers - as Susanne Hurni, head of marketing and advertising at Ulysse Nardin told the paper, keeping the hands facing up makes the watch resemble a smiley face.

Watches set to other times just don't look as aesthetically pleasing (Pic: Kent Wang/Flickr, published under CC BY-SA 2.0 license)
Watches set to other times just don't look as aesthetically pleasing (Pic: Kent Wang/Flickr, published under CC BY-SA 2.0 license) (Kent Wang/Flickr, published under CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Unless you want all your products to be frowning at potential customers from the pages of a catalogue, it's a bad idea to have the hands facing down, in the bottom half of the watch.

Timex sets all their watches to 10:09:56 in marketing images, even if they don't have hands (Pic: Timex)
Timex sets all their watches to 10:09:56 in marketing images, even if they don't have hands (Pic: Timex) (Timex)

Other watch brands get even more finicky. Timex always photographs their watches while they're reading 10:09:36, for example - having the second hand slightly off-centre prevents any branding or dials in the bottom half of the watch from being obscured. They even stick to this time in pictures of handless digital watches.

So, if you want to sell a watch, set it to 10:10 for the most aesthetically pleasing picture. Even if you don't, you'll never be able to look at a watch advert without noticing the time again.

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