Why Are Watches Always Photographed at Ten Past Ten? 

A tweet by Marco Arment caught my attention this morning:

Quick, it’s 10:09, take all of your WatchKit screenshots!

— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) February 25, 2015

I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, and when I looked at the @replies, I found this nugget from Daniel Ernst:

@marcoarment http://t.co/NpzmrwQnPV

— Daniel Ernst (@danielhsqr) February 25, 2015

That tweet linked to a 2008 New York Times piece by Andrew Adam Newman.

Newman’s explanation is summarized here:

[This] turns out to be a simple matter of aesthetics.

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.”

In previous eras, the more popular time in ads was 8:20, which shared the attributes of being symmetrical and not overshadowing logos, but hands pointing down struck some as, well, a downer.

Newman also notes a few other marketing consistencies such as ‘Monday the 28th’.