ads for watches and clocks
June 2, 2009 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Why do watch ads always show one hand on ten and the other on two?

Once I had been told or read this, I became nearly crazy looking at watch ads and sure enough, that is how they invariably depict watches in ads. Why or why do they do it this way?
posted by Postroad to Shopping (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This might be urban legend, but I heard that this is because at that angle both hands on the watch approximate the angle of an erect penis, and the ad is meant to appeal (somehow) to sexual urges. Strangely enough, I heard the same thing about the angle of the spoons depicted on cereal boxes.
posted by Simon Barclay at 7:04 AM on June 2, 2009

According to this article, "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.”
posted by Houstonian at 7:07 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I read in an old advertising book (sorry, no reference), that this way, it looks like the clock is smiling, and therefore people are more likely to purchase it. If you look at watches/clocks (that are not running) in a shop window, you'll see the same thing. Here's an reference.
posted by Atrahasis at 7:07 AM on June 2, 2009

The Straight Dope covered this pretty completely in their Why are clocks in ads always set at 8:20? article.
posted by dabradfo at 7:09 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

My instinct is to say that it's one of those things that just "looks right", like when certain words sound great in a certain order, but not quite right in another.

The response to that, of course, is that things "look right" or "sound right" because we're used to seeing them or hearing them that way - they're not so much right as familiar. Think about where you're *supposed* to hold your hands on a steering wheel when you drive - 10 and 2.

10 and 2 on a watch also happens to look neat, yet casual - which wouldn't be the case if the hands were on 12/3/6/9.
posted by Grimble at 7:11 AM on June 2, 2009

My hypothesis: (1) People designing all the thousands of watch ads out there felt it would be convenient to have a universally followed aesthetic, maybe for consistency's sake or maybe so there's one less decision to fuss over. (2) If there's going to be one time, 10:10 seems to be at least as good as any other.

Why is it s good? Well, it's symmetrical. Of course, 8:20 (mentioned above) is also symmetrical ... but drooping downward. 10:10 is positive -- pointing up. It happens to be about 10:10 right now, and when I look at my watch I see an enthusiastic check mark (an effect you wouldn't get from 1:50). While 11:05, for instance, would also be fairly symmetrical and pointing up, it would be tighter, more cramped, and probably less appealing than 10:10.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:20 AM on June 2, 2009

I had heard somewhere that the intention was to mimic a smile, like the watch would be friendly and smiling at you, and that the digital age has simply followed the convention out of a sense of Nostalgia. That is to say, Atrahansis has it, as far as my recollection.
posted by indiebass at 7:26 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Why is it s good?

Why isn't my proofreading good? Of course, I meant " ... so good."
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:26 AM on June 2, 2009

Recent article in the New Yorker (registration required for the full monty) confirms what others have said above. 1.) It's a good way to photograph the watch so that both hands show well and 2.) The watch looks like it's "smiling." (Or, at least happier than if the hands were photographed at 8:20.)
posted by Work to Live at 7:37 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

wow. this is going to end up like the arrow in the FedEx logo. Never would have noticed it, but now that I know about it, I'm going to end up seeing it every time.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:35 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

What Work to Live said, I remember just having read about this in the New Yorker...
posted by at 9:10 AM on June 2, 2009

The nuns in Catholic school told us that was the time Lincoln was shot!?
posted by jara1953 at 10:40 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I heard it was because most of the watch company names are at the top between the two hands, so your eyes are instantly drawn to the name.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 11:05 AM on June 2, 2009

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