Sunday, August 02, 2009

From Darkness Unto Light

My friend calls me out of the blue from the hills where he is currently visiting on a business venture, to find out if I knew why clocks across the globe were set at 10.10 when they are displayed. I was clueless. Most other folks I spoke to seem to be aware of the phenomenon of clocks being set at this particular time, though they were not sure why it was so. I felt blissfully ignorant and a little embarassed.

I had to quickly google for the answers and get back to him lest he lost a bet to his friends. Apparently, they couldn't come to a conclusion about the 10.10 phenonmenon, but my friend claims that he logically concluded it was nothing more than a marketing strategy, and according to the answers I found on google, he was bang on!

So for those of you who are not aware of this 10.10 logic, here goes:

1. Smile Theory
It is believed by the showrooms across the world that the 10.10 time of a watch looks like a face that has a smile. So the watch is happy that it is being worn by you. So in order to begin the sale with a smile,it is kept at this time

2. Aesthetics
It is believed that a sales man at a jewelry store found that some watches sold faster then others, and that the ones remaining were always ones with the hands in the lower range of the face. He started to experiment, and found that 10:10 is the best spot to sell watches. Later studies have found that if something is presented well, people are willing to pay more for it.

3. The 10:10 position (sometimes 10:12 or 10:08) was adopted for pictures of clocks and watches because it is symmetric and looks better. Today the symmetric positions are both aesthetic and customary. Other symmetric hand positions are also used, but not as frequently. Examples include 8:20, 8:18, and 2:50. Reviewing some Seth Thomas clock catalog illustrations, I see a gradually increasing symmetry of the hands as the catalogs progress from 1878 to 1940.

"We always put hands to 10.10 here and in other collections I'm responsible for. The answer is probably quite simply that it looks better, aesthetically and practically, as the clock has a 'smile' on its face (not just a marketing gimmick, it really does look better than a 'down turned mouth' at 8.20) and, as others have said, because it keeps the hands clear of signatures and other subsidiary dials. I note that not every firm uses that position in their marketing though. Synchronome, for example, appear to depict their dials at 3.00." - Jonathan Betts

"The opinions I've read tend toward 'framing' the maker's name on the clock face. Viz: when the logo is placed above the center, the hands are at 10:10 but when the logo is below the center, the hands are shown at 8:20 framing the maker's name. Wristwatch advertising follows this trend." - Les Lesovsky

"Thomas A. Frank wrote: '...most manufacturers trademarks are just above the center pipe, and having the hands at 10:10 causes your eye to naturally follow to the trough, thus bringing your view right to the trademark....' and often the Model name is centered under the center pipe, ruling out any hand more or less straight down (between 5 and 7). Date windows most often are at 9 or 3, and subsidiary seconds usually at 6. For aesthetic reasons you want the two hands neither nearly covering each other nor nearly in a straight line. By default the 10h10 looks pretty good." - Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

"I too have heard the 'smile' theory, which makes some sense from the emotional marketing perspective. Equally likely is the fact that most manufacturer's trademarks are just above the center pipe, and having the hands at 10:10 causes your eye to naturally follow to the trough, thus bringing your view right to the trademark." - Tom Frank

Time of Abraham Lincoln's DeathU.S. President Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, although he was shot at 10:15 p.m. on April 14, 1865. Although this has been suggested, I doubt that the position of the hands commemorates the time of Lincoln's assassination or death.
(Sourced online: Link lost)


Anonymous said...

As I keep telling you, you should have called me before you googled! I knew the answer. Anyway that was a good write up - You are improving your General knowledge, you see, since the day u started talking to me! ;)

aquamarine said...

sorry, who art thou?