TThe world will end at exactly 10:10

~ 31 March 2004 ~

Apparently time will rest indefinitely at 10:10. Or at least the world of product photography leads us to believe it will.

Confused by my delusive headline? Don’t be. Feast your eyes on this to see where I’m headed:

(a collection of four analog watches)

Notice any similarities between these four watches?

If you said, “They’re all analog,” I say,

“Here, let me make it blatantly obvious:

(same four analog watches with time highlighted)

This intentional synchronicity—yes, intentional—was shown to me years ago by a junior high school teacher with an ostensible love of analog timepieces.

But he never explained the “Why?” behind it.

To this day I still don’t fully understand the ‘why’ behind it. I like to believe I know a little something about photography. But not a lot, I’ll admit. My little brother seems to be able to hold his own with a camera, but don’t expect to see my snaps in the next issue of National Geographic.

Alas, the synchronicity still puzzles me. And it’s everywhere you see nearly any analog watch by nearly any manufacturer—newspaper ads, billboards, Froogle, you name it. Like there’s a secret 10:10 alliance or something. (If you weren’t aware of the 10:10 norm before reading this entry, you’ll notice it every time you see a watch now. Promise.)

I’m guessing it has something to do with aesthetics. I wouldn’t expect to see something flawless like 12:00 or 06:00, so perhaps 10:10 is unobtrusive yet still pleasing to the eye.

Perhaps it’s just that—unobtrusive. Like it penetrates the consumer psyche appropriately without drawing unnecessary attention to itself or something.

For example, consider this billboard:

Saturn car billboard

From the day I first saw this (and every day since on the way to work), the fact that the wheel is perfectly squared off annoys me to no end. If were only slightly tilted, it wouldn’t draw unnecessary attention in such a glaring manner. </end2¢>

Anyhow, if any of you have additional wisdom, please enlighten me.



Veer Veer: Visual Elements for Creatives.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   elf ~ 31 March 2004 at 12:03 AM

the 10:10 position was pioneered by timex for their watch ads. with the hands in that specific position, it was possible to see the entire word “Timex” on the watch face and bring attention to this word.

2   Michael Preidel ~ 31 March 2004 at 02:51 AM

As far as I know the 10:10 position is used because it looks like a smile - imagine 7:20…

3   Tomas ~ 31 March 2004 at 02:57 AM

Elf: That would also have been possible if the hands both pointed to 6:30, or to 5:40, or 3:45, or plenty of other examples, even 2:50 (same as 10:10 but the exact opposite).

I think that the _specific_ 10:10 position has been chosen because of aesthetic reasons. It just looks best.

4   Ryan Brill ~ 31 March 2004 at 07:13 AM

“If you weren’t aware of the 10:10 norm before reading this entry, you’ll notice it every time you see a watch now.”

I hadn’t noticed this before (nor had it been pointed out to me). I just googled it, and you’re right. Any watch that points to a different time is, indeed, the exception. Very interesting.

5   pup ~ 31 March 2004 at 07:24 AM

several reasons

6   Cameron ~ 31 March 2004 at 08:20 AM

Nice, pup.

7   sergio ~ 31 March 2004 at 04:44 PM

Actually, Cameron, the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.

8   tim ~ 02 April 2004 at 02:58 PM

michael is right from what i know…

9   Martin ~ 03 April 2004 at 12:49 PM

Since the explanation I’ve heard (on more than one occasion) of the origin of this ubiquitous practice stands as something of an alternative to those given so far, I thought it’d be worth imparting here.

I’ve heard that it’s to do with a kind of theorectical hybrid of Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism. You probably know where I’m going now. The 10:10 ‘position’ (there you go) is supposed to represent parted legs which, naturally, reveal the genitalia. So we associate at a deep, unconscious level the pleasure of sex with the product etc. etc….

However, I can’t remember ever seeing any product photography with clockfaces set to 5.45…. So much for penetrating the consumer psyche appropriately. ;)

10   Nick ~ 04 April 2004 at 10:09 AM

Check ok the online watch retailer at:

Under their ‘about us’ section they have a section entitled - ‘why 10 past 10’.

Apparently it is because it nicely frames the manufacturer’s name, and doens’t obscure any of the other dials and features.

11   Joe ~ 04 April 2004 at 05:24 PM

This site looks like


12   Ed ~ 06 April 2004 at 03:34 PM

Joe - “Wierd”

This word looks like


13   Didier Hilhorst ~ 09 April 2004 at 08:09 PM

Seems I’m a bit late to the party but let me add my thoughts anyway. I think it’s all about symmetry. So 10:10 fits that criteria. So does the wheel. From research in the area of psychology scientists have concluded that humans prefer a perfectly identical left and right side of the face. Again symmetry. People that have a symmetrical face (damn, odd word) or atleast as close as possible are perceived to be more handsome or pretty than the ones with (small) flaws.

Overall symmetry is a widely used standard in design. Symmetry inspires perfection both mathematical and from an attractiveness point of view. So why not 3:15 or 12:30 on the watch? Well, that would look a bit odd. The 10:10 just looks best and moreover feels like the watch is actually functioning. It’s little things like these that make it all so interesting I guess.


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