Editorial credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

Every watch is a piece of art. Watches are truly fascinating, and the way they work has intrigued many people for hundreds of years. The watch industry is very large, and there are new watches bought and sold internationally every day. Anyone buying a new watch may notice that the hands are usually set to 10:10 and may wonder why this seems to be the default time set for new watches.

Watches are set to 10:10 due to a tradition that started in the 1920s when Hamilton watches were set to 10:10 in order to prevent obscuring the logo on the watch face. Watches are still set to this time because they are more pleasing to look at and are, therefore, more likely to sell.

There are several reasons for new watches to be set to 10:10, and some are far more obvious than others. Let’s take the time to explore why new watches, even new smartwatches, are set to 10:10 when they are displayed on shelves, in advertising, and when they are sold new.

Why Are New Watches Always Set To 10:10?

Every watch that is displayed in advertising, and all watches on shelves that are not activated, are all set to display the time at 10:10. If you have ever browsed through catalogs or online sales and noticed this time on every watch face, you may be wondering why watches are set like this.

The truth is that there are several reasons why new watches are always set to 10:10. Almost every watch that is not activated, even if it is only displayed in advertisements, is set to 10:10, and there are good reasons for it; some of which are more obvious than others.

Here are the main reasons why new watches are set to 10:10.


The main reason why watches are set to this time is due to a tradition that was established in the 1920s by the Hamilton watch company. Every watch produced by Hamilton was made with the Hamilton logo displayed prominently on the face of the watch.

If the watch hands were orientated at any time other than 10:09, the Hamilton logo would be obscured by the hands. For this reason, every Hamilton watch was displayed with the time 10:09.

This tradition is carried on by watchmakers and retailers, but rather than keeping the watch set to 10:09, the watches are now set to 10:10 for the sake of ease, aesthetics, and in case the watch is equipped with a small digital face, as 10:10 is far more symmetrical and pleasing in digital time than 10:09.

This tradition was born out of necessity, and even though it is no longer necessary, it is something that is carried on as a legacy in the industry.


The next biggest reason why new watches are set to 10:10 is simply that it looks better. As was true for Hamilton watches, most watchmakers display their emblem on the front of the watch face, and when the hands of the timepiece are positioned at 10:10, they are unlikely to obscure the emblem, and the watch generally looks more aesthetically pleasing.

When a watch is on display, it is there to be sold. Anything that the watchmaker or retailer can do to improve the changes of the watch being bought is a benefit, including making the watch look as good as possible.

When watch hands are positioned in this way, the watch looks more symmetrical, more aesthetically pleasing, and generally more appealing to potential buyers, especially when the overall design of the watch is complemented by these hand positions as well.


This reason may seem somewhat nonsensical, but the truth is that among the reasons why watches are displayed with their hands at 10:10 is because this hand position gives the watch the appearance that it is smiling.

Placing a smile on the face of the watch makes it look “happier” and causes potential watch buyers to be more inclined to purchase the watch, as it is associated with happy feelings and positive incentives.

If a watch is smiling, it looks better to the human brain than if it is frowning, and the watch is, therefore, more pleasing, and it is more likely to be bought.


The last reason that we will cover here is that watches that are set to 10:10 have been proven by phycologists to be more pleasing and to sell better than watches set to different times.

Numerous phycological studies have been conducted on the topic, and the results have shown that watches set to this time are perceived to be better and are associated with positive feelings and are, therefore, more likely to be sold.

All of these reasons mean that watchmakers and watch retailers set their watches to 10:10 when they are displayed or advertised, and it improves the way their watches look and subsequently improves how many watches they can sell.

Are All New Watches Set To 10:10?

If you are looking for a watch and notice that most of them are set to 10:10, you may also notice that there are few watches that are not set to this time and may wonder why they do not follow the same standard as other watches on display.

While most watches are set to 10:10 when displayed or advertised, there are other watch hand settings that can be symmetrically pleasing as well. Not all people find the setting of 10:10 to be the most satisfying watch hand position.

For this reason, some watchmakers and retailers will display their watches with the hands set to 09:00, 03:00, or 6:00. All of these watch hand positions are symmetrically pleasing as they are right0angles and are always very pleasing to the eye.

If the watch face and overall design of the watch complement these hand positions, then the watch may look better at these settings than at 10:10, and so the watch will be set accordingly. What is true for one watch may not be true for another. Are Digital And Smart Watches Also Set To 10:10?


At the end of it, most watches are set to 10:10 simply because it is more pleasing to see. Watches that are set to times that make the hands appear uneven are far less pleasing to look at, and if something is not nice to look at, it is unlikely to sell well.

Most watchmakers and retailers set their watches to this time for these reasons, and this tradition will likely never change. There are exceptions, but most watches look their best at 10:10.


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