Time stopped at 10:09

The rich and sunny planet Ursa Minor Beta has the quite peculiar property that most of its surface consists of subtropic coastline. Even more peculiar, on this world it’s always Saturday afternoon.

From Wikipedia – Places in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
(Thanks, Oyvind)

And of course you would want to live on a planet where time stopped Saturday afternoon!

Matterhorn and watch commercial

I have just visited Switzerland. The home of high quality watches. And the home of huge amounts of commercials for the high quality watches. I decided to check a little fact that most people involved in marketing know of. The world of watch commercials is a world where time stopped at about 10:09.

Click the pictures for larger versions:

Watch 10:09 Watch 10:09 Watch 10:09 Watch 10:09

Yes. It’s a fact. Time stopped at about 10:09!

All rules have exceptions. One German watch was 2:50. But we’re still talking about the same graphical appearance of the watch.

Ten to two

And, yes I know. Commercials from a world where the watch can show something completely different exist. I even discovered some of them in Geneva. You can find several explanations for the 10:09 rule. Here is one of them:

“Ten past ten”
In the age of science, technological innovations make headway at a fast pace, as a result of which new products enter the market everyday. This obviously necessitates appropriate exposure of the products to ensure its acceptability among the masses through various modes. The publicity ads are designed keeping in mind the state of mind of the average probable user/buyer, so as to be successful in capturing the clientele.

For instance, whenever we see a publicity ad for watches, irrespective of the brand or the company, the figure of the watch is invariably shown at “ten past ten” as the time. This being so, it leads us to search as to why the watch is invariably shown to be set with its arms to say “ten past ten”. The experts in the field of publicity feel that a watch showing “ten past ten” is the best placement of the two arms of the watch and it makes the appearance of the watch very elegant and in a state of equilibrium.

From the aesthetic angle, the anth- ropologists explain this setting of the watch as a face symbolic of gleeful reception which gives cheers to a viewer/reader. The two arms of the watch equally stretched divergently upwards symbolise receiving a person warmly with open arms. That is why the watch is invariably shown “ten past ten”.

In the ad the reader gets drawn towards it and, being eye to eye with the figure of the watch at “ten past ten”, feels warmly attracted towards it.

As against this, if the watch shows “12’O clock”, the bigger arm absents the lower arm which eludes the full face of the watch from being viewed. Similar shall be the case if the watch shows “3.15 and 8.45”.

Further, if the watch is shown to be displaying “8.20 a.m., p.m.,” it symbolises the arms stretched divergently though yet being downwards. It is comparable to cold reception being accorded to the viewers.

Conclusively thus, “ten past ten” is the ideal state of the arms of a watch shown in the publicity material as it draws the attention of the reader very warmly. This fulfils the core purpose for which the advertisement is released by the promotors.


Time stopped at 10:09

15 thoughts on “Time stopped at 10:09

  1. Simon Bedak says:

    Interesting stuff, I wonder if the decline of digital watches could be attributed to it and, conversely, if the ubiquitous logo of the “Nike” company mightn’t be taking advantage of the same 10:09 shape.

    Simon Bedak
    Wagga Wagga NSW Australia

  2. Well. I don’t think the good old Nike Swoosh has anything to do with Swiss watches. Still, I understand what you mean.

    The Watch

    The arms from the watch and the Nike Logo.


    This immediately leads me to the old logo of the biggest telco in Norway, Telenor:

    Parts of it is supposed to show a person stretching his or hers arms:

    But, the best thing about the old Telenor logo is the fact that it looks completely like a clown if you add two dots:

    Maybe that’s why Telenor just changed their logo to a propeller that they don’t want us to call a propeller. But that’s another story…

  3. Trond says:

    Interesting. I didnt see that when I was Geneva for one year in 2004. Suppose I didnt think of it :). I found the ad from Zermatt “So do the germans” quite funny…

  4. The story from Mark Hancock has an interesting fact as well:

    I have seen digital alarm clocks set to show the time 10:10 p.m. – the “happy hands” time – although digital clocks don’t have hands.


  5. anant says:

    I have heard two different theories. One of the theories say that when Alexander died, the clocks stopped working as he had conquered the world as well as time. Of course, this is hard to believe.

    The other theory says that when Hiroshima was rocked with the atom bomb, clocks stopped working and the time was freezed. Again, I would believe this one only if there is some scientific explanation to it. But for now, Damanjit’s explanation seems most apt.

  6. I’ve noticed that about clocks displayed in stores, as well. One of the things that makes me happy about 10:10 is that it feels so early in the day — I see the clock and think, “lots of time to get stuff done!” Then I look at the functioning clock and see that it’s 11:20 or 12:50 or 3:45, and the illusion is blown….

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