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The Science Behind Why Watches are Set to 10:10 in Advertising Images.

Collage of different angles of omega aqua terra watch

In the world of advertising, every detail is meticulously crafted to evoke a specific response from consumers. One such detail that often goes unnoticed by the untrained eye is the time displayed on watches in advertisements. Have you ever wondered why almost every watch advertisement features the time set to 10:10? Is it just a coincidence, or is there a deeper psychological and scientific rationale behind this common practice? Let's delve into the fascinating world of marketing psychology and explore the reasons behind this ubiquitous phenomenon.

Symmetry and Balance: Setting the time on a watch to 10:10 creates a symmetrical and balanced visual composition. The position of the hour and minute hands at this time forms a V-shape, framing the brand logo or other important features of the watch dial. This arrangement enhances the overall aesthetics of the watch and makes it visually appealing to potential buyers.

Brand Identity Reinforcement: Placing the hands of the watch at 10:10 positions the brand logo or name at the center of the dial, where it receives maximum visibility. This strategic placement reinforces the brand identity and ensures that it remains the focal point of the advertisement. Additionally, the symmetrical arrangement of the hands draws attention to the logo, imprinting it in the viewer's memory.

Historical Legacy: The tradition of setting watches to 10:10 dates back to the early days of watch advertising, when it was believed to commemorate significant events such as the end of World War I or the death of Abraham Lincoln. Over time, this practice became standardized across the industry and is now deeply ingrained in watch marketing culture.

And lastly psychological priming 'smiling face effect' researchers explored the idea that displaying the time of 10:10 sold more watches than other displayed times because the hands resembled a smile and would leave viewers in a better mood when compared to other hand arrangements.

In a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers posited that a watch that showed 10:10 would be more appealing visually than one set to a “neutral” time like 11:30. They also wanted to see if a time that resembled a “sad face” at 8:20 would have the opposite effect.

( above images: source: google images )

The researchers note that the tendency to use 10:10 was not established as the norm until the 1950s. Prior to that, watches were almost always set to a time of 8:20, which had the aesthetic advantage of being symmetrical while at the same time not hiding a logo.

“Watches set at 10:10 showed a significant positive effect on the emotion of the observer and the intention to buy. However, watches set at 8:20 did not show any effect on the emotion or the intention to buy,” the researchers found.

“Moreover, watches set at 10:10 induced in women significantly stronger ratings of pleasure than in men. The data of the second experiment show that participants consistently perceive high resemblance between watches set at 10:10 and a smiling face as well as high resemblance between watches set at 8:20 and a sad face.”

The researchers say that this study proves for the first time that there is empirical evidence for the notion that using watches with a time setting that resembles a smiling face, like the ubiquitous 10:10, can positively affect the emotional response of the user even if the viewer is not aware of the fact that showing that time induces a positive effect.

The full research paper can be read in Frontiers in Psychology.

"Stopping Advertising To Save Money is Like Stopping Your Watch To Save Time." - Henry Ford





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