Why Apple Watch shows 10:09 in all its ads

Every Apple Watch you see in an ad shows a time of 10:09. According to the linked article:

Watchmakers have traditionally chosen 10:10 as their display time because it ensures that the watchmaker’s logo, which is usually engraved beneath the 12, isn’t obscured by the watch hands. On top of that, having the hands at 10:10 is symmetrical.

Apple, however, chooses to display a slightly different time on all of its Apple Watch promotions, setting the time one minute ahead to 10:09 rather than 10:10.

It’s no mistake, either. Apple has a history of choosing a display time that has some significance, famously setting the time on all of its iPhone promotional materials and images to 9:41, the approximate time of day when Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone to the world back in 2007.

So why 10:09 for the Apple Watch? Apple appears to be making a statement about being slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to smartwatches, and the facts back this theory up.

My 2 cents. I think this is more about symmetry, about attention to detail, than about being ahead of the curve. At 10:10, the hour hand will be 1/6 of the way between the 10 and the 11 on the watch face. If the minute hand is precisely on the 2 (as it would be at 10:10), the minute and hour hands would not be symmetrical. At 10:09, the hands would be much closer to symmetrical perfection.

That sounds more like Apple logic to me.

  • Struckpaper

    Actually, the real reason is that, at 10:09, when you extend the hands to the circumference of a round watch surface, the intersections would form two corners of a golden rectangle (the other vertices can be located by symmetry or by using 8:18).

  • IcySnowballs

    Don’t overthink it. Most watchmakers use a time around 10:10 but there are plenty of examples of those not using exactly 10:10. Omega uses 10:08:37. IWC 10:08:36, Certina 10:08

    • StruckPaper

      Exactly. Now overthink just a bit and perhaps you’ll get it.

  • nizy

    Having years ago designed clocks for a small clock company, from what I remember the main reason we used 10:10 was that retailers like it because of the aesthetics. It looks nicer if all clocks are set approximately to the same time. It looks really odd when you have clocks with different times next to each other. I’m sure part of the reason that it does look better is the symmetry though.

  • The “ahead of the curve” theory is pure bullshit; 10:09 is one minute behind 10:10. I like your theory much better, Dave.

    But I also think 10:09 is a more attractive time for the digital faces than 10:10. That might factor into it too.

  • Player_16

    Aesthetics is the most common reason.

    One is that the hands are kept from overlapping. Having them on both sides of the watch face ensures that the hands themselves are visible and can be appreciated.

    The position also allows the hands to look nice on the face of the timepiece. The 10:10 position is symmetrical, and the human brain tends to appreciate symmetry and orderliness.

    Another reason is that key details on the face of the watch or clock usually remain visible at 10:10. The logo of the manufacturer is usually found under the 12, and sometimes next to the 3-, 6-, and 9-o’-clock positions. Logos found under the 12 are nicely framed by 10:10 hands.

    Finally, the 10:10 hands look “happy” due to the fact that the hands look like a smile.


  • Hans