Interesting question! Over the years, I've been told by several people
that clocks' hands in advertisements are set at 10:10 because this was
the time of day when Abraham Lincoln was shot, or the time when he
died. This is a fascinating explanation, but there isn't a shred of
evidence for it (and, in fact, Lincoln was shot at 10:15 PM, and died
the next morning at 7:22). Exactly the same myth is sometimes reported
with John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King as the person being
memorialized in the clock ads.
I have gathered some information on the subject for you. The consensus
of opinion (confirmed by Timex) is that clock and watch hands in
advertisements are typically set at 10:10 so that the company's logo
will be well-displayed. In addition, this position of the hands
resembles a smile.
"Q: WHEN YOU SEE AN AD WITH A CLOCK IN IT THE HANDS ARE ALWAYS
POSITIONED AT 10:10?
A: WE CALLED TIMEX FOR YOUR ANSWER AND IT SAYS THE HANDS ON A CLOCK
ARE PLACED AT TEN-TEN BECAUSE IT'S A CREATIVE STANDARD INDUSTRY.
TIMEX SAYS THE HANDS ON TIMEPIECES ARE PLACED AT TEN-TEN SO THE
COMPANY LOGO ON THE FACE WILL BE FRAMED AND NOT BLOCKED BY THE HANDS.
TIMEX SAYS THE INDUSTRY STANDARD USED TO BE EIGHT-TWENTY BUT THAT
LOOKED TOO MUCH LIKE A FROWN AND CREATED AN UNHAPPY LOOK.
TIMEX SAYS IN ITS ADS, THE CLOCK HANDS ARE PLACED AT TEN-NINE AND
THIRTY SIX SECONDS, EXACTLY."
Answers to Ask Liz 2002: Watches set at 10:10
"Did you ever notice that the hands on clocks displayed for sale are
usually set at 10:10? There are many theories why it is done this way.
The most popular one is because the hands look like the clock has a
'smile' on its face instead of a frown and it frames the
manufacturer?s trademark if it is printed just above the center pipe.
Some manufacturers have displayed their clock hands at 3:00 and 9:00.
Yet, the hands of a displayed clock usually are not set to cover each
another or are they placed in straight lines such as 12:30 or 9:15.
This all might make some sense when you think about the emotional
marketing perspective. Manufacturers want you to see their product
'smiling' at you!"
Around Home, August 2003: Clock hands set at 10:10
"The answer is probably quite simply that it looks better,
aesthetically and practically, as the clock has a 'smile' on its face
(not just a marketing gimmick, it really does look better than a 'down
turned mouth' at 8.20) and, as others have said, because it keeps the
hands clear of signatures and other subsidiary dials. I note that not
every firm uses that position in their marketing though. Synchronome,
for example, appear to depict their dials at 3.00.' - Jonathan Betts
'The opinions I've read tend toward framing the maker's name on the
clock face. Viz: when the logo is placed above the center, the hands
are at 10:10 but when the logo is below the center, the hands are
shown at 8:20 framing the maker's name. Wristwatch advertising follows
this trend." - Les Lesovsky...
'Most manufacturers trademarks are just above the center pipe, and
having the hands at 10:10 causes your eye to naturally follow to the
trough, thus bringing your view right to the trademark....' and often
the Model name is centered under the center pipe, ruling out any hand
more or less straight down (between 5 and 7). Date windows most often
are at 9 or 3, and subsidiary seconds usually at 6. For aesthetic
reasons you want the two hands neither nearly covering each other nor
nearly in a straight line. By default the 10h10 looks pretty good." -
It has been suggested that the 10:10 position is used because it resembles a smile.
'I too have heard the 'smile' theory, which makes some sense from the
emotional marketing perspective. Equally likely is the fact that most
manufacturer's trademarks are just above the center pipe, and having
the hands at 10:10 causes your eye to naturally follow to the trough,
thus bringing your view right to the trademark.' - Tom Frank
Gordon T. Uber's Home Page: Why are Clock Hands Pictured at 10:10?
My Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: "why are clock hands" "10:10"
I hope this is helpful. If anything is unclear or incomplete, please
request clarification; I'll be glad to offer further assistance before
you rate my answer.