Answer: the time is always 10:10. And, according to The New York Times, it’s all down to aesthetics, brand visibility and warm fuzzies.
Because brand names generally are centered on the upper half of a watch, hands positioned at 10 and 2 “frame the brand and logo,” said Andrew Block, executive vice president at Tourneau, the watch retailer, which has 51 stores worldwide. “It’s almost like an unwritten rule that everyone understands to photograph a watch a 10:10.”
In previous eras, the more popular time in ads was 8:20, which shared the attributes of being symmetrical and not overshadowing logos, but hands pointing down struck some as, well, a downer.
“It has the aesthetic of the smiley face to be 10 past 10, so we try whenever possible to opt for that,” Susanne Hurni, head of Ulysse Nardin’s advertising and marketing, said from the company headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland. She says the company occasionally makes exceptions, as it does for models now advertised in publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, when watches have secondary dials and windows — for the day of the week, calendar day and year — that would be obscured by the hands at 10 and 2.
Obviously digital watches don’t have the same requirements as analog. But Casio seems to have a penchant for 10.58.50.