Why The Time Is Always 10:09:36
PG notices details, sometimes. One thing is the time on clocks and watches in ads. The time is 10:09:36. Sometimes, it is 01:51:25. There are occasional exceptions, but 10:09:36 seems to be an industry standard. This is a repost. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
It focuses attention on the top part of the watch, and makes the bottom part visible. Typically, the logo of the manufacturer is framed by the hands. The manufacturer wants the logo to be visible in the ads.
The hands lifted upward make a welcoming gesture. If you hold your arms out at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, it will look like you are about to hug someone. This shape also looks like a smile.
After this, we get into the myths. At this particular time (10:09:36) US deployed the atom bomb on Japan. This particular time is used to remind people of the US dominance. A bit of research into pre atom bomb advertising might disprove that, but PG thinks that is too much work.
Another hypothesis is that Abraham Lincoln was shot at 10:15 pm on April 14, 1865, and died at 7:22 the next day. How this translates into 10:09:36 is anyone’s guess. However, standard time was not used in the United States until 1883. The precise “time” of Mr. Lincolns retirement is not known.
Someone wrote the Timex company about this issue.
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.”
Another source discusses this issue when the “creative standard industry” was 8:20. At that time people still said it was the time that Abe Lincoln was shot and or died.
Yet another source, the poetically named stupidquestion.net, has a few more tidbits. It seems like in the 1880’s, pocket watches became popular. In ads, the case was shown more than the face. The omega watchmaker established the 10:08:35 standard in 1915, and the industry followed suit. This would also seem to contradict the atom bomb theory given above.
PG has always wondered something else. Are all photographs for watch ads shot at 10:09:36? If not, then the ads are a lie. According to StupidQuestions, watchmakers send out non functioning dummy watches that are frozen at a certain time. PG (who does not wear a watch, but uses wall clocks) says this makes him question the honesty of the ad.