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Why the Apple Watch is always set to 10:09 in its marketing

The other day, I was looking up some promotional Apple Watch photos and the watch faces caught my eye. Since the very first Apple Watch, the company has always had its default watch faces display 10:09 as the time — and I had no idea why.

So I turned to Google. Unsurprisingly, what I found was actually pretty interesting: 10:09 isn't an Easter egg release date or an Apple in-joke; it's actually a long-held tradition in mechanical watch marketing. Engadget had a pretty great deep dive on this a few years ago:

The reason behind this practice boils down to marketing, with just a dash of consumer psychology to boot.Because a watch company's name and/or logo often resides directly underneath the 12, positioning the hands at 10 and 2 ensures that the company brand is not only visible, but framed in a symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing manner. The 10:10 time also has the added benefit of making it appear that the watch is smiling, albeit mechanically.

Now, most Apple Watch faces aren't mechanical — or even skeumorphically so — in nature, but it's not hard to believe that Apple wanted to pay tribute to watch makers of yore with a little hat tip to design. So that's why the Apple Watch faces are set to 10:09. Neat, huh?

  • HTC beat them to it years ago with all their phones at 10:08.
  • ...and as the article states, the watch industry beat HTC decades ago.
  • So why not 10:10 instead of 10:09? Sent from the iMore App
  • Because at 10:10, the minute hand would be at the 2 but the hour hand would be slightly past 10. 10:09 shows the hands slightly after 10 and slightly before 2. Look at your analog watch or clock and turn the hands. You'll see that 10:09 is the right symmetric position.
  • I just googled 'Rolex' and 'Omega' and a lot of their official images have hands at 10:08 or 10:10 too. It certainly doesn't seem to be consistent at 10:09. Sent from the iMore App
  • Every clock is set to 10:09 (which happens to be my birthday) 🤗 Sent from the iMore App
  • That's very true, Serenity. I've got several mechanical watches. When you look at the faces, you'll see, and it's partly true for Apple's watches as well, as you can see from the photos in the article, that at the "3" position is often the day/date complication. So that's no good. At the "6" position, we often have the manufacturer's name and/or Watch model designation too. Even more complications are between the "4" and "5" positions and the corresponding opposite side positions between the "7" and "8" positions. That doesn't leave too many places for the hands, except for the second hand, which is usually very thin, and so doesn't cover much. Unless there's no second hand because it's in its own small dial as a complication. Not to forget to mention are the top positions, where, again, occasionally, there may be complications between the "1" and "2", and opposite side "10" and "11". That's why mechanical watches have had that minute hand, not at 10:08, or 10:09, but at 10:10. That way, the hour hand barely scrapes beyond the "10" but the minute keeps well away from the middle of the "1" and "2" space. There are a lot of interesting Watch facts that few people out of the Watch industry know. If people are really interested in watches, I highly recommend the web site "HODINKEE", which, in Chek, means wristwatch (the founder is Chek). Or get the free app.
  • As a watch wearer I did know about the 10:10 for mechanical watches, but I never noticed apple followed this also. Thanks Ren!