Why Are Watches Set To 10 10?

Have you ever noticed that all the watches at your local watch shop seem to be set to 10:10 while on display? Unless they are running, most display watches have their hands at rest on this one, specific time. This has caused a lot of rumors about why watches are set to this time. 

There are rumors that watches are set to 10 10 in order to mark the most important days in modern history or remind us of some of history’s largest tragedies. There are also people who say that watches stay at 10:10 to honor some of history’s most important figures, but the truth is much more complicated. 

Let’s dispel the myths and find out the truth with why are watches set to 10 10. 

Myths Behind Watches Being Set to 10:10

Before we get to the truth behind why we set watches to 10:10 when they’re on displays and stores, we need to look at some of the most common myths.

Origin of the Watch
Origin of the Watch

There are plenty of rumors as to why watches are set to 10:10. After all, this seems like a pretty arbitrary time to pick. Surely, 10:10 must signify some major historical event or something worth commemorating?

Well, let’s take a look at the biggest reasons people think watches are set to 10:10. 

Honoring American Presidents

One of the most common myths that you’ll see about setting washes to 10 10 has to do with the memorial of American presidents. There’s a rumor that we set watches to 10:10 in order to honor presidents who lost their lives while in office.

This myth is pretty easy to dispel. There has never been a president who died in office who also died at 10:10. This myth is most often attributed to Abraham Lincoln. American presidents have been some of the most successful men to wear watches so this rumor does make a lot of sense. 

This can be quickly dispelled. President Lincoln was shot at 10:15 pm and died the next morning at 7:00 am. Neither of these times quite line up with watches being set to 10 10. 

What About the Inventor of the Watch?

Why Are Watches Set To 10 10?
Why are watches set to 10 10 ? This one is accidentally set to 1:50, but the effect is the same

There’s a persistent rumor that we set watches to 10:10 to honor Peter Henlein, the inventor of the watch.

Peter Henlein lived in the 15th century in Nuremberg. He’s widely credited with being the inventor of the very first watch. The first thing that complicates this myth is that while Peter Henlein gets credit for inventing the watch, there are actually several other inventors from different times and places who have created similar devices.

There also isn’t a meaningful connection between Peter Henlein’s life and the number 10 10. Records of his birth, death, and significant moments in his life don’t necessarily line up with this time. 

Victory During WWII

There’s also a rumor that we set watches to 10:10 in order to honor the victory of Allied Forces during World War II.

If you look at the way the hands of a watch are set when there at 10:10, it forms the letter V. This helps to establish a rumor that we set watches to 10:10 to celebrate V-day, the day when the Allies defeated fascist forces during World War II. The myth goes that watches all over the world stay at 10:10 to mark this historic occasion. 

However, this is just a rumor. There’s no historical evidence suggesting that this is why watches were set to 10:10 even though it is a little romantic. This myth has the least direct evidence against it, but there also isn’t much in the way of support, either. 

The Atomic Bomb

There’s another, darker, myth about why watches are set to 10:10. This myth suggest that we set watches to 10:10 in order to commemorate one of the most tragic moments in human history: the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

However, this just isn’t historically accurate. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima occured at  8:15am on August 6h, 1945 while the bomb dropped on Nagasaki happed at 11:02am on August 9, 1945. 

Much like the other myths on our list, there’s also just no historical evidence to suggest this myth is true. There are no congressional statements, comments from watchmaking associations, or other historic documents to suggest that any of these myths are the truth. 

This leaves us with one big question. Why do we set watches to 10 10 when we put them on display? 

The Reality Behind Watches Being Set to 10 10

Why Are Watches Set To 10 10?
There are many reasons to set a watch to 10 10

Watches are set to 10:10 for simple marketing reasons. The time 10:10 allows watch manufacturers to show off their logos, watch features, and create an attractive display that entices buyers. You can see this if you had your local watch shop and notice that the 10:10 hand placement typically doesn’t block any other dials or symbols on the watch. 

Let’s take a closer look. 

It’s Great For Marketing Watch Faces

When you’re trying to figure out how to buy the right watch, you want to be able to see all the features you’ll get. This is the big reason why watches are set to 10:10 while on display. 

The 10 10 placement keeps the hands of the watch out of the way of any logos, dials, or other features like a date display. This gives potential watch buyers a clear view of all of the features on the watches that they’re looking at. It also helps watch a manufacturer show off their creation as well as make sure that people can see their logos and branding on the face of the watch. 

Not All Watches Are Set to 10 10

There’s a lot that goes into designing and building a watch. When you head to a watch shop to buy a new watch or get a common repair like removing mist from a watch, you might not notice just how varied the designs really are. 

The next time you’re out browsing your local watch shop, take a look at the hand placement of different watches. You’ll notice that some brands don’t use the 10 10 placement because that would get in the way of some of the features on their watch. You also might notice that some watches have features laid out in a way that means that the hands can be at any position without blocking logos and dials. 

So, watches are put on display with their hands set temp to 10:10 because this attractively displays the logos and other features on the watch. You might hear rumors about watches being set to 10:10 to commemorate presidents and major historical events, but these are all rumors. 

Now that you know one of the best kept secrets of watches, what would you say the time of your watches on display to?