Monday, 1 February 2016

Why Do Clocks on Display Always Show the Time As 10:10?

Ever been to a clock store? Carefully observe the timepieces on display. Each will have the default time set at 10:10. Do you know why?

Clocks showing time at 10:10
Source: King Framers (Pinterest)
Let’s come to the common beliefs.

The most stated reason suggests that this was the very time in which the first watch was invented by Peter Henlein. However, other contemporary clockmakers in Germany were already working on different types of timepieces. There’s no clear evidence that the watch of Henlein was the first one.

A 16th century watch - the earliest dated watch known
Source: Wiki
And all this happened in the 16th century, whereas there are a number of proofs that can attest to the fact that watches have been in use since time immemorial, in some form or the other.

Yet again, some say it’s a way to memorialise the time of death of Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln.

You’d be disappointed when you know that Luther King was shot at 6:01 in the evening and died at 7:05 pm on the same day. Lincoln was shot at 10:15 pm and died at 7:22 in the morning. Kennedy was shot at 12:30 in the afternoon and died at 1 pm.

Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln
Another speculation is, 10:10 denotes the time of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is set as default in every timepiece to mark the tragedy that led to major casualties.

However, even this proposition fails to satiate the query as Hiroshima was bombed with ‘Little Boy’ at 8:15 am and Nagasaki with ‘Fat Man’ at 11:02 am as per local time.

Nagasaki bombing
Source: Wiki
A third hypothesis says that 10:10 shows the ‘V’ shape in the clock, which stands for victory. The factuality of this hypothesis, too, remains in doubts. In fact, ‘V’ as the victory sign only came up during World War II. Sigh!

Victory sign by Winston Churchill
Source: The Pre-Read
Here’s the real reason why:

It’s purely aesthetics! At 10:10, you can observe all the key details of a timepiece’s face. This is the position in which the seconds, minutes, and hours hands are not overlapping and so, are visible. The manufacturer logo, which is usually present under 12 or next to 3, 6, and 9, is evident as well.

10:10 is the ideal default time to be displayed in timepieces
Source: PetaPixel
Moreover, at this position, all the hands are in symmetry, which evokes a sense of pleasure in a viewer. Also, if the timepiece depicts date and other such details, 10:10 is the moment which brings everything in sight.

Did you know?

The Apple Watch always displays the default time as 10:09. This has been done intentionally so that the company can make a statement with the product line. The motto is to depict the products as being ahead of their contemporary smartwatches.

Apple Watch showing the time as 10:09
Source: Engadget
Apple is not the first company to breach the age-old tradition. Popular watchmaker firm Rolex has chosen the time to be 10:10:31. Bell & Ross keeps it at 10:10:10. Tag Heuer has chosen 10:10:37. And Timex displays it as 10:09:36.

Apparently, Apple has made a silent claim that its products are better than everyone else’s. Indeed, “time has a wonderful way of showing what really matters.”

If you were a watchmaker too, what time would you choose to display?

Go on. Pour out your suggestions in the comment section below. Time’s on your side. :)