Within a display of watches on sale or a watch advertisement, there lies an easily missed but very interesting fact: that almost all the watches show 10 minutes past 10 o’clock. This “rule” is especially prominent in expensive, famous watch brands.
The reason for this is very simple.
In 1926, the Hamilton Watch Company first used 10:10 on their watch advertisement so that the needles did not hide the company logo, found on the upper part of the watch face. Around the 1940’s, other famous brands such as Rolex and Timex began using this as well for the same reason. 10:10 not only allow the company logo to be seen easily, but it also framed it to emphasise the logo.
The industry standard back then was actually 8:20 (for the same reason). However, the companies believed that this looked like a frowning face, :(, and so they flipped it around to 10:10, as this looked more like a :), which customers would feel more encouraged by.
Like this, the second hand also follows a similar rule where it points around 30 seconds (but usually not exactly 30 seconds). This causes all three hands to point away from each other with some asymmetry, giving an aesthetically pleasing appearance. For this reason, Timex uses 10:09:36 while Rolex uses 10:10:31.
Of course this rule does not apply to digital watches, only analogue ones. But some companies still prefer to use a standardised time for all of their products, and Apple is a good example. All iPhone ads show 9:42am, because this is roughly the time the first iPhone was announced to the world.