Why is 10:10 the default setting for most clocks and watches?
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For aesthetics, quite simply.
The 10:10 position comes with a number of benefits:
- The hands are not overlapping, so they can be seen.
- Symmetry: The arrangement of the hands is balanced, making the face of the watch more visually appealing.
- Additional elements on the face, like date windows or secondary dials—usually placed near the 3, 6, or 9 positions—aren’t obscured.
According to the folks at Timex (who set their products at precisely 10:09:36), the standard setting used to be 8:20, but that position makes the face look like it’s frowning. To make the products look “happier,” the setting was flipped into a smile. (Occasionally, you’ll still see the 8:20 setting on some clocks or watches where the manufacturer's logo is at bottom of the face, above the 6).