Apple Watch: Why it's set at 10:09

Apple Watch

One of the most retweeted posts from Monday's Apple event was a joke about the time shown on their new watch.

As Apple fans obsessed over every detail, Twitter user Pratiik Rege joked that the watch was set at 10:09 in all images because 10:10 was "just too mainstream."

He actually may have been right.

You may not have noticed but the default setting in adverts for many new watches is 10 minutes past 10 o'clock.

Many well-known brands, including Rolex, Swatch and Tag Heuer, set their watches to this time for their adverts.

Advert for Rolex

Could Apple have set their watch at 10:09 to suggest they are ahead of the curve?

Perhaps, but a quick look at other watch adverts suggest Apple are not the first to deviate from the 10 past 10 time.

That's because many companies show their watches at this time purely for aesthetic reasons.

It makes sense therefore to adjust it by just a few minutes around this standard time according to what particular brands think suit their timepiece best.

However it is thought that around 10 past 10 shows the watch at the best angle.


If the logo is directly underneath the 12, this time also has the advantage of 'framing' the brand name between the two hands.

It's a symmetrical time too making it pleasing to the eye.

Often manufacturers photograph the watch with the second hand in a position which emphasises this proportionality: pointing either at the 12, the 6, the 8 or the 4.

Another favourite time with clock vendors has been 20 past 8, because of its symmetry.

20 past 8

However 10 past 10 is thought to be a more "positive" time by brand experts, as it looks as if the face of the watch is smiling.

Digital clocks are often sold at 12:08 for similar aesthetic reasons.

It is thought to be pleasing on the eye, with the increase in pixels "satisfying" the potential buyer.

This decidedly analogue answer hasn't always satisfied though, with some people believing there are more sinister forces at work.

Apple Watch
Image caption Apple will make its smartwatches available for pre-order from 10 April on its website

A favourite conspiracy theory is that clocks show 10 past 10 because that is the exact time of Abraham Lincoln's death.

However, although he was shot at 10 past 10 in the evening, he died at around 7am the following morning.

Another theory is that the clock is set at this time because that was the time that President John F Kennedy was assassinated. However John F. Kennedy, was shot in the head in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 pm.

Another theory states that the Hiroshima atomic bomb exploded at 10:10 and clocks have been stopped at this time to remember this.

Apple Watch

It seems unlikely that watch manufacturers would want to associate their product with this event though. As well as the fact it happened at 8:16 am Japanese time.

There are other conspiracy theories too.

Fans of the Da Vinci code may want to interpret the 10:10 sign as being a chalice V symbol, the symbol for the sacred.

Some say it was the time Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament at this time (it wasn't: he was caught at around midnight on November 5).


This isn't the first time Apple fans have noticed a time-based quirk on their favourite products.

The time shown on iPhones is 9.42am.

Former Apple executive Bob Borcher said it shows this time because 9:42 AM was the exact hour, at which the iPhone was unveiled back in 2007.


Scott Forstall, who led the original development team for the iPhone and iPad explained further: it was so that when the product could be displayed on the big screen about 40 minutes into the presentation, the time on the device would match the time it was unveiled.

Apple's moved on from that. Half an hour on.

It's likely that Apple decided to set its time at 10:09 to establish itself within watch-making tradition.

Tim Cook told Bloomberg that during the design of the watch, Jon Ive, who led the project, "immersed himself in horological history."

It may just be a second in time, but 10:09 is further evidence that Apple is taking its new watch very seriously. This is not being referred to as a 'smartwatch', this is a watch that both wearable tech and the watch industry should take seriously.

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