10:10: Watch the hands

Q: Hey Ace, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but every ad in a magazine that I have ever seen always shows a time of 10 minutes after 10. Even with weird watches with separate hour and minute hands, they still show 10 after 10. Whassup?—Chris Chronos

A:While Ace isn’t entirely sure what you mean by “weird watches with separate hour and minute hands,” Chris—you are aware that digital clocks are kind of the new kids on the block, yes?—he does know of what you speak. Ace took a few magazines from C-VILLE Weekly’s spankin’ new newsstand (hey kids, come in and buy a few copies!) and flipped through them in an attempt to solve your timely question.

He hit the jackpot in his favorite magazine, Esquire. (Ace would like to point out, by the way, that he was fielding readers’ questions long before Esquire’s upstart Answer Fella ever typed his first Q & A.) In the first half of the mag Ace found four watch ads from the high rolling likes of Rolex, Louis Vuitton and Elini. Three out of four featured hands on the 10 and 2. We’ll get to the other one in a minute.

Ace wasn’t surprised. He’s actually been aware of this little nugget since his salad days as a college undergrad when his writing professor filled him in on the watch-ad secret. But to get some local authority he turned to the Clock Shop of Virginia, the folks with that big time piece on the corner of Second and Water streets.

“It just has to do with visual balance,” says Ann Salamini, partner/owner of the Clock Shop. “Lots of times clocks have winding holes that are on the lower half of the dial,” she says, and those darker winding holes give more visual “weight” to the bottom part of the watch or clock when photographed.

That pretty much goes in line with what Ace’s prof said, although his rationale was a little more esoteric. He said that having watch hands at the 10 and 2 make the watches look “happy.” Frankly, Ace never really bought this idea. But Salamini lends a little credence to the theory, saying, “It looks down to have the hands at 20 after, or at the 4 and 8. It’s more bland,” she says.

And while looking at that one ad that didn’t have the watch hands at 10 and 2—a Ritmo Mundo Gran Data Collection shot with the hands at 4 and 8—Ace has to say it left him feeling confused and down.

Happy watches, sad watches. Whodathunkit? Actually, it isn’t that surprising. Ace has a long history of feeling down after looking at time pieces, specifically his alarm clock at 7am. He’d sure feel a lot better if he didn’t have to get up until 10:10.

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