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Science & Technology

It's 10:10. Do You Know What Time That Is?

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's been about two weeks since Apple announced it was entering the watch industry. CEO Tim Cook slyly unveiled the new Apple Watch.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

TIM COOK: We have one more thing.

(APPLAUSE)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And while others pick apart the new watch's features, we were intrigued by something we read on the news website Quartz about the design of the ads. Say, you open a magazine, and you see a glossy picture of this new watch. It says the time is 10:09, and that is no random time. Apple is joining a long history of watch ad design.

GIORGIO GALLI: Well, usually it's 10:09, but it could be 10:10, 10:11. But it's always around 10:10 - you know, those numbers, and it's been always like this for a hundred years, basically.

BLOCK: That's Giorgio Galli. He's design director for Timex. Rolex does it, too. So do Fossil, Citizen, Bell and Ross, Omega, but why?

SIEGEL: Well, Galli says, it's about symmetry. Picture 10:10 on a clock. The hour and minute hands form a wide V. Some say, watches are set this way in ads because it looks like a smiley face. But Galli says...

GALLI: No. For me, it's just the best way to see the entire look of the dial in the best way. So it's not really a smiley face.

BLOCK: So it's not really a smiley face, Galli says. He has been in the watch design business for more than 20 years. And even before he knew about the industry standard, 10:09 is the time he drew.

GALLI: It actually came naturally. When - the first time I designed a dial, I positioned the hand in that position, just even without knowing that it's supposed to be in that position.

SIEGEL: And that intuitive design, Galli says, has become watch advertising tradition.

GALLI: The watch industry is made out of small details, you know. So every detail really counts a lot.

SIEGEL: Right down to the second. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.