The Power of Advertising: Why Do All Clock Ads Have “Happy Hands”?

Subtle messages in advertising often go unnoticed, but they're around us all the time!

While preparing to write two gigantic, in-depth posts this upcoming month, I decided to take a brief break and share with you a really neat fact about clock/watch advertisements. So, next time you’re looking at a Rolex watch in your GQ magazine, you can curse me to the heavens because you won’t be able to forget the wonderful information below!

Take a look at any advertisement online, on a billboard, or in a magazine for a watch. What do you see? Anything stick out?

A watch advertisement from a magazine.

What do you notice in the above advertisement? What are your eyes drawn to in the watch?

Watch advertisement from a billboard in New York City.

Notice any similarities between the billboard ad and magazine ad?

Well, here’s the answer: The clock hands in nearly every advertisement you see for watches are at 10:10. Heck, look at any advertisement where a watch is involved and the hands should be at 10:10.

This reason this is done is because of basic human psychology. Most advertisements focus on hidden human interests and desires, which means all minutia is accounted for. Often times, this goes unnoticed by the customer; they just like the ad for some reason! Really focus on an advertisement for alcohol and notice the shape of the woman’s body holding the handle of vodka: chances are the curves and colors are designed to trigger your eyes down to the product. For the watch, the hands are at 10:10 because it mimics a human face smiling. That’s it. Very simple, but incredibly powerful.

Now, when you see one of the rare watch advertisements where the clock’s hands aren’t at 10 and 10, you’ll know why you feel like something’s off!


  1. The funny thing is, is that HTC obviously also got the memo about displaying a “happy time” on their advertising. Only problem it doesn’t work so well on digital, it just always says 10:08

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