Why is the handle of a saucepan tilted upwards now-a-days rather than the old fashioned horizontal handles?
The answer from the 'Product Manager - Cookware' of Zwilling, translated to English:
Different factors influence the design of the handle during the product creation process. At the first step there are optical reasons. This is the phase of the first design drawings. As soon as we decide internally on a draft, we craft plastic prototypes that are attached to the corresponding pan body to see the size ratio "live" and verify the look and feel. If we feel that one of the two factors is not optimal, we do another design round.
Stability does essentially not play any role for the tilt angle, more decisive are the handle connection and material thickness.
[The last paragraph was likely in reference to my question about having a certain tilt angle for better hanging on a handle. "Better" was interpreted as 'more long lasting'.]
The answer from the 'Consumer Service WMF', translated to English:
The pan body shapes and the handles are only attributable to the design. As every human has a different taste, we have an assortment of different designs. There is no other technical reason for the handles and shapes of sauce pans.
An aesthetically pleasing hanging on a handle is at least not such a concern during the design process at Zwilling that it was mentioned. WMF flat out says it's just design.
If the premise of the question is actually true, that there was indeed a change over time, which is questionable, then at least these days such issues play no longer any role for large companies.
Did some looking and while I haven't found an authoritative answer, in the introduction to this design paper, he describes a theory that I think makes a lot of sense.
Traditionally, pots and pans have always had a long straight handle, since they were designed to be used in an open fire. With the advent of modern stovetops, pots and pans were lifted off the hearth, and the handles simply shortened, with the incidental benefit of saving space in a smaller environment.
I suspect that makes the most sense. With a fire, you want to keep your hand as low and out of the fire as much as possible. In a stove as there is a lot less radiant heat than a fire, it is much more beneficial to just simply move your hand a few extra inches away from the burner. Up and out makes a little more sense then.
In essence, I suspect the pot/cookware design more closely matches to the available heat sources available. As I'm typing this, another theory, is that the change of material used for the handle also makes a difference. With a wooden or plastic handle, you need to move it up and away from the heat source more so than a handle made of pure metal.