Why Do Roman Numeral Clock Use the Roman Numeral IIII Instead of IV?

Roman numeral clock

One of the most traditional patterns used on Roman numeral clock. There have always been clocks, pocket watches, and wristwatches with Roman numerals on the dials as far back in history as we can tell. Owners of roman numeral clock, however, may have observed something odd or unexpected. While the Roman numeral system sometimes uses the typeface IV for the number 4, most timepieces use IIII. Of course, you may have questioned why, just like we did. Although there is never just one solution to an issue, here are a few potential solutions to this incredibly significant query.

Here, clockpluss.com provide three possible explanations for roman numeral clock using IIII rather than IV, along with a couple myths that just don’t make sense.

IIII Looks Better Than IV on the Dial

Roman numeral clock
Roman numeral clock

Personally, I think the four I’s were added for aesthetic purposes. Because of this, clocks and watches were regarded as both necessities and luxurious items that were only accessible to the wealthy. Therefore, when you look at a dial, the four single strokes on the lower right side of the face create a lovely balance opposite the VIII, which stands for the eight on the lower left. This results in a harmonious dial design, which is what everyone seeks in a high-end watch.

Diety Reverence – Roman God Jupiter

The IIII instead of the IV could have something to do with mythology, keeping in mind how ancient Roman numeral clock are and the fact that everyone from the Romans to the Greeks and other civilizations had their own kind of clocks. For instance, the Latin name IVPPITER was given to the Roman god of the sky and thunder, Jupiter. It’s possible that writing IV on a sundial or clock face was considered disrespectful to the gods.

Although this explanation makes sense in terms of time for sundials, there is no reason why the IIII wasn’t changed to IV when Roman numeral clock first debuted. Unless future generations continued to value the myths. Although this may have been the initial justification, it doesn’t appear sufficient to justify continuing it once the Swiss watchmaking industry gained control.

IIII Was the Easiest Way to Read 4 for the Non-Educated

Roman numeral clock
Roman numeral clock

In light of the fact that sundials and the first tower Roman numeral clock date to the medieval ages, it is probable that choosing the IIII over the IV was a decision made entirely out of consideration for the general populace. Many people were illiterate back then because education wasn’t required. Therefore, it’s possible that they might comprehend the literal number four rather than the IV because of the four lines. The choice to employ the specific marks may have been made out of respect for the population of uneducated farmers and workers.

Royalty and Technology

Other theories are held by some watch enthusiast organizations, but they don’t seem to hold up to closer examination. For instance, there is a legend that Louis XIV demanded that a watch made for him that was utilizing the IV be altered to the IIII. While that might be the case in a particular incident, it is unquestionably not the case for the IIII over IV ideas genre as a whole. The timing is simply many millennia late. The IIII has been in use for many centuries.

If one believed that royalty was to blame (or credit), the alternative royalty myth may seem more convincing. For instance, Charles V, King of France, advised a watchmaker to use the IIII form in the late 14th century because he believed taking the IV form was unlucky, signaling that his title (or generational nomenclature) would be in jeopardy. It almost seems feasible given that the majority of Roman numeral clock of that century used the IIII, but even clocks in England and other nations utilized the IIII.

Other Theories

Roman numeral clock
Roman numeral clock

Others propose that it has to do with how much metal is wasted when making the four IIII numerals as opposed to the individual IIII numerals since more metal is wasted when making the four IIII numerals. Perhaps in the past, making a V was more difficult than making three additional I’s, but when cutting techniques advanced, it would have been the first thing to alter.

Another idea that was anticipated was the inclusion of technology. Obviously, primitive technology. Some claim that if the Roman numeral clock read IV, the old-fashioned striking clocks would have had to strike a mild tone for the I and a harsh tone for the V. That is ludicrous considering that the typography of the numbers on the clock could not have been recognized and repeated by early chiming Roman numeral clock. Instead, regardless of how the numerals appeared, they would have rung one chime at one, two at two, three at three, four at four, and so on around the dial.

True watch pundits are left in a quandary by the abundance of theories and concepts surrounding the IIII against the IV. However, when you see gorgeous watch dials utilising the IIII in all its grandeur as a design feature juxtaposed to the VIII in today’s day and age, there shouldn’t be any debate.

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