The Watchmaker’s Four – Why some watches use “IIII” instead of “IV”

August 5th, 2014 | No Comments

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With all the coverage of the new Bambino online, you may have noticed something odd on the dial of the new Bambinos, particularly the Roman numeral markers. If you haven’t, let us point it out–it’s at the 4 o’clock position. See it? Instead of “IV” it’s “IIII”. Naturally, “IV” is how 4 is represented in Roman numerals. So why does the watch use “IIII” in its place? Is it a mistake?

It’s not. And other watch companies do this, too.

While there are many speculations and stories behind this, ranging from King of France’s Louis the XIV’s request to traditional Roman grammar, it’s commonly believed that its purpose is for improved dial symmetry. The “IIII” mirrors the “VIII” much better than a “IV” can. This is a practice that dates back to the beginning of clock and watchmaking. Though not all watches and clocks take part in this style, we most certainly prefer it!



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