Historical, roman numerals question
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  1. #1
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    Historical, roman numerals question

    Not sure if posting in right sub forum, but here we go.

    Why on earth, all watches with roman numerals, have "IIII" instead "IV"? As far as I've been taught (maybe wrong?), 4 = IV. Yet all watches, from antique pockets, to modern wrist, have IIII on a dial. Is anyone know a reason for that? It's a silly thing, but it bugs me.

  2. #2
    Member copperjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    Aesthetics.

    My collection may be complete, but it is never completed


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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    It's about Aesthetics and symmetry.

    Imagine a watch face with roman numerals, and look at the numerals opposite to each other - all of them are in perfect balance, except for the 'heavy' VIII and the 'light' IV; optical balance is re-established by printing an also 'heavy' IIII. Therefore the main reason why this is done is for symmetry reasons. If one were to divide the watch face vertically, exactly 14 Roman characters would appear on each side of the dial (left & right). If "IV" were used, it would throw off the perfect symmetry of the watch dial.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    Haven't thought about it this way, but it actually make sense. Thank you.
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    Member copperjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    And welcome to the forums.

    My collection may be complete, but it is never completed


    Collection: Rolex Submariner 116610; Seikos Orange Monster, Black Monster, 007 (X2) 009, SRPB53, SPB079, and SRP775; Hamiltons Khaki 42mm and Khaki King; Halios Laguna; 2012 WUS CMW Forum Dual Crown Project Watch; Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB; Casio Pathfinder PAG40; G-Shock GD350, GW7900B-1, DW9052-1BCG. GMW5610-1, DW5600, DW5600CMB-1, DW5900, GW-9400-1CR; Orients Star Classic and 2ER; Some other stuff.

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    Member Likestheshiny's Avatar
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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    It's also worth noting that IIII is a perfectly correct way to write the number. You can find it carved into things going back thousands of years -- it was very clearly used as a completely acceptable variation of IV. Junior high school textbooks just like to keep it simple.

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    Member NWP627's Avatar
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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    Quote Originally Posted by Likestheshiny View Post
    It's also worth noting that IIII is a perfectly correct way to write the number. You can find it carved into things going back thousands of years -- it was very clearly used as a completely acceptable variation of IV. Junior high school textbooks just like to keep it simple.
    ...or they could have been thousand year old typos!
    Caveat lector

  9. #8
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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    Wasn't IV an abbreviation for one of the gods?

    It would be like your watch reading 1, 2, 3, Jesus!
    LJUSMC and 403acmash like this.

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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    As far as I know, the Romans used only IV as a 4, never IIII.

    Yes, IIII has been used historically as a 4, and IIIII as a 5.

    Watchmanufacturers just used a little bit of freedom to make a more symmetrical dial.

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    Re: Historical, roman numerals question

    Quote Originally Posted by Blubaru703 View Post
    Wasn't IV an abbreviation for one of the gods?

    It would be like your watch reading 1, 2, 3, Jesus!

    Hi guys, im kinda of new around the forum but im learning a lot already (been lurking for some time tho).

    About the God Thing, its Jupiter. It was spelled IVpiter in ancient times. Don't think that might be why they go for the IIII, the symmetry makes more sense.

    I've actualy never noticed the IIII until i saw this thread LOL.





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