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Why Is The Roman Numeral IIII On The Watch Instead Of IV?

Sep. 16, 2019

Have you found a strange problem? The 4 in the Roman numeral is obviously IV. It can be written on most dials without the traditional Roman alphabet. Instead, IIII is used instead. Do you know why? Next, explain by everyone from the Shenzhen Watch Supplier.


The Roman numerals originated in ancient Rome in 1000 BC and were replaced by modern Arabic numerals around the 14th century. The Roman numeral 9 was originally replaced by VIIII, and 4 was replaced by IIII. However, these two numbers are easily confused with III and VIII, after which the Roman numeral system abandoned the original addition rule and changed it to a better recognized form of write-down.

In 1500 BC, the Romans used the principle of the sundial to create a shadow clock based on the ancient Babylonian astronomy. These ancient sundials are engraved with Roman numerals IV and IIII to represent 4. At that time, the Supreme God of Rome was Jupiter. In Latin, Jupiter was spelled as IVPPITER. The Romans felt that engraving IV on the sundial or on the book was a disrespect for their supreme god, and they were replaced by IIII. This is the reason why it is used even if writing IIII is inconvenient. With the emergence and maturity of the watchmaking industry, the sundial is outdated, and because of the early use of IIII, the craftsmen have used it.

In ancient and medieval times, only a small number of people were able to read, write, and calculate. Understanding IV required an understanding of mathematical logic. At the time, this was too complicated for most people, leading to IV and VI, and IX and XI. The confusion between the numbers IIII is much easier to understand.

For watchmakers, if you use the addition method, you will need to create a lot less molds when you make the watch. It is easier to use IIII in the process. Today, many China Watch Customizations use IIII to represent 4, which is both simple and easy to understand.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you need a custom watch, we can also customize it for you.

Why Is The Roman Numeral IIII On The Watch Instead Of IV?