the story of: iiii, not iv
Aug 6, 2012
Roman numerals on a watch face instantly convey a polished look and feel. But if you look closely at the handsome new additions to our dress watch collections, you’ll notice that the numerals are not quite what you’d expect. The number 4 is rendered as IIII, not IV. This might seem strange at first glance, but there’s actually a great story behind the reason.
Our new Emma dress watch.
In the 18th century, Louis the Fourteenth didn’t like the looks of XIV. He insisted that everyone use XIIII instead, ordering Swiss and French clockmakers to fall in line with his preference. As a result, ‘IIII’ became the standard way to present the number 4, not only in Switzerland and France, but also in Europe and America.
The newest edition to our Ansel Collection
But the story doesn’t quite end there. As a deliberate insult to Louis, British watchmakers continued to use ‘IV’ for the number 4. Today, both are considered correct, but if you find a watch with ‘IV’ on the face, it’s probably from the UK!