I learned something new today….

Well clearly I haven’t been paying attention. I was expecting a “IV” for Thursday on my day wheel today and was rather surprised to see “IIII”.

Apparently using the subtractive form of the Roman 4 generally is a more historically recent thing but the “IIII” and “IV” have both been found in ancient manuscripts.

The name of the Roman deity Jupiter was spelled “IVPPITER” and the story goes that using the start of Jupiter’s name on a dial, and upside down into the bargain, was perhaps disrespectful.

Additionally King Louis XIV of France supposedly ordered his clockmakers to use “IIII” as he preferred that form.

Watches and clocks with Romans on the dial usually follow this convention in the name of visual balance, I have also learned.

And yet, if you look carefully at the picture of the dial of Big Ben in London they chose to use the subtractive “IV”. How interesting.

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What’s always bothered me about this, is that watches will use IIII for four, but then use the subtractive form of IX for 9. I dislike the inconsistency.

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NateSC

What’s always bothered me about this, is that watches will use IIII for four, but then use the subtractive form of IX for 9. I dislike the inconsistency.

Good point, Nate. It’s not consistent is it? However one of the snippets I read suggested this inconsistency is in the name of visual balance in that a “VIIII” additive “9” would overpower the “III” opposite and unbalance the look dramatically. I never even noticed the “IIII” on the numerous watch dials I must have seen on here rather than the “IV” prior to today 😂🍻

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IIII is used to better balance the VIII opposite it on the dial. That is thE reasoning I have read and it makes sense.

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StevieC54

IIII is used to better balance the VIII opposite it on the dial. That is thE reasoning I have read and it makes sense.

Yes, that seems to be the reasoning, Zep 👍

I wasn’t even thinking about dials initially, just my day wheel. That’s what led me down this intriguing path. Always something else to learn I guess 🍻

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WatchesRock

Good point, Nate. It’s not consistent is it? However one of the snippets I read suggested this inconsistency is in the name of visual balance in that a “VIIII” additive “9” would overpower the “III” opposite and unbalance the look dramatically. I never even noticed the “IIII” on the numerous watch dials I must have seen on here rather than the “IV” prior to today 😂🍻

Yeah, I get it reasoning. It still bugs me though. LOL

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NateSC

What’s always bothered me about this, is that watches will use IIII for four, but then use the subtractive form of IX for 9. I dislike the inconsistency.

Don't go to gate 44 of the Colosseum in Rome then. It's marked XLIIII.

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Always great to learn something new. Thanks for the lesson! 💯

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The pedant in me insists I point out that Big Ben does not have a dial as it is the bell inside the tower.

What you see is Elizabeth Tower.

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Bazzateer

The pedant in me insists I point out that Big Ben does not have a dial as it is the bell inside the tower.

What you see is Elizabeth Tower.

Indeed yes, Baz 👍Worth mentioning of course. I nearly referred to it as “The Westminster Clock”; then thought I’d use it’s more widely known and, ahem, incorrect moniker😁🍻

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NewbombTurk

Always great to learn something new. Thanks for the lesson! 💯

No problem! Thank you mate🙏 And all because of my funky day wheel…. I’ve gone full nerd today 😂🤓🤝