Why There’s No Roman Numeral IV On Clocks



If you’ve ever seen a clock with Roman numerals, you may have wondered why four o’clock appears as IIII, rather than IV. There’s a story about a famous clockmaker who had constructed a clock for King Louis XIV of France. The clockmaker had always used IV for four, but when the clock was shown to the king, he said that four single numerals should have been used instead of IV. When it was explained to him that IV was actually the correct way to display four, the king insisted that IIII be used instead. The clockmaker was left with no recourse, but to redesign the clock to show IIII in place of IV. Since that time, most Roman numeral clocks continue to use IIII.