Ever wondered why some dial has IIII instead of IV as number FOUR.
Once upon a time, when Roman numerals were used by the actual Roman Empire, the name of the Romans' supreme deity, Jupiter, was spelled as IVPPITER in Latin. Hesitant to put part of the god's name on a sundial or in accounting books, IIII became the preferred representation of four. Of course, IVPPITER wasn't being worshiped much by the time clocks and watches replaced sundials, but clockmakers may have stuck with IIII
just for the sake of tradition.
Why is 10:10 the Default Setting for Clocks and Watches?
First things first, let's get the myths out of the way. There are plenty of people out there who think that clocks in
advertisements and in-store displays are set this way to memorialize Abraham Lincoln/John F. Kennedy/Martin
Luther King Jr. because that was the time at which they were shot or died. In reality, Lincoln was shot at 10:15
p.m., and died the next morning at 7:22 a.m., JFK was shot at 12:30 p.m. CST and was pronounced dead 1 p.m.
and MLK was shot at 6:01 p.m. and pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.
Another theory has it that 10:10 was the time that an atomic bomb was dropped on either Nagasaki or
Hiroshima, and that the setting is in memory of the casualties. The Fat Man bomb was actually dropped on the
former at 11:02 a.m. local time and the Little Boy on the latter at 8:15 a.m. local time.
The real reason for the setting?
Aesthetics. The 10:10 position gives the clock or watch a number of benefits:
• The hands are not overlapping, so they're fully and clearly visible and their styling can be admired.
• The arrangement of the hands is symmetrical, which people generally find more pleasant than asymmetry,
making the product more appealing to customers.
• The manufacturer's logo, usually in the center of the face under the 12, is not only visible but nicely framed by
• Additional elements on the face (like date windows or secondary dials), usually placed near the 3, 6, or 9,
won't be obscured.
According to the folks at leading watch company (who set their products at 10:09:36 exactly), the standard-setting used to be 8:20, but this made the face look like it was frowning. To make the products look happier, the setting was flipped into a smile (occasionally, you'll still see the 8:20 setting on some clocks or watches
where the manufacturer's logo is at the bottom of the face above the 6).