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IIII is an alternate writing of the Roman numeral four, usually written as IV. This version of the number originates with public clocks mounted for the benefit of German villagers, who were largely illiterate and in many instances unable to read Roman numerals. Instead, just as they would count I-II-III-IIII on their fingers, so would they read the numbers on the clock. IV would just lend itself to confusion with VI. On such clocks, nine might also be written as VIIII, instead of as IX.

Oddly enough, the widespread adoption of this shortcut for the small town illiterati eventually translated to a sentiment that a clockface displaying four I's in a row instead of an IV was quaint and classical. Which lead later clockmakers and watchmakers to use this exact same sequence as a symbol of the European sophistication of their watch faces -- not only were they adorned with Roman numerals instead of mere numbers, but they used the same circle of Roman numerals as the town hall clocks in those charming little rustic villas.

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