Roman numerals undoubtedly add that extra layer of tradition and sophistication to a gentleman’s dress watch. Here’s our list of some of the best dress watches with Roman numerals.
The use of Roman numerals on clock dials has been around for centuries. In fact, it’s only since the mid-18th century that Arabic numerals slowly started to be employed more frequently than Roman numerals.
Ironically, it was an Italian, the mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, who is credited with first introducing Arabic numerals (0123456789) into European usage with his groundbreaking book, “Liber Abaci,” published in 1202.
Roman numeral watches often show the number ‘IV’ as ‘IIII’, and, as with so many other things to do with watches, it can result in contentious debate among collectors as to why this may be so.
Some say it’s because King Louis XIV preferred the number ‘IIII’ on his clocks and the tradition simply stuck. Others will argue that it’s all about the visual symmetry of the dial. ‘IIII’ is thought to create more visual symmetry with the ‘VIII’ opposite it on the clock face rather than the simpler ‘IV’. Using ‘IIII’ also means that only ‘I’ is seen on the first four-hour markings, ‘V’ is seen in the next four hour markings, and ‘X’ is seen only in the last four hour markings, creating that highly desirable radial symmetry for the watch.
Whatever the reasons, here’s our selection of stylish, sober and immaculate looking dress watches with Roman numerals for men, with, as always, prices in ascending order.
Japanese brand Orient always offers outstanding value for money for an automatic watch. Not only does this 42.5mm watch have Roman numerals, preferring the symmetrical ‘IIII’ for the number 4, it also features a sun and moon indicator. A date wheel is located at 7 o’clock with a day of the week indicator in the center of the black dial.
You can’t beat a lovely bit of Clous de Paris dial texture as a backdrop to classic black Roman numerals. This Tissot watch, named for the area of Switzerland where Tissot watches are made, features a 39mm stainless steel case with a polished bezel. With a date window at 3 o’ clock, the silver guilloche dial of this watch is elegantly textured adding character. An anti-reflective sapphire crystal covers the watch’s dial. The watch runs on an ETA automatic movement.
Seiko offers plenty of choice in Roman numeral dials as they are recognized as an excellent choice for business and/or dress watches. With the date window at 6 o’ clock, this 46mm x 35.9mm watch runs on a 6R15 Seiko movement with 50 hours power reserve. Every Presage watch features one of Seiko’s trusted mechanical calibres and they are made in Seiko’s own facilities in Japan, offering high quality and value.
The timeless appeal of the stainless-steel Cartier tank has made it a grail watch among many for decades. The Cartier Tank Francaise Automatic Ref. W51002Q3 is made, like all Cartier watches, to last a lifetime. Although this is a men’s watch, it is simple and elegant enough that it can be considered a unisex watch as well. Cartier also opts for the IIII instead of IV, and it’s easy to see how this works harmoniously with the dial. If you want a Roman numeral watch in your collection, this is certainly worth the investment.
For over 30 years, Portofino watches have conjured up a laid-back Italian lifestyle. A singular combination of discretion and sophistication, they are among the most popular pieces in the IWC Schaffhausen collection. For the occasion of its 150th anniversary, the manufacture launches a Portofino Automatic in the unmistakable design of the Jubilee collection. This model is limited to 2000 watches and has a stainless steel case, a blue lacquered dial, and rhodium-plated hands. The blue lacquered dial adds a touch of luxurious elegance, the perfect stage for the eye-catching feuille hands. Roman numerals are positioned at 12 and 6.
One of the most beloved Rolex watches of all time. The choice of some of the world’s brightest minds, most gifted entrepreneurs, professional athletes, musicians, and innovators. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual DateJust features only the finest materials, automatic winding technology, 31 jewel movement, and a flawless sapphire crystal. All of the Rolex DateJust elements come together seamlessly to create elegance, precision, and ease-of-use with classic raised Roman numerals pitched against a spotless white dial. Although the 116200 comes in a choice of Arabic numerals and markers in addition to Roman numerals, it’s the latter choice that somehow steals the show.
I’m afraid that word ‘timeless’ is going to be rolled out again, but timeless and classic is what you get in spades when you opt for a watch with Roman numerals and the brand happens to be Patek Philippe. Patek Philippe probably does timeless and tasteful better than anyone else. The pure lines and refined style of the Calatrava will show you are a man of taste and substance in any boardroom around the world. With the small seconds at 6 o’ clock and the beautiful coin edged rose gold bezel, this discreet 36mm watch will speak volumes even when tucked quietly under a Harvie & Hudson double cuff marcella shirt.