I'm not sure you can call it 'wrong' when it's been in use on watches for over 200 years.
Here on a Longines from 1867:
And here's one from 1812 (Click to show)
Edited by Kaplan - 2/9/15 at 10:26am
Makes sense for the arguments of IIII vs. IV. Now seeing the 4 X's, 4 V's, and 4 I's is pleasing to the eye.
As for alarms, I tell my wife if we were ever robbed, they have really bad luck. The would have to find us deep in our neighborhood, choose to break into a house with 2 vicious (not really) pit bulls and an alarm, then find our minimal valuables. Our neighbors have nicer non-garaged cars which make me think they would be better targets in a burglars mind.
In re the IIII vs IV thing, this is an interesting explanation:
"On Roman clock faces, "IIII" is often used in place of "IV" for the "4 o'clock" (excuse me... 04:00 or 16:00 per ISO9000 :) !). This is apparently because "IV" is an abbreviation for "Jupiter" in Roman times. So they decided to use "IIII" so that their public clocks didn't have "1 2 3 GOD 5..." written on them."
I think the IIII works really well on Cartier watches as their Romans seem to be a bit bolder and more stylized than that of the Patek or Lange in question.
VC often skips the IIII vs IV dilemma by using a stick markers at the 4.
Once the original warranty expires then it wouldn't actually matter whether the watch had its papers or came from a gray market shop vs. a gray dealer. At that point the service wouldn't be free even if a person had the papers. I generally stick with official service centers.