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Early Adoption of the Montgomery Dial: The Santa Fe Railway System Standard Dial

Santa Fe Railway System Standard Dial (Montgomery Design), Fitted on a Waltham Grade 845 Movement, c.1904
Pictured: Santa Fe Railway System Standard Dial (Montgomery Design), Fitted on a Waltham Grade 845 Movement, c.1904. Photo courtesy of Jones & Horan Auctions (https://www.jones-horan.com/)

Shortly after Henry S. Montgomery introduced his continuous marginal minute figure dial in 1899, the Santa Fe Railway System adopted the design as the company’s “Standard Dial.”

At the direction of Montgomery, the standard clocks at the railway stations were fitted with the new design, and custom dials were produced for watches in service on the railroad. These dials were marked “Santa Fe Railway System Standard Dial,” with the manufacturer’s name appearing above the seconds bit. Complying with Montgomery’s design, the marginal minute figures were arranged around the perimeter of the dial, with each five-minute indicator contrasting in a bright red color.

These dials represent the earliest form of the familiar Montgomery dial. In 1910, Mr. Montgomery introduced his dial design to the broader watch market as the “Safety Numerical Dial.”

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