Home / Dials / Henry S. Montgomery’s “Type II” Safety Dial, c.1920

Henry S. Montgomery’s “Type II” Safety Dial, c.1920

Montgomery’s Type II Safety Dial, Fitted on an Elgin 16-Size Grade 453 Movement, c.1920
Pictured: Montgomery’s Type II Safety Dial, Fitted on an Elgin 16-Size Grade 453 Movement, c.1920.

Henry S. Montgomery introduced his new “Safety Dial” design to the market in April 1920 as soon as his patent was granted.

The “Type II” Safety Dial emanates Montgomery’s assertion that the minute figures are the most important figures on the watch dial by reducing the size of the hour figures and creating elongated delimiting markers for each minute indicator. The continuous marginal minute figures were retained from his original design, placed around the perimeter of the dial with each five-minute figure contrasting in a vibrant red.

Despite his expectations of wide adoption, Montgomery’s second effort was a failure in the market, and only a small number of the “Type II” dials were produced.

Montgomery Dial, 1920 Patent Illustration


  1. I never have seen this dial or even knew Montgomery panted another. I can see how it failed though. Having the hour numerals large and inside the minute ring seems to make it easier to tell the hour and minute with no ambiguity. I think it was a bridge to far.

    Thanks for the great article also.

  2. Reminds me of the second version of the German World War 2 pilot’s watches, the B-Uhr, that also had the minutes on the outside with the hours on the inside on a smaller diameter track, although the difference in their diameters wasn’t quite as pronounced. Another difference was that the hour hand was shorter so that it terminated at the radius of the hour markers/numbers. In all, I think a better design. In looking at the Elgin example, I guess that the hour hand is pointing at the larger indices on the minute dial marked every 5 minutes and then one is supposed to look at the hour number underneath to read the hour, but to me that is very distracting. The B-Uhr is a bit of an acquired taste and not to everyone’s liking, but I can certainly see why this Montgomery dial with these features was a failure.

  3. I was today years old when I heard about this particular dial. As always thanks for a thoughtful look at the designers of the past.

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