During the 1890s, fancy enamel dials were the fashionable trend in the watch market. After the turn of the century, as demand for these dials began to fade, watch factories began to explore new techniques to produce elegant dials to match the modern trends.
Metal dials had been used on watches for centuries. However, since the dawn of the American watch industry in the 1850s, enamel dials had been the exclusive preference for production in the United States. For many decades, metal dials were considered more expensive than enamel to manufacture and were difficult to clean properly without ruining the dial.
This changed in 1907 when the American Waltham Watch Company introduced the “Colonial Series,” a new line of watches with the option of a gilded, silvered, or solid gold metal dial.
The Waltham 1909 Material Catalog praises the merits of their metal dials, claiming the “new dials are practically indestructible, artistic in appearance, distinctly legible and accurately graduated.”
By 1909, the company had developed several styles of metal dials in all sizes, including options designed for railroad service.