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Thread: Montgomery dial

  1. #1
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    The Bronx, NYC

    Default Montgomery dial

    I'd appreciate it if someone could explain to me what is meant by a "Montgomery dial" on a pocket watch. Many thanks, Steve

  2. #2
    Barry G

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    A Montgomery dial is one where all the minutes from 1-60 are displayed along the outer edge, with every fifth number in red. A "true" Montgomery dial has an hour number 6 visible inside the seconds register, as in the following example.

    The Montgomery dial was invented and patented by a railroad time inspector named Montgomery [my mind has blanked on his first name]. They were very popular, although not EVERYBODY liked them at the time [one of his competitors, Webb C. Ball, preferred very plain dials and called this sort of dial "freakish"].

    Because Montgomery patented his design, some watch companies produced their own versions that were just different enough to not get them in trouble. The most common variation is one where there is no 6 in the seconds register, as in the example below:

    I'm sure others here can expound in great detail upon what I have said [and I hope they do], but that should give you the general idea...



    My Online Pocket Watch Collection

    [This message has been edited by Barry G (edited 01-10-2001).]

  3. #3

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Steven, Barry & Etc.:

    That's Henry S. Montgomery, General Watch & Clock Inspector of the AT&SF from 1896 to 1923.

    In 1920 Ball presented a paper to the Steam Railroad Section of the National Safety Council at its Ninth Annual Congress. In his presentation, the dials that Ball referred to as "freakish" were various marginal minute designs (those with each minute numbered), including a Ferguson dial, but he didn't actually show a Montgonery design dial.

    In referring to obtaining the correct time from those dials (Figures 4,5 & 6 on his chart vs. plain Arabic dials that were Figures 1, 2 & 3), he said:

    "As this information is often required at night when lights are dim and obscure, it is needless to emphasize the importance of dials that give the hour and minute without any confusion of fantastic figures or freakish designs. .... Dials that serve their purpose of safety are illustrated on the accompanying chart ... in Figures 1, 2 and 3 with the freak, confusing, and unsafe dials shown in Figures 4, 5 and 6."

    See the Railway Age, Oct. 8, 1920, pg. 617, or NAWCC Bulletin, August, 1999, pp. 494-5.


    [This message has been edited by Kent (edited 01-10-2001).]
    That guy down in Georgia

  4. #4
    Alan Walker

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Montgomery countered Ball's accusations concerning his dial by pointing out that Ball's Official Railroad Standard dial failed to meet Ball's own standards. That is, Ball in his standards required that each hour be distinctly marked with a bold arabic numeral. Montgomery poined out that Ball's dial did not have a numeral for the 6 o'clock hour, whereas his Montgomery Safety Dial (as the Montgomery dial was properly known as) did have the six o'clock hour marked on the seconds bit.

  5. #5
    Dan Alexander

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Steve: There is an excellent article in
    Meggers Book on the Illinois Watches from
    Heart of America Press. Apparently HS
    Montgomery was the time service keeper for
    the A.T.& Santa Fe and marketed a Santa Fe
    Special Pocket Watch make by Illinois. The
    Santa Fe Pocket Watch has the Montgomery Dial
    (I have one) and was used by some of the
    RR's particularly, the Union Pacific. It is
    reported by Meggers that for a while, Montogmery was receiving 25 cents per dial
    for use of dial. The advertisements for the
    Santa Fe Special touted the Santa Fe Spl and
    Montgomery Dial as both products of Topeka!
    It is fair to say that he and Mr. Ball
    did not have a good relationship and you do
    not see the Montgomery Dial on Ball Watches
    except for private label watches carrying the
    Ball name.
    Hope that Helps, Dan #0152247

  6. #6
    Alan Walker

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    It msut also be remembered that there were two types of Montgomery dials. The original Type I Montgomery dial is what Barry has an image posted of. There was also the Type II dial which was patented shortly after Ball's presentation in 1920. The Ball Watch Company did sell some watches with the Montgomery dial on Official Railroad Standard movemtents and the Ball Railway Time Service did approve the Type II dial on at least one railroad- the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway, but only at the insistance of top railway management.

  7. #7

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)


    I don't believe that Montgomery was involved in the Santa Fe Watch Co. The watches he sold were were the "Santa Fe Route" marked Walthams. He was forced to give this up after he accepted the position of General Watch & Clock Inspector of the AT&SF. An ARTICLE appeared at the time in the trade press.


    [This message has been edited by Kent (edited 02-10-2001).]
    That guy down in Georgia

  8. #8

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    A photo of a 16 size Elgin dial in the style of Montgomery's 1920 patent ...

    I've seen this similar style (though some of these double-sunk) in Illinois, Hamilton, Waltham, and South Bend. Has anyone seen any others?

    Fred Hansen
    NAWCC #109682

  9. #9

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Below is the orignial Montgomery dial patent, dated 1920.


    and description....

  10. #10

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Nice addition Robert!
    That guy down in Georgia

  11. #11

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    This is an interesting topic.

    When I need to tell the time, which is uaually at a glance, I don't go to the bother of putting on my reading glasses before I look at my watch.

    One of reasons I started carrying a pocket watch daily was because of the larger and easier to see dial and hands.

    The dial and hands that seem best for ease of reading on vintage pocket watches are the railroad track dial and baton hands on the Hamilton 2974b and the 950b.

    This dial and hand combination is simple and bold. To me, the Montgomery dial looks to 'busy' for ease of reading.

    Best regards,
    Joe Straub

  12. #12

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Samie Smith asked to post pictures of a couple of his watches that directly relate to Henry S. Montgomery. The first is a model 83, private labeled for the Santa Fe Route.

    The second is a nice model 92 Crescent St. with a Santa Fe Railway System Standard Dial.
    That guy down in Georgia

  13. #13

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Thanks Kent for posting the pictures i have enjoyed this topic about the Montgomery dials ..

    If i understand right the Santa Fe route dial was patented by Henry S. Montgomery.

  14. #14

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    Thanks for showing those Samie (and Kent)!

    Fred Hansen
    NAWCC #109682

  15. #15

    Default Montgomery dial (By: steve45jm)

    An interesting 1925 document here on Montgomery dials sent out from Sydney Y. Ball of The Ball Railroad Time Service ...

    And 4 close-ups of it here so it can be read ...

    And the original envelope it was mailed in ...

    Fred Hansen
    NAWCC #109682

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