The sculpture was commissioned in honor of the first three navigators of the California coast, Fortuno Ximenes (who arrived at the Pacific Coast in 1533), Juan de Cabrillo (1542), and Sir Francis Drake (1575). It was dedicated on October 12, 1907.
The back of the sundial forms a half-globe that displays the continents of North and South America in bas-relief. The top of the sundial features three portraits of the navigators, and on the bottom you can read "HORAM • SOLE • NOLENTE • NEGO" which in Latin means "I say not the hour when the sun does not."
To the right of the de Young Museum's main entrance on Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, in Golden Gate Park's Music Concourse