The roots of Movado date to 1881, when a 19-year-old named Achille Ditesheim opened a small workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. With just six employees, Ditesheim made men’s wristwatches by hand. It was a time-consuming and expensive process. In 1890, two of Ditesheim’s brothers, Leopold and Isidore, became Achille’s partners in LAI Ditesheim, which by then employed 30 workers.

After the Neuchâtel Cantonel Observatory, a Swiss astronomical organization that measures the accuracy of atomic clocks, awarded the company six first-class ratings in 1899, the brothers turned their attention to the appearance of their timepieces, a preoccupation for which the firm is still known today. They consulted with artists about the design, researched the industry, and eventually built a new factory filled with the best cutting-edge machinery. Another Ditesheim brother, Isaac, invested capital to advance the business.

In 1905, the brothers settled on Movado (“always in motion” in Esperanto) as their new brand name and won a gold medal and a grand diploma of excellence from the Universal Exhibition in Liege, Belgium. By 1912, Movado had released the Polyplan, the first watch designed to follow the contour of the wrist. That watch would be followed by the Curviplan in 1931 and Novoplan in 1934.

Movado pioneered several technologies in the first half of the 20th century. Its Ermeto in 1926 was self-winding; the wristwatch’s case also protected it from shocks, as well as changes in temperature and pressure. Right after World War II, Movado introduced the Calendomatic, which showed the month and day of the week in a pair of windows within the watch’s face, along with the date on the face’s outermost edge.

That same decade, in 1947, an American designer named Nathan George Horwitt was trying to create a watch face that was uncluttered. His first attempts resulted in one of the first digital watches, with numbers for the hours and minutes, but he rejected it saying “the thing looked like a scoreboard.” His experiments led him to create what would be known as the Museum Watch, whose numberless black face was interrupted only by a single gold dot at 12 o’clock representing the sun at high noon.

Horwitt approached 15 watch companies between 1956 and 1960 with his sundial design; each one rejected it. Then, in 1960, the Museum of Modern Art in New York added Horwitt’s watch to its Design Collection. “I believe your design for the face of a watch is the only really original and beautiful design that I have ever seen,” said Edward Steichen, the director of the department of photography at MOMA. Painter Norman Rockwell called it a “swell, modern, simplified design.” The acclaim prompted Movado to strike a deal with Horwitt in 1961 to mass produce the watch, which it patented as the Museum Watch.

During the 1960s, Movado partnered with Zenith in an attempt to create the world’s first automatic chronograph. The Movado-Zenith team was up against a consortium of four watch companies—Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton, and Dubois Depraz. In 1969, both teams’ efforts resulted in what each said was the world’s first automatic chronograph. Movado named its El Primero, but, as it turns out, the Heuer/Breitling/Hamilton/Dubois Depraz team had produced its Calibre 11 a month earlier...

Movado’s next foray into art occurred in 1988, when the company produced a five-face watch designed by Andy Warhol. Although the artist died before the watch went into production, he left behind an envelope filled with his final selection of photographs for each face. The black-and-white photos show several New York buildings shot seemingly at random, as if from the backseat of a moving Town Car; two of the photos actually appear to be slightly different views of the same building.

Only 250 Andy Warhol Times/5 watches were manufactured, and in 1988 they sold out at $18,500 each. Today you can pick up a Times/5 at auction for two-thirds of that price. Time will tell whether Movado's Derek Jeter wristwatch, which was produced in a limited edition of 300 to honor the New York Yankees slugger's 3,000th career hit in 2011, will fare better.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Zenith/movado Datron Hs 360 Chronograph Watch Automatic Hi Beat MovementMovado Bold Chronograph Black Dial Purple Aluminum Mens Watch 3600169 BoxMovado Swiss 800 Black/blue Chronograph Mens Watch 2600102 Silicone Band BoxCoach 1941 By Movado Mini Lexington Silver Tone Link Band Blue 14501893 WatchStunning Mens Movado Verto Pvd Black Dial Diamond WatchMens Museum Movado Stainless Silver Mirror Dial Swiss Quartz Watch No ReserveStunning Movado Mens Sprita 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchSuper Clean 41mm Movado Chronograph 84 R5 1890 Black Dial Wrist Watch For MenMovado Moon Phase 3-date Dial Dress Watch 622828 87-03-862 W/pouch & Paper WorksHermes Movado Ermeto Style Purse Watch VintageBoss Hugo Boss By Movado Mens Black Ss Link Band Date Watch Box Hb481142111Stunning Mens Movado Pvd Luno Sport Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Verto Mens Black Ticn Swiss Chronograph Quartz Watch 0606546Movado 89.c1.1432 Ss Elegant High Fashion Rectangular Quartz Men's WatchMens Movado Se Sports Edition Chronograph Slver Dial Diamond WatchMovado Series 800 Wrist Watch For Men Blue Dial Swiss MadeVintage Movado Kingmatic Hs-360 Calibre 406 Day-date Steel Automatic Wristwatch Men's Movado Vizio Ss Watch. 83.g1.1889 Swiss MadeMovado Mens 84.g1.1880 Stainless Steel Watch, Swiss Movement, Band: 8-1/4"Movado Vintage Triple Calender - SwissLadies Movado Day / Date Moon Phase White Dial Black Leather Swiss Quartz WatchMens Movado S.s Estimo Black Dial Diamond WatchMen Movado Series 800 Tom Brady Limited Edition Black & White Chronograph WatchMovado Bold Chronograph Black Dial Purple Aluminum Mens Watch 3600169 BoxMens Esq Esquire By Movado 07301330 Aston Chronograph White Dial Date WatchWomen's Movado Bold Mb.01.3.14.6037 Stainless Steel WatchVintage Movado Automatic Men's Stainless Steel Watch....running Esq By Movado Mens Chonograph Stainless Steel Watch Swiss Made In Box 07301417Mens Movado Se Sports Edition 84 G1 1892 Blue Dial Watch Esq By Movado Mens Black Stainless Steel Watch 07301359 Swiss Sport Classic BoxMovado $1995 Mens Museum Black Pvd Sapphire Tuxedo Swiss Watch 0606307Movado Se Sports Edition Ladies Swiss Watch Model 0604881 Retail $1195Movado Ladies Watch Silver Black Face Bangle StyleMovado Corporate Exclusive Ladies Watch Black Dial Stainless Steel Swiss 0605603Movado Bold Black / Berry Watch, Leather Band, Excellent Pre-owned Condition Movado Eliro Mens Watch Stainless Steel #84.c1.455 Bracelet 26.15 X 35 Mm ClassyMovado Bold 3600196 Mid-size Watch, Only Fits 6" Wrist, 18+ Months On WarrantyMovado Mens WatchEsq By Movado Esq Beacon Grey Stainless Steel Men's Watch - 7301391Movado Vivo Bangle Ladies Silver Tone Swiss Watch Black Dial 0605603 BoxCoach 1941 By Movado Ladies Andee Boyfriend Watch 14501348 Black Plastic LinkBlack Esq By Movado Venture Man's Diamonds Watch Es.09.1.34.5583Handsome Men's Two-tone Movado Watch With Black Dial! #q10 Movado Datron Hs 360 (zenith Phc-3019) Automatic Chronograph Auto 31j Date Mens Authentic Swiss Made Movado Se Sports Edition 0605788 - $1,195 Retail!Movado Museum Classic 604230 Wrist Watch For Men Nwt Inscribed Never Worn! Esq By Movado Diamond Mens Stainless Steel Band Watch 07301361 Swiss Made Box Movado 84 E7 1850 Stainless Steel Quartz Mens Bracelet WatchGorgeous Ladies Stainless Steel Movado Watch With Leather Band And Diamonds! Q12Movado Bold Mb.01.1.29.6003 Wristwatch Movado Sports Edition Se With Date Swiss Made Watch (0604745)Movado Ladies 84361832.0s Stainless Steel Watch, Swiss Movement, Band: 7"Esq By Movado Mens Chronograph Stainless Steel Black Dial DateVtg Movado Automatic Bumper Cal 3767 Beautiful Excellent Condition !!!!! Esq By Movado Mens Black Ss Band Watch 07301425 Swiss Catalyst In BoxMovado Museum Men's Watch Gold And Silver Tone W/ Leather BandAuthentic Movado Ladies Watch 87.a1.817.1 (retail Price: $685.00)"no Reserve"Movado Se Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Mens WatchMovado Museum Quartz,ss/gp,black Dial,men'sUsed Movado Men's Watch