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 Movado Datron Hs 360 Sub-sea Automatic Chronograph With Rare Panda Dial!Stunning Ultra Rare Vintage 1930s Solid Silver Movado 150mn Chronometer WatchVintage Movado Triple Date Moonphase Calendar 473 Calibre Big Size Wristwatch Movado Datron 0606476 Stainless Steel Quartz Men's Watch - Pre-owned Authentic Movado Men's Series 800 Chronograph Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Vizio 84 C5 898 Men's Chronograph WatchBeautiful Vintage 18k Yellow Gold Women’s Movado 17 Jewel Watch W/18k BraceletMens 1940's 14k Solid Yellow Gold Tiffany & Co Movado Wrist Watch 15 Jewel Rare Movado Calendomatic Triple Date Automatic 18k Gold Mens Watch Vintage 1950sMovado $650 Women's Gold Stainless Steel Bold Series Swiss Watch 3600085Movado Museum Sport Pvd Mens Stainless-steel Black Dial Diamond WatchMens Movado Museum 84 E4 1983 Stainless Steel WatchMovado Sapphire Mens Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire Crystal Full SetLadies Steel Movado Ono Mother Of Pearl Dial Original Diamond Dress WatchMovado Mens Monto S.s Black Dial Diamond WatchStunning Movado Swiss Gents Oversized Wristwatch, 15 J. *serviced* No Reserved!!Movado Bold Chronograph Men's Watch - Black - Pre-owned Mens Movado Black Museum Collection 84 45 1891 WatchVintage Movado Zenith Diver WatchMovado Mens Stainless Steel Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Se PilotVintage Ss Movado Kingmatic Caliber 531 Automatic 28 Jewels , Running,Working Movado Vizio Ladies S/s 18k Gold Bezel Watch With 18k Accents * E081Movado Mens S.s Museum Silver Dial Diamond WatchMovado Lady's 28mm Gold Watch W/ Leather BandLadies Amorosa Movado Museum Black Dial & Stainless Slick Design Wrist WatchLadies Sapphire Movado Watch Model 89.c1.1841 With Black Dial Movado Juro Mens Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire Crystal Stunner!Authentic Movado Esperanza 84 H5 1400 Mop Diamonds Stainless Steel Women WatchMovado Gents Sports Edition Chronograph Watch 6051531930's Movado 15 Jewelled Swiss Lever Ermeto Purse Watch In Working OrderMovado $595 Men's All Black W/ Blue Museum Dot And Hands Swiss Watch 3600099Movado Museum Ss Mens Watch Swiss 41.33 Mm NiceVintage Movado Kingmatic 28 Jewels Sub Sea Automatic 14k Gold Filled RunningVintage Ss Movado Caliber 125 Running For Parts.Men's Swiss Movado Fiero Tonneau Tungsten Carbide WatchMovado S.s Womens Junior Sport Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Esperanza Mens Blue Dial Stainless Steel Swiss Quartz Watch 0604122Movado 84 G1 1892 Black Dial Stainless Steel Sports Edition Quartz WatchMovado 84 E4 0863 Mens Dress WatchMovado Esq Ladies Watch 06.3.14 5545 Stainless Watch With BookletMovado $650 Women's Gold Stainless Steel Swiss Watch, Bold 3600085, Museum DotHuge Lot Of 59 Watches: Perregaux Gruen Movado Montauk Elgin, Some Vintage, GoldStunning Movado Museum 1853 Two Tone & Diamond Ladies Wristwatch, No Reserve!Movado Se Sport Ladies Tan WatchMovado Meza Mens Silver Dial Stainless Steel Swiss Quartz Watch 0604833Movado Men's Museum Watch In Original BoxMovado 84 C2 1895.1 Series 800 Red Face Divers Watch Swiss QuartzMovado Bold Ladies Diamond Watch Movado S.s Womens Masino 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchMens Movado Museum Stainless And Black Leather Slick Two Tone Watch W/boxVery Nice Two Tone Gold & S/s *movado* Men*s 71/2 81-g2-1898 Sapphire CrystalgrtLot Of Vintage Watch Movements Parts Or Repair Omega Movado Elgin 32Movado Valor Men’s Mirror Museum Dial Tungsten Carbide Sapphire Crystal StunnerMovado Vizio 18k Gold M.o.p. Diamond Bezel (mother Of Pearl) Women's WatchMovado 7553 Womens White Leather Stainless Steel Analog Watch BhfoMovado $650 Women's Gold Stainless Steel Bold Series Swiss Watch 3600085Movado Museum Ladies WatchMovado Swiss ( Stainless ) Mens ( 84 E7 1890 ) 5377220 Wristwatch ( L@@k ) Wow Mens Movado 87-e4-0863, Quartz, Brown Leather Band, Water Resistant