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    

S/s Gents Movado Astrograph Triple Date Calendar Moonphase Wrist Watch NrRare Original Movado Triple Calendar Manual Wind St. Steel Vintage Mens WatchMovado Mens Museum Black Dial Diamond WatchDerek Jeter Captain Series Movado Bold Quartz Wrist Watch In Case W/coa Movado Mens Museum Black Dial Full Case Diamond WatchMovado Bold Swarovski Crystal Black Dial Grey Leather Strap Ladies Watch 3600138Movado Bold Aluminum Mens Swiss Watch Silicone Band 3600168 Classic In Box BlueMovado Mens S.s Museum Black Dial Diamond WatchVintage Zenith - Movado Gray Dial 2552 C Calibre Hand Wound Wristwatch Movado Watches Mens Fiero And ValorMovado Valour Tungsten Carbide Mens Wrist Watch Scratch Proof 89.c6.1871Womens Movado S.s Amorosa Black Dial Diamond WatchClassic... Movado (zenith) 15 ! .Handsome Men's Black Face Movado Watch With Leather Band! Exceptional! #j3Movado Vizio 0606083 Stainless Steel Tungsten Analog Swiss Chronograph Men's WatMovado Men's Two Tone Watch 81.e2.887.2 100% Authentic ''no Reserve "S/s Gents Vintage Movado Calendomatic Triple Date Manual Wind Wrist Watch NrMovado Bold Rose Goldtone Stainless Steel Midsize WatchMovado Series 800 84 65 1850 Dive Watch For MenVintage Movado Ladies Manual Winder Rose Gold Cap Pointer Date Model Watch 1950sStunning Movado Mens 2 Tone Corporate Exclusive Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Bold Ladies Swiss Watch Black White Leather Band 3600054 Classic In BoxMovado Bold Stainless Steel Midsize Watch With Rose AccentsRare Vintage 1940s Movado Chronometre 18k Gold Mens Watch RunningMovado Belamoda Stainless Steel Diamond Black Quartz Ladies Watch 606263Movado Men's Black Stainless Steel WatchTiffany & Co. Movado Platinum .38ct Vs1/f Diamond Mechanical Ladies WatchMovado Museum Mens All Stainless 84 G2 1899 Wrist Watch W Booklets - Mint Cond -Movado Ladies Silver Tone Link Band Swiss Watch Black Dial 0606558 In BoxMovado Stainless Steel Museum Mans Wrist WatchMovado Museum Mens WatchMovado Men's WatchMovado Women's Pink Dial Wristwatch! Esq By Movado Diamond Mens Stainless Steel Watch 07301361 Swiss Sport ClassicMovado Mens WatchMovado Bold Swiss Chronograph Gold Stainless Steel Unisex Luxury Dress WatchMovado Ladies Museum Diamond Bezel 14k Yellow Gold Stainless Watch Movado Sportivo Black Dial Men's Stainless Steel Wrist WatchMovado Fiero Tungsten Ladies Watch 89 C1 1435 S Diamond Bezel Quartz MovementMovado Women's 0606470 Concerto Two-tone Mother-of-pearl Dial WatchVintage Rare Movado Ermeto Art Deco Deslice Purse/travel Or Table Swiss Made Vintage Movado Zenith Museum Men's Watch 14k GoldAuthentic Movado Sl Two Tone Men's Diamond WatchMovado 84.45.1891 Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Wristwatch **needs Battery**Movado Bold Round Bracelet Watch 36mm Silver Movado Quartz Gold Plated & Steel Men Watch (87-66-885)Movado 19 1 14 1089 Men's Stainless Steel Watch - 7.25"Movado Gentry Sport Mens Wrist Watch 81 N2 1890 Stainless Two Tone - Mint Cond -Movado Bold Aluminum Mens Swiss Watch Silicone Band 3600168 Classic In Box BlueMovado Series 800 Diamond Stainless Steel Black Quartz Ladies Watch 2600054Movado 14k Goldwatch, Great Condition, Original Box!Authentic Movado Lancy Two Tone Men's Diamond Watch Movado Men's Sport Gold Watch Analog 87 27 862 Ser701 261 Moon PhaseMovado Mens Museum Watch Movado Pvd Bold Museum # 84 G1 3896 Stainless Steel Watch Crystal Black FaceVintage Movado Manual. Cal. 75. Unisex. Special Band. Good Conditions. WorkingMen's Movado Museum Watch SilverEstate Fresh! Movado Non-magnetic Chronograph Watch ~ Gradue Pour 30 PulsationsMovado Silver Stainless Steel Museum Men's Watch 84 E4 9890 Perfect Condition!Movado Fiero Tungsten Carbide Chronograph Watch