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    

Movado Bold Chronograph Black Dial Leather Mens Ss Watch 3600014 In Box Movado Bold Aluminum Mens Swiss Watch Leather Band 3600072 Classic In Box BlackStunning Mens S.s Movado Monto Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Bold Mens Swiss Watch Black Leather Band 3600018 Classic In Box PinkVintage Movado Calendoplan Date Button Big Case 128 Sc Calibre Wristwatch 1940Movado Eliro Mens Watch Black Dial Stainless Steel Band 0605377 Swiss In BoxMovado Bold Ladies Swiss Watch Black White Leather Band 3600054 Classic In BoxVintage Movado Calendomatic Triple Date 14k Gold Watch 1940'sVintage Movado Kingmatic S Sub-sea Calibre 395 Automatic Wristwatch / RestoreMens Nice 1940s Movado Sport 14k Rose Gold & Stainless Steel Vintage Swiss WatchMovado Bold Chronograph Black Dial Purple Aluminum Mens Watch 3600169 BoxMovado Bold Matte Black Dial Titanium Mens WatchAuthentic Movado Bold Large Black Bracelet Chronograph Mens Watch 3600048 $650Stunning Movado Mens Corporate Exclusive Black Dial Diamond WatchStunning! Movado Mens Authentic Two Tone Diamond Watch! No Reserve!Movado Automatic Black Leather Stainless Steel 42mm Men's Watch 0606485Movado Se Sports Edition Mens Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel 18k GpMovado Eliro Black Dial Stainless Steel Mens Watch 84 C6 1452 Swiss Made Movado Bold Yellow Gold Mb. Museum Two Tone Men's WatchMen's Movado Stainless Steel Black Dial Watch Model # 84 G2 1899Women's Movado 18k WatchStunning Movado Mens S.s Sento Black Dial Diamond WatchS/s Gents Movado Astrograph Triple Date Calendar Moonphase Wrist Watch NrMovado Bold Black Chronograph Watch With Leather Strap - 36000141950 Classic Movado Oversized Mens Wristwatch Subseconds! Wow!Stunning Movado S.s Mens Sl Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Moon Phase Quartz 87-03-822 Women's Black Leather Band Wrist WatchMovado Bold Bangle Style Gold-tone Women's Watch 3600201Excellent Working Movado Ladies WatchMovado Mens Corporate Exclusive Black Dial Full Case Diamond WatchMovado Bold 3600147 Chronograph Stainless Steel Men's Watch Movado Ermeto Travel Purse Watch Clock Authentic Men's Blue Movado Special Edition (se) WatchLadies Movado 84 A1 1845 S Diamond Bezel Mother Of PearlMovado Bold Digital Touch Men's Watch: Mb01.1.34.6060, Black, Led Touch ScreenVintage Rare Movado Ermeto Art Deco Deslice Purse/travel Or Table Swiss Made Movado Ladies Esperanza Mother Of Pearl Museum Dial Gold Watch 84-25-811.4pExtremly Rare...chronometre Movado....15 Jewels...40's....check It!!Movado Bold Chronograph Purple Aluminum Mens Watch 3600169 Box Date Day BlackMovado Watches Mens Fiero And ValorMovado Mens Unisex Museum Dial 87 33 882 Working Wrist WatchStunning Movado Ladies S.s Black Dial Diamond Watch Esq By Movado Men's Stainless Steel Watch 07301409 Blue Swiss Made In BoxMovado Sprita Stainless Steel Black Quartz Ladies Watch 604685Vintage Movado Calendomatic Triple Date 225m Bumper Automatic Movement + DialMovado Men's Watch Serio Black Museum Dial Sapphire Crystal, Swiss Quartz Movado Luno 84 E7 1850 Silver Face Stainless Museum Mens WatchMovado Museum Stainless Steel Mens Watch 01 1 141001Vintage Movado Sub-sea Steel Case 608 Calibre Classy Automatic Wristwatch Stunning Movado Mens S.s Gold Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchHandsome Men's Stainless Steel And Gold Tone Movado Sports Edition Watch! S32Stunning Men's Movado 81-a2-889 Watch 8" Long 97520-1Movado Classic Museum Ladies Black Leather Swiss Quartz WatchStunning Movado Mens Sprita 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Womans Watch 14k Gold Diamond BezelS/s Gents Vintage Movado Calendomatic Triple Date Manual Wind Wrist Watch NrMovado Se Sport Edition Mens Silver Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire CrystalMovado 81e7878 Two Tone Stainless Steel Black Museum Dial Men's WatchMovado Vizio 83 65 868 Unisex Date Carbide Steel Rose Dial Eta Quartz $0.99 Nr