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    

Rare Vintage 18k Solid Gold Movado Datron Hs 360 Chronograph Man's Watch!Movado Chronograph Datron Hs 360 (w/ Original Stainless Steel Band) VintageMovado Bold Ladies Swiss Watch Black White Leather Band 3600054 Classic In BoxMovado $395 Men's All Black Bold Series Swiss Leather Strap Watch 3600170, Stunning Movado S.s Mens Museum Black Dial Diamond WatchVintage Zenith Movado Museum Calibre 2572c Yellow Dial Top Date Wristwatch Stunning Movado Mens Luno Sport 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchVintage Men’s Stainless Steel Movado Dayton W/ Zenith MovementMovado Sport Watch Chronograph 84r51890 Perfect Condition Like Series 800Vintage Movado 1950's Automatic Bumper Subsidiary Second Men's Watch Cal # 1649Vintage Movado Triple Date Full Calender Men's Gents Wrist Watch~working~video!!Vintage Movado Zenith Calibre 2552 Gold Plated Burgundy Dial Wristwatch Vintage Movado Two Tone Stainless Steel Men's Watch Watch 8" Long, No Clasp!!Movado Mens S.s Estimo Black Dial Full Case Diamond Watch Esq By Movado Men's Excel Grey Dial Leather Band Mens Watch 07301430 Stunning Movado Mens Junior Sport Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Womens Rondiro S.s Diamond Mirror Dial WatchMovado Vizio 83-c5-1890 Tungsten Carbide Chronograph Black Carbon Fiber Watch Movado Sport 800 Series Quartz Chronograph Watch 84 C6 1896.1 **no Reserve**Movado Museum Watch Men's Wristwatch, Gold-plated W/ BraceletBoss Orange Hugo Boss By Movado Mens Digital Analog Chrono 1512680 Watch Stunning Movado Mens Lancy Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Se Sport Edition Chronograph Mens Stawatch 0604769Movado Esperanza Steel Ladies Watch 04 3 14 1011Boss Orange Hugo Boss By Movado Mens Digital Analog Chrono 1512680 Watch Movado 87 E4 0863 Black Musuem Dial Gold Plated / Stainless Steel Leather WatchStunning Movado Mens Monto Black Dial Diamond Watch18kt Gold Movado Man's WatchAuthentic Swiss Movado Amorosa 18k Gold Plate Ladies Watch Model# 0604758Movado Watch 84g11853, Analog, Luxury: Dress Styles, Men's Modern(2000-present)Genuine Vintage*movado*quartz-original Black Leather Fully Signed Strap (beauty)Movado Museum Men's 0606504 Watch Great ConditionMovado Men's Watch Stainless Steel Black Face With Box 0606367No Reserve ~ Movado Museum 84-g1-1855, Analog, Dress, Leather Mens Watch-blackMovado Museum Mens Watch..running Great!!Movado Bold Digital Touch Screen Dual-time Stainless Steel Unisex Watch 3600146Movado Esq $425 Men's Silver-tone Chronograph Swiss Watch, Stopwatch 07300889Authentic Movado Trembrili Women's Mirror Dial Diamond WatchMan's Retro Movado Watch With Black Band And Dial Movado Museum Ladies Watch 20.2320.315 Old Vintage Movado Kingmatic 28 Jewels 14k Gold Filled Mens Wristwatch Parts Movado Sports Edition Se Men's Watch - Stainless Steel, Blue Dial, Swiss MadeMovado Automatic Mens Red Label Museum Watch 84 P2 1891Movado Sapphire Synergy Mens Black Dial Swiss Quartz WatchVintage Movado Ss Calendar Case And Partial MovementsMovado Museum Dial Two Tone Stainless Steel Swiss Made Women's Watch Quartz NrVintage Movado Ermeto Calendermeto Triple Date Moonphase Purse Watch W/ BoxVintage 14k Yellow Gold Movado Watch, Manual Wind, Flip Case Mens Swiss Authentic Movado Esperanza Two 2 Tone Stainless Steel 0600451 WatchHandsome Men's Steel Movado Watch! Large Size! 112.9 Grams! #s31Movado Museum Wrist Watch For MenMovado Ladies Two- Tone Folio Museum Watch Authentic 81 E4 9812Movado Women's 0605284 Kara Pink Dial Stainless Steel WatchMovado Watch: Bold. Black And Tortoise Shell.Movado Cerena Stainless Steel Diamond Dail Date 36mm Ladies Watch Movado For "tiffany & Co." 14k Solid Yellow Gold Fancy Lugs Center Seconds!!Movado Wrist Watch For Men (broken)Authentic Movado 87 E3 817 V699 Gold Toned Ladies Museum Watch Pre-owned BeautyMovado Museum Dial Two Tone Stainless Steel Swiss Made Men's Watch No ReserveMovado Quartz Mens Watch Ss Full Size