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    

Estate ~ Vintage 1970 Movado Datron Sub Sea Hs 360 El Primero Chronograph ~wow70s Movado Zenith Datron Hs360 Pilot Three Registers Automatic Diver ChronographVintage Men's Movado Triple Date Moon Phase Quartz WatchTiffany & Co By Movado 14k Gold Genuine Diamond Ladies Mesh Wristwatch 0.50ctMen's Movado Automatic Stainless Steel Watch Series 800 Swiss Made Date WrSilver Movado Ermeto Chronometro Purse Watch C1930Movado Bold Black Blue Dial Mb.01.1.29.6015Movado Mens Museum 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchMens 1960's 14k Solid Gold Movado Sub Sea-17j Swiss Cal. 337- Signed 4xVintage Movado Ermeto Leather Triple Date Moon Phase Travel Watch - WorksMovado Men's 605621 Fiero Tungsten Carbide Dress Watch Gents Rare Vintage Movado With Subdial Wind Up Watch Running Movado Mens Lx Stainless-steel Black Dial Diamond WatchMen's Movado CircaMen's "movado" Chronograph Wrist WatchVtge Movado Datron Hs 360. Extremely Rare Panda Dial. Automatic Chronograph.60sMovado Women's Swiss Bold Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch 36mm 3600334Movado Men's Watch Stainless Steel Water Resistance Sapphire Chrystal 84 G1 1853Movado $695 Mens Museum Gold Stnlss Steel Black Dial,leather Swiss Watch 0600955Women Or Men's Movado Watch Movado Bold 01.1.34.6136 Gold Ionic Plated Museum Dial WatchMovado Museum 0606505 Quartz Black Dial Stainless Steel Band Womens Watch Movado Mens Authentic Swiss Made Medalist Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel !!Movado Womens Kara 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Stainless Steel Black Face Men's WatchMovado Bold Black & Blue WatchMens Movado Museum Dial Wristwatch 84-c2-1893 Keeping Time. 100% AuthenticAuthentic Movado Ladies Mother Of Pearl Dial Diamond WatchMassive Genuine Tiffany 14k Gold Vintage 1950s Bumper Automatic Movado Mens WatcMovado Bold 3600103 Gunmetal Ion-plated Swarovski Crystal Swiss WatchGenuine 1940s Tiffany Movado 14k Gold Art Deco Vintage Wrist WatchMen's Movado Gentry Sport Stainless Steel 84 N2 1890 Black Dial WatchMens Authentic Swiss Movado Corporate Exclusive 0605973 Black Museum Dial WatchMovado Museum Two Tone Stainless Steel Watch 81.g1.1894 Swiss QuartzMovado Men's 0606626 'movado Lx' Stainless Steel Link Band Swiss Quartz WatchMovado Bold Mb.01.1.29.6015 Blue Black Dial Composite Stainless Case Mens WatchMovado Fiero Mens Platinum Tungsten Carbide Black Dial Swiss Watch 0605621Vintage C1940 Movado Chronometer Wrist Watch, 18kt Rose Gold Plated Case, 30mmMovado Museum Gold Tone Watch W/ Black Dial Model 88 G2 1851Movado Mens Eliro 84.c1.455a Gorgeous Ret $1695 Most Desireable! Lowest On Ebay!Coach By Movado 14501783 Ladies Tristen Silver Tone Stainless Quartz 32mm WatchMovado 84-25-811.4 2 Tone Gold Steel Ladies Swiss Quartz WatchUsed S/s Men's Movado Eliro Chronograph Quartz Watch Model 84 H1 1461 0 RunsMovado Museum Watch For WomenMen's Movado Two Tone Stainless Steel Watch 81 G1 1894Movado Sapphire Quartz Black Dial Stainless Steel Band Mens WatchMovado Bold Ladies Rose Tone Link Band Chronograph Swiss Watch 3600210 In BoxMovado Men's 84 G2 Black 1855.a Swiss MadeMovado Kingmatic Luxury Sport Chronograph Auto Day Date Watch, C. 1960-70's Mens Movado Blue Watch - Mb.01.1.29.6016Movado Monto Mens Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire Crystal 38mm CaseMovado Men's WatchMovado Se Sports Edition Blue Dial Ladies Stainless Museum Dial Watch 84.a1.1831Women's Movado Museum Collection Stainless Black Leather Swiss Quartz WatchMovado Mens Faceto Museum Diamond Bezel Stainless Watch 84-45-1891-s Movado Mens Two-tone Stainless Steel Black Dial Watch 0606557Movado Eliro Mens Stainless Steel 0604132 Swiss Made Watch Vintage Movado Mens Automatic Wristwatch Working Keeping TimeMovado 800 SeriesMovado