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 Sub Sea Chronograph Panda Dial 95 Caliber Manual #3797Vintage Art Deco Ladies Movado Solid 14k Gold Snake Chain Bracelet Watch~runsAuthentic Movado Men's S.s Luno Sport Silver Dial Diamond WatchMovado Bold Chronograph Black/blue Men's WristwatchMovado Mens S.s Gold Tone Museum Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Juro' Men's 0605023 Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Link Watch 15 Piece Vintage Watch Lot. Bulova Accutron Diver, Movado, Elgin, MoreMen's Movado Vizio Stainless Chrono Date Swiss Quartz Watch 83 C5 1890 W/boxMovado Chronograph 19068 Subsea SteelMovado Quadro 28 1 14 1121 Men's Stainless Steel Watch - 7.25"Movado Mens S.s Sportivo Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Ermeto Chronometre Art Deco Purse Watch 1930s - Slide Wind 1950-movado-vintage-mens-chronograph- Doctor's Watch With Original BoxCoach 1941 By Movado Ladies Silver Tone C Bezel Cuff Bangle Ss WatchMovado Mens Sports Edition 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Museum Quartz, Black Sapphire Crystal Mens Wristwatch 84-40-880-a Runs!Movado (75259830) 14k Gold - Diamond Bezel - Quartz - Women's Wrist WatchAuthentic Movado Men's S.s Masino 2 Tone Diamond WatchMovado Men's 81-e4-9886 Stainless Steel Swiss Quartz Watch Museum Dial BoxMovado Mens S.s Museum Black Dial Diamond WatchVintage Movado 18k Gold Top Bumper Automatic Men's WatchMovado Museum Men's Quartz Watch 2100002Vintage & Nos Watch Parts,rolex Omega Lecoultre Movado Benrus Bulova AccutronMovado Sapphire Crystal Wristwatch Movado Splendit Solid 18ct Rose GoldMovado Mens Watch 84 E7 1891 Sapphire CrystalMovado Turler Zurich Travel Watch 935 Sterling Silver Sliding Croc Case ~ RunsMovado Mens S.s Museum Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Luno Sport 84.g1.1853 Grey Museum Dial Men's Dress WatchMovado Stainless Steel & Gold Mens Sport Edition Wrist Watch Model 86 A2 876kMovado Se Sports Edition Stainless Steel Watch 84.g1.1892Movado Juro Mens Watch 81 G2 1899 (two -tone) Quartz/stainless Steel/gold Movado Series 800 Chronograph Rubber Strap Sapphire Crystal Box And PapersMovado Series 800 Chronograph Stainless Steel Sapphire Crystal Box And Papers Movado Sports Museum Dial Swiss Made Stainless Steel Men's Watch Nr 81 E7 1850Broken Movado Vizio 84 C5 898 Men's Chronograph Watch - 7.25" As-isMen's Movado Kingmatic Automatic Chronograph 84-g5-897 Stainless Steel WatchMovado Bold Mens Swiss Watch Black Leather Band 3600224 Classic In Box RedMovado Womens Stainless Steel Dangle Swiss Watch - 84-a1-1830-s (a)Movado Amorosa 81 E4 1842 Ladies Diamond Watch - 7"Movado Mens Museum Stainless Steel 84 G2 1899 - Very Good Condition!Movado Museum Watch Ladies With Case Gold With Black BandMovado Men's Sapphire Mirror Museum Watch Stainless Steel - 84 G1 2896Movado Stainless Steel Mens Wrist Watch Size 7.25" Model 84 G1 1899Movado Esq $450 Men's Swiss Two-tone Steel Diamond Watch Square Venture 7301380Boss Hugo Boss By Movado Ladies Leather Ss 380811081711 Date Black Silver ToneAuthentic Movado Black Museum Dial Sapphire Crystal Steel Men's Watch Size 7 1/2Used Movado Silver Dial Mens Watch 41mm Quartz 84 G1 1853Movado Esperanza Two Tone Womens Stainless Steel Swiss Watch 0600456Movado Museum Quartz,black Pvd,men'sMovado Se Sport Edition Mens Stainless Steel Watch 0604480Mens Authentic Swiss Movado Moderno Classic Museum 604230 Stainless Steel WatchMovado Junior Sport Ladies Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire CrystalMovado S.s Womens Vivo 2 Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchOriginal Two Tone Movado Museum Black Dial Mens Or Womens Wrist Watch With BoxStunning 34mm Movado 87-52-891 Men's Watch - Runs (gs51)Authentic Movado Swiss Zenith Black Dial Lady Watch In Orig Case It Works Movado Rondiro Ladies Diamond Bezel WatchWatch Lot Gshock,rolex,movado,waterbury,fossil Asis For Pars Or RepairGenuine Movado Se Sport Edition Mens Stainless Steel Swiss Watch 0604458