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 Datron Hs 360 By Zenith Triple Register Chronograph El Primero Sub-seaVintage Movado Triple Date 18k Solid Gold Hand Wind Excellent No ReserveVintage Movado 14kt Solid Gold Triple Date Calendar Mens Watch Circa 1940s WorksMovado Kingmatic Automatic Day Date Chronograph Stainless Steel Valjoux 7750 Movado 0605871 Swiss Men's Wristwatch Water Resistant MintMens 1950s Movado Automatic Swiss Made Borgel 14k Gold Capped Stainless Watch A+Movado $595 Men's All Black Bold Series Swiss Watch 3600047Rare Vintage Mechanical Movado * 17 Jewels * - Swiss Made -Vintage Movado Zenith Museum Watch.Movado Mens S.s Faceto Black Dial Diamond Watch Men's Rare Early Movado 15 J Cal.150mn Wristwatch Sterling Silver Case RunsMovado Mens S.s Museum Gold Tone Black Dial Diamond WatchMens Gold & Stainless Movado Esperanza 84 G2 1881 Wrist Watch Museum DialMovado Mens S.s Meza Silver Dial Diamond WatchMovado Ermeto Vintage Swiss Watch Hand Winding Sterling Silver Crocodile LeatherMen Movado Se Pilot Chronograph Watch With Box Paper & Extended Protection PlanMovado 84 E4 9879 Stainless Museum Dial Mens WatchMovado Bold Digital Touch Screen Men's Watch Mb Awesome 3600144Lot (3) Vintage Tiffany & Co, Juvenia, And Movado Wrist WatchesVintage Watch Lot - Mostly Mechanical Watches - Movado - Tissot - Leonidas +++Mint Movado Museum Sport Black Pvd Stainless Steel Used Authentic Real WarrantyMovado Swiss Made 84g11896 Men's Sports Watch Solid Black Dial Stainless SteelMovado Sapphire Ladies WatchMens Watch Lot Movado Calendar Seiko Moonphase Citizen Girard Perregaux 0.99$ NrMovado Mens Watch14kwhite Gold Movado Zenith Diamond Dial Classic Museum Mechanical WatchMen's Esq By Movado Quartz Mvt Water Resistant ChronographMovado Museum Sport Stainless Steel Men's Watch (1912853) ( Men's Wrist Watch Vtge Rare Movado Kingmatic "s" Sub Sea Square Automatic Men Watch. 70s.Movado Tungsten Carbide Watch 89 C6 1850 Museum WatchBoss Hugo Boss By Movado Ladies Leather Ss 380811081711 Date Black Silver ToneMovado Bold Touch Screen Digital Dual Time Black Mens Watch 3600144 Msrp $495.00Movado Museum 70 42 887 14k Gold Swiss Quartz Men's WatchLot Of 9 Mixed Watches!! Rado, Bulova, Movado And More! Mens Movado Stainless Steel Kingmatic Diver's Automatic 200m Men's Date WatchMens Movado 84 G2 1899 Stainless Steel Museum Wrist Watch Francois Borgel Ralco Movado Military Type Watch Retailed By Stevenson AdelaideLadies Movado Museum Stainless Steel Black Dial Swiss Quartz Watch Not WorkingMovado S.s Mens S.s Eliro Black Dial Diamond WatchTwo Toned Gold Silver Movado Men's WatchMovado Se Sport Edition Ladies Stainless Steel Watch Authentic! No Reserve!Men's Esq Movado 07300889 Stainless Steel Quest White Chronograph Dial WatchPre-owned Ladies Movado Portico Ref 84a11845s Black Dial Diamond Watch N/r.Pre-owned Movado Valor Ref 89.c1.1432 Tungsten Carbite Mens Watch N/r.Movado Valor Tungsten Watch 89.c6.1871 Big BraceletMovado 84 A1 1846 Ladies Stainless Steel WatchVintage Classic Movado Museum Ladies Watch - Gold 2 Movado Eliro Watches As-isMovado Mid Size Mans Watch 2 Tone Steel And Gold Case Manual WindMovado Men's Wrist Watch10179863Movado Collection Men's Quartz Watch 011141050Movado Goldtone Mens Watch With Goldtone Face Extra LinkMovado 84 G1 4896 Luxury Stainless Steel Mirror Face WatchLadies Movado Military Masino Diamonds Black Dial Stainless Steel Swiss WatchMovado Mens Gold Tone Watch 81a5863 Swiss QuartzUsed And Resized Movado Women's 605394 La Nouvelle WatchDouble Movado Gift Box Only Plus Operating Manual StorageExcellent Men's Gold Tone Movado Watch With Original Band! #h18Movado Mens S.s Gentry Black Dial Diamond Watch