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 Early Movado Manual Wind Triple Calendar Wristwatch Movado Concept 60 Sapphire 21 Jewel Limited Edition Automatic Wrist Watch W/boxMovado Museum 30.r3.1890 18k Wg 60th Anniversary Skeleton Giant Men's WatchMen's Movado Vizio Tungsten Carbide Steel Chronograph Ref 83c51890 As Is #3563Movado 14k Solid Gold Automatic With Gold Textured Dial And Original Box!!!Movado Men's Sports Edition With Gray Dial 84 G1 1892Movado Diamond Mens WatchStunning....movado By Zenith...15 Jewels....40's...central!!Movado Vizio Museum Mens Automatic Watch 83 A9 1886Movado Bold Woman's Watch Mens Movado Authentic Swiss Made Valor Tungsten Carbide Steel Watch Movado Men's Sapphire Synergy Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch With BoxMovado Men's Sapphire Museum Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch With BoxMovado Automatic Mens Cushion Watch 84 F4 1342Movado Sportivo Black Dial Mens Stainless Steel WatchMovado Men's Juro Diamond Silver Watch Sapphire Crystal Stainless Steel 0605721Mens Vintage Movado Triple Calendar Mint Perfect Dial CalendographMovado Valor Tungsten Carbide 89.c6.1871 Men's WatchMovado Mens Watch 89.c6.1871 Free Shipping UsedStunning Movado Mens Masino Black Dial Full Case Diamond WatchMovado Men's Two Tone Watch 81.e2.877.2 Swiss MadeMovado Se Sport Edition Mens Stainless Steel Watch 0604480Movado Automatic Museum Stainless Watch 0605117- 37mm Face- Does Not Work--usedMovado Se Sport Edition Mens Silver Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire CrystalMovado Men's Quartz Gold WatchMovado Manual Wind Wristwatch With Bombe Lugs ~ 15 Jewel ~ Caliber 470Men's Movado WatchMovado Fiero Tungsten Carbide Square Women's Watch LadiesMen's Black Anodized Stainless Steel Movado Luno Sport 84 G1 1853 A Movado Esperanza Mens White Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire Crystal 18k GpWomens Watch Lot 11 Higher End Vintage Analog Quartz Watches Movado VictorinoxStunning Movado Mens Esperanza Black Dial Diamond WatchMen's Retro Movado Museum Swiss 87.45.882 Black Gold Tone Small Dial Watch VgcMovado Ladies Esperanza 84-25-811 Two Tone Stainless Gold Watch Movado Sports Edition 88 G1 1892 Swiss Quartz Gold Plated WatchMovado 14k Solid Gold Kingmatic Surf Sub-sea. Automatic Vintage Wristwatch.Movado Swiss Bold Gold-tone Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch 36mm 3600085 $595Movado Men's Swiss Museum Black Perforated Rubber Strap Watch 42mm 0606507 $795Rare Movado Mens Esperanza Blue Dial Diamond WatchMovado Bold Mens Watch Black Steel/pvd. Pre-owned.Swiss Movado Luno Men's Watch Model# 0605557 Extra Band Links Stainless SteelBlue Face Movado Bold With Black Leather BandMovado Mens Museum Watch 87 E4 0863Vintage Movado Hs 360 Kingmatic Video 1970s Stainless Steel Day Date Wrist WatchMovado Two-tone 84 19 861 Esperanza Ladies WatchMovado Swiss Made Luxury Watch For Women, Gold Museum Model, Black Face!S/s Men's Movado Carica 17 Jewel Manual Wind 36 Mm Watch 84.35.865 RunsMovado Men's 0606507Movado Bold Digital Touch Screen Dual-time Stainless Steel Mens Watch 3600146Movado Kingmatic Automatic WristwatchMen's Authentic Swiss Movado 81 C5 1897.0 800 Chronograph Two Tone Steel WatchStunning Movado Mens Sapphire Black Dial Diamond WatchMovado Series 800 Mens Black Ticn Steel Swiss Quartz Chronograph Watch 2600044Movado Sapphire Stainless Steel Mirror Dial Men's Dress Watch 0606093Unused Movado Men’s Sapphire Crystal Two-tone Wristwatch With Case And BoxMovado Museum Gold Tone Quartz Watch 87-25-832 No ReserveMovado 87-e4-0885 Leather Strap Black Dial Swiss Quartz Dress Men's WatchVintage Men's Movado 84.d7.877 Kingmatic Automatic 200 Meter Divers Watch Hk120Movado 84 G1 1896 Stainless Steel Museum Dial Men's Wrist Watch Stunning Movado Mens Monto 2 Tone Black Dial Full Case Diamond Watch