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 Triple Date Wristwatch Vintage 1960's Men's Movado Kingmatic S Sub-sea Watch Very Clean 14k Gold FilledMovado Men's Series 800 Chronograph - Black Performance Watch - Model 2600096Vintage Movado Ermeto Chronometer Sterling Silver Purse Watch - Cal 150 MnVintage Movado C.1940's Triple Date 14k Gold Manual Wind Swiss's Men's Movado Sapphire Synergy Chronograph Black Rubber Strap 42mm Mens WatchMovado C 95m Chronograph Vintage Watch - Fully ServicedMovado Series 800 Black Chronograph Stainless Steel Mens Watch Bold Chronograph Wristwatch W/ Ceramic BandStunning Mens Movado Corporate Exclusive Silver Dial Diamond Watch Men's Movado Kingmatic Chronograph Automatic Watch, Valjoux 7750Movado Women's Classic Watch (87.e3.817.1)Excellent Vintage 1950's Movado Tempomatic Sub Sea Cal 2894 25js Steel Red DateMen's Movado Silver Face Mirror Dial Museum Swiss Quartz Luxury Wristwatch 128gMovado Vizio Series Chronograph Mens Swiss Automatic Watch 0606324Movado C 95m Chronograph Vintage Watch - Fully ServicedAuthentic Classic Movado Men's Dress Swiss Made Black Dial Watch NrWomen's Movado Bold Black/pink Leather WatchMovado Museum 2100002 Wrist Watch For MenMovado Series 800 Chrono Men's Leather Strap Deployment Buckle 141141144Mens Movado Horwitt Stainless Watch Black Museum Dial 84f.1891 Automatic Movado Museum Harmony Mother Of Pearl 18k Gold Plated Steel Watch 88 A1 809 AMovado Zenith Museum Gold Plated Mens Watch 50.0020.053Authentic Movado Swiss Museum Case Two Tone Case & Band Mens Round Wrist WatchMovado Museum Stainless Steel Gold Ladies Watch 50.3 Grams NrMovado Ladies WatchVintage 1960's Men's Movado Kingmatic S Square 28j Automatic Watch Fully Signed Stunning Mens Movado Series 800 Chronograph Black Dial Diamond WatchAuthentic Movado Museum Womens Stainless Steel Swiss WatchMovado Aviso 14k Sold Gold Diamond Bezel Ladies Watch 19x28mm Gold Band 33.6gWomen's Movado Museum Watch Model Number 953951Movado Mens Watch Black Pvd StainlessMen's Movado Stainless Steel Black Dial Watch Model #84 G2 1899 (h39)No Reserve!! Movado Men's Museum' Stainless Steel Swiss Quartz WatchMovado Vizio 83-c5-1890 Men's Stainless Steel Chronograph Quartz Watch...Movado Museum Automatic Self-winding Stainless Steel Men's Watch 84 F4 1890Movado Black Dial Fiero Tungsten Carbide Steel Quartz Watch 89 C6 1453Men's Movado Sports Edition Museum Blue Face Dial Watch 84-g1-1892Very Rare Movado Ladies Diamond And Platinum Art Deco Watch High Grade MovementVintage Movado, 30's Men Wrist Watch, Cal. 470, 15 Jwls, Hi Grade Mov. RareAuthentic Movado Gold Tone Museum Womens Swiss Watch With Leather StrapMovado Concerto Authentic Stainless Ladies Watch 84.g4 1842Esq Movado Men's 7301239 Beacon Chronograph Black Pvd WatchMen's Movado Gentry Silver Dial Chronograph Watch 0605068Movado Ladies 063201014 Stainless Steel Watch, Swiss Movement, Band Length: 6"Men's Movado WatchMovado 84 G2 1881 Esperanza Two-tone Stainless Steel Men's Swiss WatchMovado Esperanza Mens Black Museum Dial Stainless Steel Sapphire Crystal 18k GpMovado 800 Series Mens WatchAuthentic Movado Exclusive Mens Quartz Stainless Steel Watch 0606165Movado 84 G1 1882 Mens Se Sports Edition Stainless Steel Blue Dial Wrist Watch. Movado Eliro Stainless Steel Mens Watch Swiss Quartz 30.5mm Style # 84 C6 1452Authentic Movado Swiss Movement Two Tone Case & Band Mens Round Wrist Watch NrNice Movado Museum Stainless Steel Ladies Watch W/ Box Still Under Warranty!Movado Se Sport Edition Mens Stainless Steel Watch Mod. 0604480 White Dial - Nr!Movado Series 800 Mens Watch Retail $1,200Vintage Movado Kingmatic Sub-sea 28 JewelsMen's Esq By Movado Quest 07300948 Blue Gray Torneau Dial W/ Date Ss WatchWomen's Movado WatchMovado Mens Wristwatch 84 G2 883 Museum Dial Stainless Steel Swiss Quartz -great