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Movado


Movado (Est. 1881) Movado’s official website introduces itself as, “Modern ahead of its time. Over the past 134 years, Movado has been a brand in motion – always changing, always innovating, always moving forward. This quest for innovation has made us one of the world’s premier watchmakers with more than 100 patents and 200 international awards for watch design and time technology. With a proud heritage of Swiss craftsmanship, design excellence, and technological innovation, Movado continues innovating into the future.”

Movado was founded by 19-year old watchmaker, Achille Ditisheim and a team of six employees in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The business prospered and by 1897, its staff consisted of 80 workers.

At the time, extravagant watchmaking exhibitions had become important world events: at the end of the 19th century, dozens were held with internationally reputed juries evaluating displayed watches and awarding prizes. Achille Ditesheim’s young firm had already won a silver medal in Paris in 1900. In 1905, it was awarded the gold medal for quality, creativity and design at the famed Liege Exposition in Belgium.

That was the same year the company also settled on the name “Movado” meaning, “always in motion” in the international language of Esperanto.

To accommodate its growing business, the company built and moved into a larger, modern factory on the outskirts of La Chaux-de-Fonds. An image of an uplifted hand holding an open pocket watch became the company’s trademark, appearing on the inner side of their watch case backs.

The Movado factory in La Chaux-de-Fonds had initially specialized in pocket watches. Early designs included ladies’ small pendant and shell-encased watches to distinctive eight-sided 18K gold pieces, and elegant engine-turned, jeweled cases in unique shapes.

In 1910 the company won the Grand Prix Exhibitions in Paris, Rome, Brussels and Rio de Janeiro for the introduction of 8 ½ ligne wristwatch movements. The introduction of the Polyplan watch in 1912 took the watch community by storm. These watches are highly sought after at auction today.

Like many watch producers, Movado endeavored to make watches thicker and thicker. When, in 1912, the company launched these original, elegant timepieces whose movement (calibre 400) was designed in layers (planes), they were given the name Polyplan. On two sides, the movement turned downward yet still perfectly fitted the case. The calibre 400 was big by that period’s contemporary measures. Even so, big balance gave high precision. In 1921, men generally wore pocket watches so the Polyplan became a significant achievement for the company.

The next important milestone in Movado history was the Ermeto watch that appeared in 1926. Its case was leak-proof and protective but also easy to open. Movado’s owners hoped that with this timepiece, they could overtake the market’s newly introduced wristwatches but those hopes were not realized. Movado watches had had great success but this third try at a breakthrough did not come.

Despite that, the company’s timepieces had many admirers and production continued unabated. During the 30s – 40s Movado manufactured original watches following market trends: first, waterproof watches, then, self-winding.

In 1947, American designer Nathan George Horwitt, a Russian by birth who had lived in New-York, created what would later be called the Museum Watch. It featured an uncluttered dial, with a simple gold dot marker at the 12 o’clock position. He likened the design to that of a sun-dial that recognizes the sun at its zenith at high noon.

Designing in the Bauhaus style, Horwitt’s goal was to create a watch that displayed time in its simplest iteration with the minimum quantity of graphic indicators. He came up with a big round watch with a very narrow rim and a black dial without hour markings. At the 12 o’clock position, there was a circle representing the sun. Time was read by two small hands around the 12 o’clock mark. A photographer and museum curator, Edward Steichen, saw the watch and wrote a note to Horwitt that said, “Your dial, to my mind, is the single example of original and beautiful design from all I have seen.” At first, the watch was produced by Vacheron & Constantin-Le Coultre Watches, Inc.

There are differing versions of what happened next. Some say that in 1948, contrary to his copyright, Horwitt’s watch was produced without permission or payment to him and he sued. Another version says that Horwitt unsuccessfully tried to sell his product to more than ten different companies without success. One thing that remains beyond debate is that, in 1959, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, exhibited a prototype of the watch and afterwards it was a part of the museum’s permanent exhibition, which garnered the name, Museum Watch.

In 1962, Movado acquired the design rights to the watch. Within three years, production started and acquired lasting success. In the 60’s and 70’s, the look of the Museum Watch changed: sometimes its case was rectangular, sometimes oval. The dial’s range of colors varied from yellow to orange, from blue to white. In the beginning of the 70s Movado began collaborating with Zenith and was absorbed by it, even as the Museum Watch remained in production.

The watch’s unique feature, its dial, is the reason why the model easily outlived the quartz crisis of the 70’s and 80’s: It had an enduring black and stylish foundation. Movado later teamed up with designers and artists such as Andy Warhol to create one-of-a-kind limited edition watches, which reside in museums, galleries, and collections today.

In 1982, a pioneer of American horology, Gedalio Grinberg (1931-2009), bought Movado from the Swiss company Dixi that was going through hard times after it purchased Movado and Zenith. Grinberg was an art lover and had been especially attracted to the beauty and history of the Museum Watch.

Born in Cuba, Grinberg, an entrepreneurial college-educated watch salesman from Havana, fled Castro’s revolution in 1960 and moved to the US with his family. In 1965, he founded the North American Watch Corporation (NAWC) which went public in 1993, changing its name to Movado Group, Inc. in 1996.

Grinberg, a watch industry visionary, recognized the potential of luxury watches and, even at the beginning of his career, marketed them accordingly. Under his leadership, NAWC acquired the Movado brand and with it, one of the most iconic watch dials of all time.

Back in 1965, Nathan George Horwitt, the designer of the Museum Watch, had a bone to pick with Grinberg. Horwitt paid him a visit to complain that the colored stone dials of Grinberg’s Piaget watches were copies of Horwitt’s Museum Watch design because the dials had no markings other than the Piaget logo.

Grinberg explained that the stone dials had to be unadorned and were so delicate that it was difficult to put even the Piaget name on them without their breaking. What’s more, Grinberg said, the Piaget dials did not resemble Horwitt’s famous black dial with the gold dot at 12 o’clock.

Shortly after Horwitt’s watch had been accepted into New York’s Museum of Modern Art permanent collection, and became known as the Museum Watch, Movado reached an agreement with Horwitt to use the watch in the Movado line. However, Movado sold Museum models only in the United States.

Grinberg sympathized with Horwitt because there were, indeed, numerous knockoffs of his design on the market. Piaget, though, was not one of them. Still, Horwitt sued him. In his filing, Horwitt claimed several brands were violating his copyright, including Piaget.

Both Grinberg and Horwitt won in court. The judge (Whittman Knapp, of Serpico fame) ruled that Piaget was not guilty of violating the patent. However, he said, other firms were, a victory for Horwitt.

Grinberg and Horwitt remained friends and the court cases put Movado on Grinberg’s radar. Grinberg admired the Museum Watch design and believed it should be the centerpiece of the company, not a U.S. sideline. In 1969, he made a bid to buy Movado, but was turned down.

Grinberg bided his time, while Movado struggled under a series of new owners: Zenith Watch Company (1969), Zenith Radio Corp. of Chicago (1972) and Dixi (1978). After Grinberg eventually acquired Movado in 1983, the Grinberg team created a new product line around the Museum Watch and a new advertising campaign aimed at a younger, more educated audience, with an interest in culture and the arts.

The formula worked. In 1987, Movado sales reached $50 million. Since then, it has become the core brand and flagship of Grinberg’s company, which officially became known as the Movado Group.

Grinberg, together with his son Ephraim, organized a big advertising campaign for the Museum Watch and it became an example of luxury and culture in the 80s. The watch, with the revival of mechanics, changed its look when it was given a mechanical filling.

Thanks to the dial, the watch became the trademark of the company. All Movado watches have a distinctive feature – one gold point at 12 o’clock position. The moving of its hands symbolize the moving of the Earth in its orbit. The brand is recognizable for its elegance and pure lines.

The Temo, Red Label, Faceto, Esperanza, Metio and Safito collections both for men and women also reflect aesthetic minimalism. Their common feature is the round dial like the classic Museum Watch. Cases are made of high-quality stainless steel. Dials are protected by a sapphire glass. Models are equipped with Swiss quartz movements. The singular qualities of these watches are also visible in the case designs, buckles and straps.

The Eliro collection features a rectangular case that fits a wrist perfectly and makes it very comfortable with its flexible alligator leather or high-quality rubber strap.

Movado’s Classical sports line watches from the Junior Sport and Series 800 collections combine bold and modern design. An improved steel bracelet and a durable folding clasp are functional features in the Junior Sport’s watches. Chronograph models feature a black dial and Arabic numerals. Watches from the Series 800 collection have a stainless steel case, a thermo-rubber strap or a steel bracelet with flexible plaiting. The mark located at 12 o’clock position is the same Movado Museum design.

There are also selective Movado watches decorated with brilliants or gold plated. The Juro line includes élite watches created in a sport style with brilliant hour markings. Bracelets are arranged in successive alternations of steel and gilded components.

Among women’s models the Ono collection is very elegant. The silver and gold bracelets of these watches consist of rings marked with the company’s main symbols. The traditional point inside is indicated with polished brilliant.

The Skeleton Dot line is an exclusive collection covering Movado’s 100+-year history. The movement can be seen through a small window on the dial. In 1990, the French artist Arman created an original design for the The Color of Time model. Its hands depict an artist’s brushes and its markings are conveyed in many-colored strokes.

In 1991 the Elapse, Eclipse, and Ellipse watches with three different dials in unique modern designs were on sale. The Bill-Time series showed a vivid play of various colors of dials and bracelets.

Today Movado watch collections include various models featuring original designs in glossy stainless steel cases with round dials, leather straps, and sapphire glass.

In March 2017, Movado announced a partnership with Google to launch Movado Connect, a smartwatch collection powered by Android Wear 2.0, Google’s redesigned platform. The Movado Connect was one of the first watches designed specifically for Android Wear 2.0 and launched in the fall of 2017 with five men’s styles at a starting price of $495 and available in the US, the Caribbean, Canada and the UK. The collection was officially unveiled at Baselworld 2017.

Movado most recent model, Edge, interprets the iconic Museum Dial through a heightened industrial design lens, characterized by a visually tactile form. The dial reinterprets Horwitt’s original vision in a three-dimensional representation with the dot rising from the dial’s curved, textured landscape. Sculpted linear peaks that form around the edge of the dial suggest the sun’s rays, while subtly marking the minutes.

Fusing form, function and inspiration, this collection includes men’s, women’s and chronograph models on stainless steel link bracelets with push-button deployment clasps, and black leather or black rubber straps with polished stainless steel buckles. Most styles feature exciting, subtle, and unexpected touches of color on the dial.

Movado Edge for men is crafted in solid polished stainless steel or black PVD-finished steel with a round 40 mm case. The concave dials are available in sandblasted black, gray, metallic silver or midnight blue. Defined by a single ray-textured edge, each dial is detailed by a raised polished matching tonal dot at 12 o’clock, a matte hour hand, and glossy minute hand.

The monochromatic tonal palette of the women’s models reflect a clean, elegant modernity. The 34mm polished case in stainless steel, or steel with a polished yellow gold or rose gold PVD-finish, is contrasted in texture by a sandblasted concave dial with sculpted ray-textured edge, raised polished dot and matching polished hour and minute hands. A green or red hour hand provides a bright startling contrast to the darkness of the dial.

Movado Group, Inc., divides its business into two geographic locations: the United States operations and International. Its portfolio of brands includes Coach Watches, Concord, Ebel, ESQ Movado, Scuderia Ferrari Watches, HUGO BOSS Watches, Juicy Couture Watches, Lacoste Watches, Movado and Tommy Hilfiger Watches.

As of January 31, 2017, the Company’s subsidiary, Movado Retail Group, Inc., operated 40 outlet stores located in outlet centers across the United States. Movado Retail Group, Inc. sells discontinued models and factory seconds of all of the Company’s watches. The Company primarily competes with Swatch Group, Ltd.

Movado Boutiques extend the Movado brand philosophy of design innovation beyond watches to a range of products for modern living. These include the proprietary and patented 114-facet Movado DiamondTM jewelry collection, Movado’s own modern 18K gold, diamond, sterling silver and gemstone jewelry, signature pens, personal accessories, small leather goods, and unique gifts for the home, plus Movado clocks and fine Swiss Watches. There are currently 28 upscale Movado boutique stores in major markets across the United States.

Excellence in design. A dedication to Swiss craftsmanship. The quest for technological innovation. The Movado philosophy is as valid today as it was in 1881. Always in motion, Movado proudly celebrates thirteen decades of artistry and innovation in design.

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