At the end of the 800th century, in the heart of the Swiss Jura, six artisans and a 19-year-old named Achille Ditesheim created what would become one of the most elegant watchmaking ateliers in the world.
Movado means "always on the move", in the language "Esperanto", and it is precisely in this respect that the maison has always distinguished itself in the twentieth century. The six original artisans, in fifteen years become more than eighty, the modest workshop, at the beginning of the new century was a factory equipped with electricity-powered lines.
In 1905 the company officially took the name of Movado and decided to use one of the most characteristic symbols for me in the world of watchmaking as a brand, a hand that holds, as if to show it, a pocket watch.
At first he specialized in small bracelet watches for women like most of the other manufacturers of the time. But it was in 1912 that one of the first and most important watches of this great company was born: the Polyplan. A watch that developed on 3 levels to adapt to the curved case that followed the line of the wrist.
For the time it was a real revolution considering the difficulty and particularity in designing and producing it.
In 1925 the Valentino was born in honor of Rodolfo Valentino, the Italian actor who died in 1926 at the age of thirty-one.
A year before his tragic death, Movado paid homage to him with two watches: one for the wrist and the other for a pocket. The pocket Valentino was distinguished by a truly singular feature: it had a silver case completely covered in snakeskin.
(Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
In 1926 the maison of La chaux de fonds created the Ermeto. Among the Movadoes that have made an era, it is the leader; this rectangular pocket watch, developed by Huguenin Freres of Le Locle, it was patented only in 1930. It was wound by opening and closing the two parts of a shell that housed the case with movement and dial.
Several versions were produced in precious metal or in leather, as for the movement there were with and without date and also with alarm bell and chronometer certificate.
In the 30s Movado produced chronograph movements to the fifth of a second or complete calendar. Together with Frederic Piguet, a new type of movement was developed with an additional module to the plate, to facilitate both construction and maintenance. Thus the first modular caliber was born in advance of about 40 years….
In those years the M90 and M95 calibers with 2 and 3 counters respectively were born, among the most beautiful movements ever among all the Swiss watchmaking houses. Movado may be remembered for various firsts in the field of watchmaking, but for me the aesthetics and beauty of the cases, dials and movements of these chronographs leave little room for any questionable judgment.
In the early 40s another revolutionary watch was born: the M478 simple monopusher chronograph caliber with or without second set at 6. Extremely rare to find on the market today in good condition.
After the success of the chronographs, another big push comes for Movado with the end of the Second World War: the Calendomatic. In fact, in 1945 the first automatic and Movado calendar was born.
Following the calendomatic comes the Celestograf today increasingly rare and sought after due to its peculiarity and beauty, the caliber 473 calendar and moon phases.
The Museum clock dates back to 47, which can certainly be considered the most eloquent symbol of the company to this day. It was designed by Nathan George Horwitt, an artist trained at the Bauhaus. Its stylized, frill-free dial is universally recognized as an icon of modernity.
A single dot, at 12 o'clock, as a symbol of the sun at noon, bears the rigorous and absolute purity that has made Movado not only a house of great watchmaking traditions but also one of the few - and above all of the first - capable of adopting the modern languages of art and design.
In the 60s, together with the smaller Mondia brand, Movado joined forces with Zenith; both became American acquired by Zenith Radio Corporation; (watches were produced with parts of both companies and on the market were referred to as Zenith-Movado), in 1971 Movado was hosted in the Zenith factory in LeLocle.
In 1972 the holding was acquired by a large American company, the “Zenith Radio Corporation”, in which the almost homonymy is completely coincidental. Prior to 1972, Zenith Radio paid Zenith Suisse royalties for the use of the Zenith name, despite being substantially unrelated to the watchmaking industry.
In June 1978 Zenith and Movado passed into the hands of a new Swiss owner, Dixi, a company whose main shareholders are Paul Castella and Michael J. Pannet.
Taken over in the 80s by G.Grinberg, after a period of grayness already in the MovadoZenithMondia group, it has definitively shifted its center of gravity on the commercial level.
In the mid-80s, the American group founded by Gerry Grinberg takes over the company. From that moment on, the dialogue with the art world becomes systematic. Movado presents watches designed by Andy Warhol and Rosenquist, according to a formula that has proved effective: in five years, from 1983 to 1987, Movado goes from 4 to 50 million dollars in turnover.
Today, like other Maison of ancient luster, Movado has unfortunately sank into the sea of banality, producing only pieces dedicated to the famous Museum, thus denying the ingenuity that had characterized its commercial epic for over half a century.
I hope that it will soon be able to re-present watches worthy of the name they bear and that they can return to "movement".