I always take note—usually without comment—which watches people are wearing, but I thought I’d take advantage of this captive audience of one to ask a couple of questions about his choice of timepiece.
He told me he was first attracted to the watch because of its modern look, and design is important to him in a timepiece, as is the emotion it elicits.
“I have to feel it before I buy it,” he said. Not wishing to wear out my welcome before takeoff, I framed my final question and asked about his other watches. Yes, there are others, he revealed. But the Museum Sport is his favorite for travel, since it works for every occasion.
“It’s striking without being overdone,” were his exact words. And that, in a nutshell, is just what Movado set out to accomplish since its earliest days: to create inspired timepieces that captivate with style rather than brawn, emotion rather than promotion.
“I think it all starts out with great image and DNA,” says Chairman and CEO of the Movado Group Efraim Grinberg, son of Movado Group founder Gedalio Grinberg. Efraim joined the company in 1980 and became Chairman of the Board in 2009. He explains Movado’s secret to remaining relevant in today’s ever-changing watch world: “It comes down to the product you develop, as well as staying true to the brand identity.”
While the company was founded in 1881, the Movado brand identity to which Grinberg refers began life at the end of nineteenth century Switzerland and is tethered to its very name, bestowed in 1905. Movado, in the “world language” of Esperanto, means “always in motion,” and in fairly short order the company began offering the Polyplan, a patented multi-level movement that fit into an elongated, curved case. The company’s military watches are among the finest made for soldiers during World War I, while following the war the Movado Ermeto was among the brand’s most popular models.
Ermeto was a rectangular-cased design that was probably Movado’s best known design at the time. The owner would keep the Ermeto in a pocket or purse and open a two-sided sliding case to check the time, and, in subsequent years, to wind the watch.
But it was 1947 that proved to be the watershed year for Movado, though the true effect of Nathan George Horwitt’s design that year of a black watch dial with no ornamentation save a single dot at 12 o’clock wouldn’t truly be known until several years later. By 1960, when Movado acquired Horwitt’s concept, it had just been accepted for the Design Collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.
This marked the birth of the Movado Museum Watch.
“We’ve always been good at design and product development,” says Grinberg of the ensuing years, which included many other stellar firsts. “But we’ve become much more strategic. We do a lot more research and use consumer insights for our creative development,” he says of recent history.
Grinberg also believes it’s important to maintain limited, high-quality distribution and to communicate with consumers who, in Movado’s case, fall into two distinct categories: the loyalists who appreciate the classics, and “a little edgier group” who are more willing to follow the brand into new creative territory.
“Over the last few years we’ve increased the ante from a design perspective—like the Movado Bold—with new innovation in design and materials,” he shares.
This year’s introductions are indeed innovative, offering a variety of watches that stretch boundaries while maintaining Movado’s ethos. The new Red Label automatic 42 mm Skymap features the constellations of Switzerland’s summer sky on the dial, set aglow with SuperLuminova. Available in polished stainless steel or black PVD-finished steel, the watch is powered by a Sellita SW300 movement with a Dubois-Depraz moon phase complication and the signature red Movado “M” rotor.
The black dial is a limited production and there’s also a special edition dial in blue or gray; each has a moon phase indicator at 10 o’clock and a date subdial at 6 o’clock. Alligator straps in glossy black and matte blue or gray match the respective dials.
First launched in 2010, the Verto is a contemporary bracelet watch for men, and this year, the original Museum dial model is supplemented with a streamlined chronograph version in stainless steel or black PVD-finished steel. The matte black dial has a small seconds subdial with date display at 6 o’clock and three retrograde chronograph counters with white indices. The 42 mm quartz-driven watch has a matching bracelet with a deployant clasp.
While the Series 800 has been around for a while, this year’s additions bring new excitement to the line. Two new 42 mm steel sport models with black dials and bright cobalt blue or orange accent colors spice things up. Each has a unidirectional rotating bezel, two stopwatch pushers and a screw-down crown, and the black dial has colorful timing hands and counter rings with matching accents on the black minute reflector ring. The watches come on textured black rubber straps and are water resistant to 20 ATM.
The Bold collection, as its name attests, is a new perspective for Movado. Introduced in 2010 and now available in about 500 of the company’s 2,500 retailer locations, the quartz watches are constructed with TR90 composite material and stainless steel. This year’s introductions include two new 42 mm metallic sheen versions, as well as two 46 mm titanium bracelet watches.
Both titanium watches feature screw-down case backs and crowns, a honeycomb grid-textured inner circle on the dial, K1 mineral crystals and H-shaped links on the bracelet. One has a sandblasted gray titanium case with a black ion-plated sport bezel, and the other has a black ion-plated titanium case with a sandblasted finish and a gray titanium sport bezel with steel-toned accents. Bold ranges in price from $350 to $850.
Another way in which Movado chooses to communicate with its consumers is in its involvement in the arts, and it has been a major supporter of the New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among many others.
“I think companies have a responsibility to give back,” says Grinberg, adding that this includes giving back to its corporate shareholders as well as the public at large. Thus Movado’s support of the arts “should enhance our image and brand equity,” he concludes.
The company hosts frequent arts events and has been doing so for decades— one of which was a recent gala for the New York City Ballet featuring the World Premiere of “Ocean’s Kingdom”, a collaboration between Paul McCartney and Ballet Master-in-Chief Peter Martins. The production marked the first time Paul McCartney wrote an original orchestral score for dance, and the production also featured costumes designed by McCartney’s daughter, fashion designer Stella McCartney.
As each new year in Movado’s history unfolds, more creativity, innovation and philanthropy will no doubt make itself known. “Always in motion” is neither a catchy marketing hook, nor is it a public description for a private ambition—it’s woven into the very fabric of this 130-year-old brand.