3 Vintage Watches Illustrate Movado’s Overlooked History

April 12, 2019 Watches By Photo by Analog / Shift
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Movado has had a long and tangled history since its 1881 founding in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. From that time, the company has gone through changes of name, ownership, and image, as well as having produced a wide range of watches — some of which will surprise those familiar only with the budget-range fashion watches produced under the Movado Group today. Movado watches from the early and mid 20th century were often beautiful, contained in-house-designed and -manufactured mechanical movements (unlike many of its contemporaries), and contributed significantly to the watch industry alongside other respected and prestigious brands of the time.

Like many watch makers (that survived), the pre-Quartz Crisis Movado looked very different from what followed. Acquired by North American Watch Corp in 1983, Movado became its flagship brand resulting in the parent company’s name change to today’s Movado Group which owns several watch companies as well as licensing a collection of brands that produce inexpensive watches as fashion accessories. Modern Movado’s image and success are largely built around the famous Museum Dial watch.

Watches from Movado’s glory days, however, are not hard to find on the vintage market now, and they can offer satisfying quality and value. Below, you’ll find three disparate examples which show some of the interesting background to the Movado name, and they will hopefully inspire you to explore the brand’s history more.

Movado Triple Calendar

What We Like: Calendar watches like the Calendomatic, Calendograph, and Calendoplan were some of Movado’s most important models. This example, first of all, is beautiful with its Breguet numerals, but it also contains an in-house automatic movement which provides for month and day-of-the-week displays and the date indicated by a centrally mounted pointer. It measures 34mm wide, and horn lugs further add to its unique and elegant look.

From the Seller: Case is very sharp, unpolished, but still showing factory brush finishing on the lugs. Watch movement is beautiful, robust, running very strong and keeps very good time.

1940s Movado Chronometre

What We Like: This is a great example of yet another unknown facet of Movado’s personality alongside the elegant calendar watches, sporty chronographs, as well as time-only Calatrava and other simple mechanical watches one can still find on the vintage market. It contains a manually wound Movado movement shaped to fit the rectangular case. The 18k gold case measures 24mm wide by 40mm long — which are wearable dimensions for this case shape even by today’s standards — and it is subtly curved to ergonomically fit the wrist.

From the Seller: Original dial with expert restoration in excellent condition. Movement signed and in excellent condition.

Movado Datron HS360 Chronograph

What We Like: This is from the brief few years from 1969 during which Movado was owned by Zenith Watches. While Movado in-house movements are cool, a Zenith El Primero from around the time it was debuted is nothing to sneeze at, and that is what you will find inside this Movado Datron. At 38mm wide this is a classic sporty look that represents well the era of similar well-known designs from the likes of Heuer, Omega, and others.

From the Seller: The case is in excellent condition overall showing no signs of polishing, crisp bevels, and light signs of wear from age and use. Luminous black “reverse panda” dial is in great condition.

The State of the Vintage Watch Market

Six years ago, if you wanted to purchase a vintage watch, you were generally confined to the shops and dealers in your area. In the last five years, buying and selling vintage watches online has progressed light years. Read the Story

Zen Love

Zen Love is Gear Patrol’s watch writer. He avoids the snooty side of the watch world, and seeks out food in NYC that resembles what he loved while living in Asia for over a decade.

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