Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The man behind the Movado's Museum Watch.
Perhaps the most recognizable watch today is the Movado Museum Watch. Clearly identifiable, even from quite a distance away, is the large dot at the 12 'o'clock position symbolizing the sun at "high noon". The watch is genius in its simplicity, and timeless in design.
This watch is the brain child of Nathan George Horwitt. Born in Russia, he came to the United States as a young boy. He attended City College and NYU; he then studied at the Art Students League of New York.
Nathan George Horwitt served in the army in World War I, returning home, he joined E.R Squibb & Company as an advertising copywriter. Eventually he became the director of advertising. Nathan was becoming antsy,he felt the world was lagging behind in innovations and fresh ideas.
"Even in a Depression, we need to know the time in newer more innovative ways," he thought.
In the 1920's Nathan was brimming with ideas, and thus opened a company in Manhattan called Design Engineers. He would patent an idea and sell it to a manufacture. Only just managing to get by, he closed the company after just three years. However, Nathan creative mind could not squash the flow of idea's. Consequently in the 1930's he patented idea after idea,18 in all ,many of which were watch related.
Nathan had one basic idea. If he wanted to know the time, he did not wish to stop and study his watch cluttered with Roman Numerals, and an insistent second hand. Nathan admitted he did not have to keep track of the seconds, but rather wanted a watch that could tell the time with a quick glance. In addition, he wanted a watch that would please him with a simple elegant beauty.
Nathan first designed the "jump clock", and Cyclometer, the latter having a construction which allows the hour numerals to be large in relation to the size of the clock. Both patented around 1936, were highly praised by authorities in the field of time pieces; however, these clocks never made it into the manufacturing stage as this would require complete retooling of the existing machinery. No one at this stage would take the chance.
Thus, during the next 20 years, Nathan's patented brilliant, innovative ideas struggled to take hold.
In 1954 Nathan entered his latest innovative idea as "the dot at the top" watch. Initially the watch was rejected by the patenting office, stating that the dial of this watch was not an innovative idea and thus could not be patented. Nathan did not give up, backed by a multitude of personalities in the design, he pushed forward.
Edward Steichen, an expert on design as the Director of Photography in the Museum of Modern Art said at the time ..." I believe that your design for the face of a watch is the only really original and beautiful design I have ever seen..."
Nathan received his patent, but still struggled to find a company who would take the risk of producing a watch with a modern, cutting- design. Nearing the end of 1960, Movado, a Watch Company formed in 1881 by 19 year old, Achille Ditesheim, recognized the design as an icon of modernization and decided to add "the Museum Watch" to its collection.
In 1960 Nathan's "dot-at-the-top" Watch Dial became part of a permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. It was the first Watch Dial to be awarded this distinction. Thus the "dot-at-the-top Watch became known as the "Museum Watch".
Nathan Horwitt was indeed ahead of his time. His "Museum Watch" is still highly popular, stunningly simple, and aesthetically beautiful.
Nathan Horwitt died in 1990, at the age of 92