While the aesthetic in Europe was clearly Germanic, with an emphasis on the function of accurately telling the time, a very different take on minimal watchmaking was taking shape across the Atlantic. In 1947 Nathan George Horwitt, an American industrial designer, created his interpretation of the design movement of the day when he sketched the layout that is now synonymous with Movado. His design, completely devoid of any hour or minute markers, took the minimal aesthetic right to its limits. The dial, pitch black, had an almost enamel-like quality to it. It wore a silver dot at 12 o’ clock, the only overt design element on the watch face, which symbolised the sun at high noon. The hands were long and thin, not unlike the ones on Bauhaus-inspired watches coming out of Europe.
While the design is today viewed as a milestone, straddling the worlds of horology and art, not many brands Horwitt presented it to at the time considered it suited to watchmaking. While Zenith Movado is believed to have produced the first watches inspired by his designs, initially it was not with the designer’s permission. This even resulted in a lawsuit that the two parties finally settled in 1975. However, it was only in 1959 that Horwitt was finally able to commission Vacheron & Constantin-LeCoultre, the American entity that was set up to import the two Swiss brands’ watches into the country, to produce three examples of his design. Horwitt kept one for himself, while the other two went to two museums in New York – the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. This earned the watch design its “Museum Watch” moniker, which stuck.