Movado was originally founded in 1881 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, by Achilles Ditesheim. In 1983, the company was purchased by Gedalio Grinberg, a Cuban-born Jew, who fled Fidel Castro's Marxist Revolution in 1960 with his family.
His son, Efraim Grinberg, is the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Movado Group, Inc. The North American President of Movado is Alan Chinich. In 2006, Movado celebrated its 125th year of watchmaking. On February 23, 1999, Movado Group, Inc. completed the sale of Piaget business to VLG North America, Inc., for approximately $30 million.
The company is known for its iconic Museum Watch, designed by the American designer Nathan George Horwitt in 1947. It was originally manufactured by Vacheron & Constantin-Le Coultre Watches, Inc., Switzerland. Movado had started producing an unauthorized version starting in 1948, copying Horwitt's design. It was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1960. Movado finally settled with Horwitt in 1975 with a payment of $29,000. Following Horwitt's death, Movado started heavy promotion of Horwitt and the design of the Museum Watch. Photographer Edward Steichen called Horwitt's design "the only truly original and beautiful one for such an object".
Some Movado watch models have Esperanto names such as Bela ("beautiful"), Belamodo ("beautiful fashion"), Fiero ("pride"), Brila ("brilliant"), Linio ("line"), and Verto.