Apart, Yves Behar and Movado have compiled a long, long list of design achievements. And now, together, they can add one more to their respective accomplishments: the Movado Edge collection.
Featuring a face with a hollowed-out cavity, textured, light-catching ridges, and the signature Movado dot, the collection serves as a reinterpretation of Nathan George Horwitt’s classic 1947 design for Movado, the Museum Dial.
We spoke with Behar about some of his thinking, and the process behind designing the Edge collection.
What goals or objectives did you have when you set out designing this watch?
There have been two directions watches go in. I’ve looked at watches for a long time, and in one direction, they tend to be designed from a very two-dimensional, graphical angle. There’s a brand signature–the typography, the graphics, the arrangement, the dial layout–it’s a very a two-dimensional exercise in detail. The other thing that I see out there are the digital watches. A shiny, craftless, black design that doesn’t let you into the watch. I wanted something much more three-dimensional.
I was looking for ways to draw people into the face of the watch to have a different approach. So we explored carving out the interior–creating a cavity from the interior, and dimensionalizing time in a way that I would say is craft-based rather than digital-based. It felt like the right approach in a time where most things are either graphical or digitally graphical.
What were some of the challenges, or hesitations, of working with a company that has a rich brand identity and design tradition?
There were certainly some challenges around making everything three-dimensional. One challenge in particular was to three-dimensionalize the Movado dot. I will add that there are no markings inside the watch–It doesn’t say Movado. It doesn’t say Swiss-made. And that is quite something for a big brand to have such confidence in the design to agree to have zero markings in it.
But the dot was something that I found important for its symbolism more than just its brand element because it symbolizes the sun at 12 o’clock. But to three-dimensionalize it, it was a challenge because we have it raised pretty far up inside the dial, and the challenge is how do the hands of the watch rotate around the big dot. So there were some mechanical engineering [discussions] back and forth to design an innovative way by which the hands can be raised further up in the face of the watch so that they clear the polished little volcano dot at 12 o’clock.
And just to continue on the dot and thinking about the passing of time–I spend quite a bit of time in nature, and I like the way light defines geography; the way light defines topography. The way it changes throughout the day was something I felt would be an interesting thing to explore.
So, for example, the 60 ridges that are all around arranged in a circular manner–because there are three-dimensional ridges and not just graphical tick marks, the watch really acquires a luminosity and it changes the way the face looks. Having the sun at 12 o’clock and having the ridges in the watch change was a perfect symbolism on how time changes, and you can observe that change simply by looking at the ridges in motion. It’s like when I see dunes or mountains or waves, you can see images of light moving across them, and that was something I was trying to recreate inside of a small crafted object.
Given that you often work on products that are much more modern or tech focused, did you have to change your approach at all for this project?
Well, I’ve designed a couple of watches before a long time ago, and I’ve designed furniture, which doesn’t have technology per se in it, but you can’t really design things today without them falling in the entire context of how we live today and what we think about. And whether this watch has electronics in it or not, I still think not everything we have on us, in us, around us, absolutely needs to be directly electronically or technologically influenced.
There’s something very clear to me, that, when some new technology comes out, we say that’s the end of what was there before it. But there’s so much room for objects that are beautifully crafted, and that tap into people’s emotions. I think those are the two things we tried to do with this project.
Given the Bauhaus tradition of Movado, were there any Bauhaus designers you looked to while designing this watch?
Honestly, not really. I don’t look at other designs or designers as we make something. But looking at the history of the company and in their archives is super interesting. It’s the same at Herman Miller, where I spend a lot of time in the archives. But I think the Horwitt design is what has carried the Movado history and recognition for so long. It’s certainly something I simply admire. I would love to have a conversation with them about how someone comes up with such a strong statement at a time when modernism hasn’t really reached the rest. So there are things to be inspired by from an archival standpoint, but we end up drawing everything up on paper and starting from scratch.
Personally speaking, what’s your single favorite feature from the watch?
As I’ve got an early production model here, I think what I love about the watch is that inner curved dish with the ridges. As I look at the time, as I look at the face, I can see the light bouncing across the ridges in different ways; I can see the sides of the watch being lit. It also sometimes–in the evening, or when the environment is dark–catches every element of luminosity. This is due to the machined aluminum that we used on the inner side. It has this low-sheen reflectivity that catches my attention. It worked in production like it worked in the early prototypes, which is nice to see.
Offered in 34mm and 42mm sizes and a variety of finishes, the Movado Edge collection ranges in price from $500 to $1,200. You can find more details here.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the watch had 16 ridges.