Put simply, vintage Movado has finally received the spotlight it deserves. The modern-day mall brand’s much superior vintage offerings have had their ups and downs with collectors in the past few decades but have seemingly found level. Even fans today might not know that back in the late 1990s, major auction house catalogs were littered with vintage Movado, sometimes at higher estimates that would relatively blow our minds. One October 1999 Sotheby’s sale offered a polished but original yellow-gold Movado M95 Sub-Sea in lot 216 with an estimate of $3-3.5k; in lot 106 was, offered together, a matte “Meters First” dial 5513 Submariner and a 1970 Omega Speedmaster, all for an estimate of $2-2.5k. Sure, other variables are at play here, namely sport models not being in vogue at the time. What collectors at that time seemed to value given auction curation and results was quality above all else, Patek, Cartier, Audemars, and Vacheron ruled the day. Along with Movado, whose quality was recognized and rewarded by the same collectors.
Movado dates back to 1881 and was founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Its history is similar to a lot of Swiss watch brands in having a period of quality, then an acquisition around the quartz crisis, and lastly being a part of a larger group of brands into the 21st century. Early Movado is where most attention is drawn to, specifically the 1930s to 1960s, where the brand produced highly finished wristwatches with in-house and technically fantastic movements. In 1969, Movado joined forces with Zenith and Mondia creating, you guessed it, Movado-Zenith-Mondia. For Movado branded watches, the new group meant mainly Zenith movements, which are nothing to scoff at including the El Primero, replacing their own. Later in the 80s, Movado themselves spawned a conglomeration under the name North American Wacth Corp and later Movado Group Inc, which operates out of the US and recently acquired MVMT—a brand we hope to never feature.
For auction today is a Movado Datron HS360 dating to the early 1970s following the Movado-Zenith-Mondia alliance of 1969. Look no further than the movement inside to understand the might of this triumvirate, the Zenith manufactured and signed El Primero caliber 3019 is the star of any watch it powers. While by this point Movado’s best years were in the rear view, the brand is lucky to have offered a watch with an El Primero inside as a piece of horological and brand history. Originally called the Datachron HS360, this model line is really the best of Movado during the early 1970s and features classic dial designs along with an extremely wearable but of the era cushion case shape.
This example is a bit of an anomaly. Early versions of these Movados did leave the factory with dials bearing the name Datachron HS360 before the name was changed after maybe a few months to Datron, but our watch does not feature either. The dial is devout of any printing other than the brand name at 12 o’clock. Given the quality, consistency, and fonts of the printing in totality, we believe this to be a rare variant rather than an issue. Studying dials on Datrons, they do have a propensity to go tropical and this one certainly has, spotting takes away a bit but is consistent across the entire dial.
Case condition of this Datron is good, showing signs of a previous polish and a life of wear. We do note that many times these cases completely lose the chamfered case edge that is still present here. No major flaws are seen such as deep scratches or dents. The caseback presents nicely with few scratches and the crown is correctly signed, it is presumed original.
The Dial and Hands
This example’s dial is walking that fine line between tropical and damaged. Ask 100 people and the split might be 50/50. The lack of a Datron nor HS 360 line of text under Movado is one of those rare features that no one knows about or pays attention to—for rare to matter there has to be desirability. This all being said, the look is striking and unlike pretty much anything else.
A warm patina has developed to all the luminous material on the watch. The hand lume is in worse shape than that of the dial with some discoloring and the smallest bit of loss in the hour hand. Lume at each hour marker on the dial is in surprisingly good condition. The handset is correct and presumed original.
The Zenith signed El Primero caliber 3019 is currently running. Service history is unknown.
|Movement||Automatic, Zenith El Primero cal. 3019|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|
|Clasp Type||Stainless Steel Buckle|