The new Jewelry

The Movado Group of Lyndhurst, N.J., is opening three new stores this year and plans to add four more annually for the next several years. The shops feature jewelry collections, accessories and decorative objects for the home designed exclusively for Movado, in addition to the company’s watches and a new line of clocks.

While some international jewelry and watch suppliers have their own stores and many upscale jewelers and designers have added their own watches, Movado is believed to be the first major watch brand to open its own line of jewelry retail stores.

“We’ve always imagined expanding Movado,” says Ephraim Grinberg, chief executive officer and president of The Movado Group Inc. “We have tremendous recognition – not only of our name, but also for the modern sensibility of our designs. By showcasing our new products in our own stores, we will be able to maintain total integrity.” And the move into jewelry and accessories, he says, is in keeping with Movado’s “long history of designing very special items for personal adornment.”

More than 500 products for various age groups and price levels have been created for the stores by Robert Donofrio, senior vice president for product development and merchandising, and Omar Torres, design director. Both joined Movado in early 1997 to help develop the store project. Donofrio previously was president of the U.S. operations of Italian luxury jeweler Bulgari and later a consultant in luxury merchandising. Torres, a designer for 32 years, has worked for such respected jewelry houses as Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari and is a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Revival. Movado first tried retailing in the late 1980s, when it opened a store in New York City featuring its watches and other products (including cookie jars by pop artist Andy Warhol).

“Even then,” notes Donofrio, “Movado wanted to be more than just a watch brand and had plans to expand. But strategically, the time wasn’t right.” Recession was already chilling the 1980s’ overheated retail market, and it was a time of “winding down, not up.”

The plans to go into retail were revived after the firm went public in late 1993. “We’ve asked ourselves, ‘What else can we do with the brand name?’” says Donofrio. “What are the logical [product] categories where we can gain more momentum [for it]?”

The target customers for the new stores are Movado watch clients – “people who appreciate good design at a good price, who are well-educated, culturally and socially aware, and who are not so much interested in a name as in style and function,” says Donofrio.

But while the Movado watch brand provides the entrée into retailing, the company is spotlighting more than its timepieces in the new stores. “These aren’t ‘watch shops,’ ” notes Donofrio.

To highlight the new direction, the store chain’s logo is based on a 70-year company trademark instead of Movado’s famous Museum Watch dial, with its single gold dot at 12 o’clock on a solid black dial. That dial, with its minimalist Bauhaus design, has been the dominant symbol of the company for more than three decades. (Indeed, a large, rectangular wall clock with that dial is one of the first things customers see on entering a new Movado store.) But, notes Donofrio, “We wanted a logo [for the stores] that reflects the tradition and roots of Movado, one which wasn’t tied to [the Museum Watch].”

They found it in a company trademark from the 1920s – a stylized “M” over a flat “V.” That logo is now incorporated throughout the stores’ design and flanks their entryways.

Influence. Notwithstanding the new logo, the design philosophy for Movado watches – the basics of the Movado image, as it were – did influence creation of its new products and a retail environment intended to appeal to customers in the U.S. and, eventually, worldwide.

“Our clean look and modern expressionism [seen in the company’s watch designs] are recognizable in each and every new product and in the design of our stores,” Grinberg says.

Torres agrees. “We think we did a good job of being faithful to the Museum dial look, while offering something new to people who don’t want the Museum dial look,” he says.

The challenge “wasn’t the individual designs,” he explains, “but the overall project, to come up with something that presents a new image and yet keeps the Movado style” in both the store design and its products. In the end, says Torres, the goal was achieved; “it makes sense when you see it all together in the store.”

New products created by Torres and Donofrio for Movado include:

  • Jewelry for men and women, such as rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and cufflinks, with retail prices ranging from less than $100 to more than $10,000 (for 18k, platinum and diamond items). Collections include “Ono,” featuring the Movado dot in a variety of settings; “Sfero,” an ensemble of charm bracelets, necklaces and rings that translate the Movado dot into a three-dimensional sphere; “Esperanza,” inspired by the open-link bracelet of the Movado watch with the same name; and “Continuum,” a collection of engagement rings.

  • Decorative objects for the home in silver and glass, such as vases and bowls, candlesticks, carafes and an Art Deco sterling silver, cone-shaped coffee pot. They retail from $100 to $700.

  • Personal and desk accessories like pens, clocks, cufflinks, pillboxes, magnifying glasses, key rings, money clips, ashtrays and letter openers. These retail from $100 to $495.

Stores. The stores themselves are located in upscale street or mall locations. The first – in the Northeast. Shops in The Mall in Short Hills, Short Hills, N.J., and The Westchester shopping center in White Plains, N.Y. – opened in April. A third will open in New York City’s Rockefeller Center in July (replacing the small design and repair store that Movado opened in 1987). A fourth may be introduced before year’s end on Long Island, N.Y. The first West Coast store could make its debut as early as next year.

The 1,500- to 2,000-sq.-ft. shops with walls of “bird’s eye maple” are stained in a taupe color. Metal surfaces are fashioned from satin nickel; the store’s logo is incorporated in the interior. The Movado name, carved on a limestone ledge over the entrance, is designed to look as though it is floating in front of a curved backdrop.

Movado was founded in Switzerland 117 years ago. It was purchased by The Movado Group (then North American Watch Co.) in 1983. The company went public in 1993. The firm makes and distributes Movado, Concord, VIZIO and ESQ watches and is the exclusive distributor of Piaget, Corum and Coach watches in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Its products are sold in 30 countries worldwide. (For more on the company, see “Movado Strategies,” December 1997 JCK, page 28.)