The 1990s came and went without my ever being able to experience a Movado Museum Dial timepiece on my wrist during the height of its popularity. Granted, I was a bit young to be wearing “adult” watches, but I have many distinct memories of relatives and other legions of adults who wore the extremely popular Movado Museum Dial watch that seemed to help define the era’s style landscape. Today, nearly 20 years after the end of the 1990s, the Movado Museum Dial watch is still produced in various forms, including this ritzier “Red Label” version that is Swiss-made and has an automatic mechanical movement inside of it. Let’s take a look at this modern take on the Museum Dial in the Movado Red Label reference 0607008 model in this aBlogtoWatch review.
What surprised me about the Museum Dial design today is how polarizing it is. Regardless of past popularity, many contemporary watch collectors aren’t interested in this aesthetic or flat-out don’t like it. I asked myself why this might be and appreciated the idea that familiarity breeds acceptance… and because not too as many people today have a Museum Dial on their wrist, collectors simply aren’t thinking about the design. The core Museum Dial design originated in 1947 and was created the by American designer Nathan George Horwitt. I discussed the interesting history of the Museum Dial watch on aBlogtoWatch.
Horwitt’s design was actually for a wall clock, but he did produce some wristwatch versions of the aesthetic. Born of a Bauhaus age in which design and aesthetics were being rendered for mainstream production, the simple dial was nevertheless full of meaning. For Horwitt, the single dot at the 12 o’clock position was meant to represent the sun. The hands show the time with the 12 o’clock hour indicator always being there to help orient the dial. Granted the Museum Dial is NOT a watch for those who need to know the time precise to the minute. You can more or less guesstimate the right time to within a few minutes of accuracy. Then again, your mobile phone is probably not too far away. I actually recall in the 1990s, as a child, admiring the attractive look of the watch by really wondering if adults were able to read the dial with more precision than I could. Turns out they couldn’t, and it was unfair to compare the analog Museum Dial watch to the digital G-Shock on my wrist at the time.
What the Museum Dial lacks in precision, it makes up for with aesthetics, in my opinion. This Red Label watch is like a larger mechanical version of many of the Museum Dial watches I liked in the 1990s. Movado adds some red-colored text at the bottom of the dial, which is how to identify these higher-end “Red Label” models. In person, the text is a bit less prominent than it appears in Movado’s product marketing shots.
Dauphine style hands in a yellow-gold tone are paired with a slightly concave polished 12 o’clock hour marker that adds a welcome sense of depth to the dial. Otherwise, we have an elegant black face and the relaxed minimalism the Museum Dial is known for.
At 42mm-wide in steel with a Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, this is the Museum Dial watch for today’s tastes. I especially like this two-tone reference 0607008, but Movado also produces an all-steel-tone version of the same watch as the reference 0606115. What I like about the two-tone model (PVD-coated steel for the yellow gold-tone) is the dial and bezel because I have always felt the Movado Museum Dial always looked better in gold-tone versus steel-tone (though that is just a personal preference).
No matter how you feel about the design of the Museum Dial, the Movado Red Label is a well-made and comfortable watch. Movado, as a company, has struggled a bit to keep up with the changing face of wristwatch distribution and sales, but they still know how to make a really nice watch when they want to. The Red Label is also surprisingly comfortable and is made very much in the vein of men’s functional jewelry, as opposed to a tool watch. Perhaps that is the best way to approach and appreciate something like a Movado Museum Dial watch: to consider it as men’s functional jewelry.
The 42mm-wide case (water-resistant to 30 meters and capped with a flat sapphire crystal) is only about 9mm-thick with a roughly 48mm lug-to-lug distance. The lugs really wrap around your wrist, making for a really comfortable wearing experience. Many of the historic Movado Museum watches I recall were put on simple leather straps, but my favorite ones came on bracelets. Here we have the Red Label paired with a substantial feeling 22mm-wide seven-link steel bracelet with matching two-tone links. The bracelet closes with a nicely made butterfly-style clasp and, through the rear of the case, you can see a view of the automatic movement. The bracelet itself is made of high-quality polished steel, and I really like how it feels (and looks) on the wrist. The small curved links mimic the look of the lugs and offer a soft, non-sharp surface for your skin to move up against.
Movado usess the fancier elaboré-grade movements, which are nicely decorated and have a customized Movado “red M” automatic rotor. The movement operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. Use of an automatic movement is really about appealing to watch enthusiasts like me. Given than the dial only has an hour and minute hand, you don’t even see a running seconds indicator. So the value of having an automatic movement is very much with the wearer — but that is, by no means, uncommon when it comes to timepiece-enthusiast-grade products.
Wearing this automatic movement-based 42mm-wide two-tone Movado Red Label watch very much feels like the Museum Dial of yesterday in a package that I want to wear today. If I try to compare it with the tool watches I typically prefer, then I will have an awkward time evaluating the value of a watch like this. What I do is consider the timeless aesthetic value of the Museum Dial, whose visual appeal continues to intrigue me (and probably others). As a sophisticated fashion watch, expressive formal watch, or as a men’s jewelry watch, the Movado Museum Dial satisfies in a way unlike pretty much anything else. In a time when “minimalist” watches are still very much in vogue, it might be time to consider one of the “originals.” Retail price for the Movado Red Label 0607008 watch is $1,895 USD. Learn more or order at the Movado website here.
>Model: Red Label “Museum Dial” (reference 0607008 as tested)
>Price: $1,895 USD
>Size: 42mm-wide, about 9mm-thick, and about 48mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When wanting to attract a bit of attention to my wrist with a generalized audience as a formal or dressier watch.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A man who likes the idea of wearing a well-made piece of horological art on the wrist as a piece of functional men’s jewelry.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent mixture of quality and components for the price. Feels very much like a modern version of a classic for today’s tastes and expectations. Comfortable to wear on the wrist all day long.
>Worst characteristic of watch: A might more AR-coated on the inside of the sapphire crystal would have reduced some glare. Core Museum Dial look is less common today and doesn’t have the consumer acceptance it once had as a design icon.