By  on November 16, 2005

NEW YORK — Movado is rolling out the red carpet for an expected 150 guests in the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey tonight, and has good cause to celebrate.

The brand has shut its eight-year-old space in the high-end mall and taken up residence across the hall in a new store that doubles its retail floor to 3,000 square feet, making it the brand's largest venue among its 27 U.S. boutiques.

Movado also is unveiling its first fashion collaboration, with design team Proenza Schouler, for a limited-edition version of its iconic Museum Watch.

"This is a brand that is known for its tremendous innovation in product development and design," said Efraim Grinberg, president and chief executive officer of Movado Group Inc. "This new store will tell the Movado story from A to Z."

Although Grinberg declined to reveal revenues for Movado's former Short Hills store, he said it was the top-performing location for the brand. Movado comprises the largest portion of Movado Group's yearly revenues of $418 million, he added.

Movado Group, based in Paramus, N.J., has owned the nearly 125-year-old Swiss brand since 1983. It also owns the ESQ Swiss, Ebel and Concord watch brands, and has signed licenses to design, manufacture and distribute timepieces for Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss.

"We jumped at the chance to double [the Short Hills space]," said Grinberg. "It's a major presence for Movado."

The new store, developed by New York-based Kramer Design Group, features a smooth black exterior that opens to a neutral interior in shades of black, white, pale gray and cappuccino, with subtle color accents in objects, such as vases of red, yellow and blue.

The front houses cases of leather, glass and nickel that display the brand's watches, with average retail prices of $500 to $1,500, and jewelry with designs inspired by the Museum Watch's dial, invented in 1947 by Bauhaus industrial designer Nathan George Horwitt to represent the sun at high noon.

There is a private room for customers perusing the brand's diamond items, such as 114-facet cut stones that begin retailing at $2,900.A back room designed with a wood ceiling and wall, as well as sleek leather furniture, is home to Movado's home collection of picture frames, tabletop accessories and small leather goods.

Although Movado wholesales most of its watches to better jewelers and department stores, the entire Movado range is available only at its boutiques.

"When we first purchased Movado, we thought we could be incredibly innovative with the Museum Watch, and the design philosophy of clean lines and minimalism, and because of that realization, the brand has grown tremendously," said Grinberg, adding this is the first time the firm has turned to the talent of the fashion community to create a special timepiece.

"[Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler] are two young guys who are working on the cutting edge," said Grinberg. "They create innovative designs, but ones that are wearable."

McCollough said Movado has been supportive of the Proenza Schouler brand by sponsoring its runway shows. "We've never designed a watch before and it was a new thing for us," said McCollough. "But we found it very similar to designing ready-to-wear and we put a lot of ideas that we put into our clothes into the watch."

The timepiece, which took 15 months to develop and will retail for $1,495, features a strap of trapunto-stitched satin backed with distressed leather and an oversize dial with a copper-colored face.

The pair, who set out to create a women's watch, went for an oversize design with unisex appeal.

"Lazaro and I love the idea of a men's-size-looking watch on a woman and the idea of wearing it loosely on the wrist," said McCollough.

After the unveiling tonight, Movado is taking advance orders for the Proenza Schouler timepiece, of which only 200 will be produced. Depending on availability, the watch will roll out to other Movado boutiques beginning in January.

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