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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nathan George Horwitt

Nathan George Horwitt (1898-1990) was an American industrial designer. He was born in Russia and immigrated as a child to the United States. Later, he attended the Art Students League in New York.

Horwitt served in the U. S. Army during World War I. Upon returning, he worked in advertising, but in the late 1920s, he started the firm Design Engineers.

In 1930 he designed the Beta chair, which was produced by the Howell Manufacturing Company. He displayed the chair at the Brooklyn Museum in 1931 and at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1934.

In 1947 he designed a wristwatch with a round, black face. It had no numerals, symbols or lines marking hours or minutes, only a single gold dot at the 12 o'clock position. The watch was produced by Vacheron G. Constantin-LeCoultre Watches, Inc., who gave Horwitt credit as the designer.

In 1948, in a clear act of design piracy, Zenith Movado copied the design without giving any credit or compensation to Horwitt. It took 27 years before the company settled with Horwitt, giving him $29,000 in 1975.

In the meantime, the watch was included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1960 and became known as the Museum Watch. In 1969, the design was produced by Howard Miller Clock Copany with Horwitt's permission.

From (Excerpted from Designers of the Machine Age by Carroll Gantz, to be published by McFarland & Company, Inc. in 2014)

Beta chair

Horwitt watch
produced by Vacheron G. Constantin-LeCoultre Watches, Inc.

Just yesterday, I had the winning eBay bid on this desk version of the Museum Clock by Howard Miller. I'm really pleased with the purchase and can't wait till it arrives and takes its place on the credenza in my living room.

Howard Miller Museum Clock, desk version - yesums

Howard Miller Museum Clock, desk version - yesums


  1. Replies
    1. I've been looking for a vintage desk clock for quite some time, and in addition to finding the design of this one beautiful, I also find its history compelling.

  2. Minimalist! Did not know about the history of the watch.