Regular readers of my posts know that I’m a sucker for Omega’s Speedmaster Professional, a.k.a the “Moonwatch.” Today’s post, however, concerns a different type of “moonwatch,” namely the type with a moon-phase indicator.
Yes, the moon-phase is a complication that I find totally useless, from a practical standpoint. However, from an aesthetic standpoint, it is also one of the nicest complications a wristwatch can have, in my humble opinion. I might even prefer it to an openworked dial with a view of a tourbillon cage, though I realize I might be alone in this.
A moon-phase complication simply brings a watch’s dial to life. The (usually) blue or black disks, with an elegant gold moon on them, are just awesome to glance at every now and then, especially when the sunlight catches them as you’re driving your car or sitting in your living room.
There are a lot of watches with moon-phase indicators out there, ranging from fairly cheap to only affordable by a privileged few. As complications go, it is accessible to a wider range of watch enthusiasts than some others. For this list, price, materials, and availability were not factors. I just picked what I liked best.
1. Arnold & Son – HM Perpetual Moon
One of the brands that surprised me the most this year was Arnold & Son, with its beautiful collection of classical-looking watches that would suit a gentleman in his seventies as well as a young executive in his thirties. The moon disk on the HM Perpetual Moon is relatively large and enables Arnold & Son to put a very large Moon on it. The moon on the moon disk is hand-engraved and made from either silver or gold, depending on the version you choose. More about this watch can be found here on Fratellowatches.
2. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar
Although this watch’s name doesn’t immediately reveal the presence of a moon-phase complication, but its inclusion makes sense, since we built our calendar around the moon. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar has a beautiful moon-phase indicator at 6 o’clock, one element of this timepiece’s calendar complication. The watch includes day, date and month indicators in addition to the moon-phase. It is a very flat watch, with an elegant diameter of just 39 mm. More information about the JLC Master Calendar can be found here on Fratellowatches.
3. Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726/1A
How Patek Philippe arrives at its reference numbers remains a big mystery, but one thing is certain: the Nautilus Ref. 5726/1A is an incredibly sporty moon-phase watch! Like the Jaeger-LeCoulte Master Calendar, it has day, date, and month indicators as well. Patek’s in-house Caliber 324 serves as a base movement for these extra features. This model was introduced in 2012 as an addition to Patek’s already impressive lineup of Nautilus watches. More about these Patek Philippe 5726/1A models can be found here on Fratellowatches.
4. Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase
Is this the best of both worlds — the Moonwatch with a moon-phase indication? Purist fans of the Omega Speedmaster Professional might get a bit nauseous when seeing all these variations on the original Moonwatch, but I certainly like it. The fourth subdial at 12 o’clock on the Speedmaster Professional Moonphase shows the date and moon-phase. In the past, there have been several variations on this watch (white gold, broad-arrow hands, et cetera) but this model comes closest to the original Speedmaster design, in my opinion. Click here for more on Speedmaster watches with a moon-phase.
5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire
Another Jaeger-LeCoultre? Yes. The JLC Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire is one of the nicest introductions in recent years by Jaeger-LeCoultre, in my opinion. I would need much more space to explain precisely how the watch’s “Dual-Wing” concept works, but the main thing to know is that one barrel is dedicated to precision timing while the second barrel is dedicated to the other functions on the dial. This Duomètre is a very complicated watch, able to display the moon-phase for both hemispheres. More on this JLC Duomètre à Quantième Lunaire can be found here.
Are you into moon-phase watches? What are some of your favorites? Leave your comments below!
(This article was first published in 2013, and has been updated.)
I find the moonphase complication to be infinitely more useful than the day/night or 24 hour complication that some watchmakers use in their pieces. To have an outward expression of a watchmaker’s skill in engineering something which requires an understanding of the lunar cycle needs so much more in terms of skill than putting in nonsense things as I have mentioned above.
Chopard and Ingersol moonphase
I heartily agree about preferring moon phase over skeletal watches even if their function is not useful. I just like the way they look!
Moon phases are very important in the natural world… and in pagan ages and even for contemporary people.
Try and work out when Easter Sunday falls next year without knowing when the first full moon falls after the March equinox?
So I would not like to see Moon phases referred to as a complication.
For Yoga devotees, observance of Moon phases is optional but still considered important.
See if you can track whether your energy levels feel different on or around a full moon v’s a new moon? A new moon is said to absorb energy from you whereas a full moon is said to instill energy into people… ask anyone who works the evening shift in a hospital Emergency department on full moon days to see they have any views on the matter.
Our Moon can move vast oceans in what we refer to as tides so why cant it affect human behaviour and other life forms as well?
My next watch will definitely be a moon phase watch and thank you to all concerned for the article and for the contributions and comments which have been very helpful.
I disagree: I believe the moon-phase complication plays a very useful role. It tells me when to make a reservation and Motel 6 when my girlfriend shifts moods with the onset of her monthly you-know-what.
Also, do you like me, view the omission of the Lange 1815 rattrapante as an over-sight.
I guess you easily could make a top ten with all the mentioned watches. Two of my favourites not mentioned yet are the ‘Christiaan van der Klaauw Real Moon Joure’ and the IWC Da Vinci ref. 3750.
Good idea, Django. A top 10 list.
My favorite moonphase wristwatch is the Universal Tri Compax in 18K Yellow Gold from the late Fourties. The dial on this watch is a classic which looks fantastic on the wrist.
Funny how one of the best SS panomaticlunar is not on the list, come on watch time, you can do better
Nice watches, and design is important.
Please be aware that there are simple moonphases (29 days rotation of the moonphase dial) and more complex you find mostly on Perpetual calendars. see http://www.hautehorlogerie.org/en/encyclopaedia/watches/complication-watches/d/s/moon-phase-watches/
for an explanation.
And what about the importance of the moon for all the gardeners (and vegetables fans) and foresters (and other people working with wood). The moon is so important for a lot of things hapening around us…
I guess there are plenty of them who appreciate the quality of Watch time.com ! ;-)
Thanks a lot for the information Mark!
I argee with Dave. Sarpaneva’s Black moon watch and the legend of Lilith is worth reading!
Is there any other watch showing the new moon?
Fre’de’rique Constant-slimline moonphase
Calib. FC705 In House
Love moonphases too! After a long search, where price was definitely a consideration, I settled on – a am loving! – the Junghans Ref. Nr. 027/7203.00 Meister Calendar. To me it’s the perfect balance of aesthetics and price.
The Ball moon phase where the moon has tritium tubes. No dark side on that moon! Sadly, they stopped doing it after the 1st gen.
VC 47212 :) Engraved platinum moon phase disk with date around it and a flame-blued hand, all on a grained platinum dial. *sigh*
CHRONOMASTER GRANDE DATE
This is the one i own. Be sure it’s more beautifull in reality than on the pictures.
The shinny moonphase on the ivory dial is superb….
Repairing and collecting vintage watches , I would have to add 2 classics to this list . The omega cosmic and the Movado with turtle lugs (both triple date moonphase)
How about ochundjunior Cinta Tinta?
You missed one of the best moonphase watch out there, Glashutte Original Panomatic lunar 2013, 40mm of goodness :)
I do not like moon phases in sport watches, like the omega speedmaster or the patek Nautilus.
The Jaeger Lecoultres look good though, and I am a proud owner of a predecessor of the master calendar, of the forties, with tear drop lugs, in pink gold, on a red/ brownish alligator strap, which looks even better on my daughter’ s wrist. These time pieces have as their siblings from V&C, come down, pricewise, considerably, and are, if in good shape, real bargains.
Should, however, the moon-phase Rolexes, the stellines or the padellones, become affordable again, they would be, either one, my ultimate dream. Whic is, probably, wishful thinkimh…
I quite tend to agree with Giorgio Asti. Probably because I also share the teardrop Jaeger moon phase with him in Rose gold which is a very handsome watch unlike the sports moon phases. I would have preferred the latest annual calendar of Patek ref 5396 which is one of the most handsome Pateks to the Nautilus annual calendar. The Omega- definitely a non starter. But we are all different and I appreciate Fratello’s effort to line up interesting watches. I liked the JLC Duo metre lunaire though. I also love the Breguets with the moon phase.
The Omega should not be on the list. My vote would be for the GO panomatic Lunar XL. I am biased because I own one and it is beautiful. It is a discontinued model with a white gold case and rose gold applied numerals as well as a rose gold moon and stars against a blue background. It is much more attractive than the Omega, the JLC master calendar, the Nautilus. We all have our own opinions and biases and this happens to be mine.
Enjoying the Glashütte Senator Navigator Perpetual Calendar on the new moon.
For me it’s the Patek Sky-Moon Tourbillion ref# 5000 799. The intricate engraving of the case is simply beautiful! If I just had the money to own one….
Of course this is the ultimate moon phase. Very expensive and difficult to get. Impossible to get in a retail store. A brand new one available from Patek directly after an interview and several years of waiting.
Hmmmm… not too cheap?
Three watches come to mind not on the list:
1) Ochs und Junior has a fantastic interpretation that looks nothing like the above watches. More impressively it only uses five components and is far more accurate than most other moonphase complications.
2). Glashutte Original’s Senator Panoramic Lunar is a gorgeous watch that is both traditional and modern at the same time. I prefer the older versions with the baton markers.
3) I just wish I had enough money Joe the Jaquet Droz moonphase. I love the idea of the mechanical shadow moving in front of the moon instead of the moon moving against a curved cutout.
I didn’t know Jaquet Droz moonphase watch. Great idea, indeed!
Sarpaneva moon watches are cool.
How fitting an article on a date of a new moon! Great subject.