Celebrating the timeless allure of the moon-phase complication
The moon has inspired artists and artisans for countless generations, and those plying their crafts in haute horology are no exception. Indeed, the first watch mechanism that tracked the changing lunar phases was introduced by Patek Philippe nearly a century ago, in 1925, with Rolex following suit in 1949 with the Reference 8171.
For the uninitiated, a moon-phase complication precisely tracks a lunar cycle from new moon to new moon – a period of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and three seconds. Watchmakers display each phase through a rotating disk that displays the illumination of the moon as it appears from Earth in real time. We highlight seven standouts that showcase this mesmerising lunar-tracking complication.
Breguet Reine de Naples 8905
First to the table is the femme-focused Reine de Naples 8905 from Breguet, which features an unusual oval-shaped 18K-white-gold case neatly ringed with a diamond-studded bezel. Its luminous white mother-of-pearl dial features an hours-and-minutes subdial at six o’clock, while the moon-phase indicator graces the top of its oblong fascia. A red leather strap completes the chic appeal of a release limited to just 28 pieces.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-vous Dazzling Moon Lazura
Next up is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Rendez-vous Dazzling Moon Lazura, replete with a stunning blue lapis lazuli dial that perfectly captures the hue of a clear night sky. The mother-of-pearl moon rotates through an aperture at six o’clock, which is further encircled by a star chart that underscores the model’s lunar inspirations. Powered by a self-winding Manufacture Calibre 935 movement, the large moon-phase indicator need not be adjusted for 972 years – a true haute-horological feat.
Montblanc Star Legacy Moonphase
Adopting a subtler colour scheme is Montblanc’s Star Legacy Moonphase, whose 42mm-stainless-steel case not only displays the phases of the moon, but also the day and date. Interestingly, its Breguet-style Arabic numerals – reminiscent of the brand’s historic Minerva pocket watches – have been lined with a unique railway minute track that signals the seconds via a red-tipped hand.
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Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface
Much lauded for the myriad complications that grace its precision-engineered designs, Vacheron Constantin has unveiled the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface. Here, the open-worked dial is not only punctuated with a moon-phase indicator, but also tracks the day, date and month. Encased in either 18K 5N pink gold or 18K white gold, and visible beneath the various displays, is the impressive Calibre 2460 QCL/2 movement, which develops a 40-hour power reserve.
Hermès Slim d’Hermès Squelette Lune
Hermès’ new Slim d’Hermès Squelette Lune – which, as its name suggests, offers a super slim design – similarly utilisies a skeletonised design. Powered by the self-winding Hermès H1953 Manufacture movement, its moon-phase indicator at six o’clock displays not one, but two oscillating moons. Crafted from ultra-lightweight titanium and boasting an airy architecture with contrasting matte and gloss finishes, it encompasses an almost industrial aesthetic.
Ulysse Nardin Blast Moonstruck
Elsewhere, embracing an all-black look is the Blast Moonstruck from Ulysse Nardin. The star turn here is undoubtedly the Moonstruck, an astronomical complication which not only follows the lunar cycle but also tracks the sun’s visible trajectory across a representation of Earth that forms the centre of its mineral-black dial. This geocentric design also features a dual-time mechanism. Crafted from black ceramic and black DLC-treated titanium, this 45mm creation can be paired with a choice of alligator leather, velvet or rubber strap in, yes, black.
De Bethune DB25 GMT Starry Varius
Taking the final spot in our round-up of standout moon phase-fronted designs is De Bethune’s avant-garde DB25 GMT Starry Varius. Eschewing typical dual-time dial layouts, this GMT watch measures the home time, local time – which can be set at the crown in both directions – and date through three concentric rings of differing depths. The ring closest to the hour markers indicates the home time, with day/night hours burnished in gold and black respectively.
Interestingly, rather than giving the moon-phase indicator its own subdial, this complication takes the form of a microsphere that indicates time in the centre circle. An impressive technical feat, the 3D revolving moon is something of a signature for the brand, as well as a highly innovative reimagining of this beloved complication classic.
(Text: Tenzing Thoundup)