Watches: Most Poetic Moon Phase Models of 2013

By Thierry Ané on November 19, 2013

A little while ago, I presented my selection of the best watches introduced this year with what I believe to be the most useful complication of all: a triple calendarWatches: This year’s best Annual Calendar timepieces. Today I would like to do the opposite and draw your attention to the most useless complication for today’s life: the moon phase. Yet, it remains a highly-desired feature for most watch lovers.

The duration of the lunar cycle (from new moon to new moon) is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. A timepiece with a moon-phase complication will thus track the current phase of the moon in the lunar cycle, indicating if it is new, full, half or quarter moon. Although many watch enthusiasts will wonder at the technical prowess it represents what makes this complication so desirable, is mainly its intrinsic beauty.

The Earth’s only natural satellite has been the subject of many works of art and literature and the inspiration of countless others. If our modern lives are strongly disconnected from the phases of the moon, our senses are aroused as we gaze at its celestial mystery and serene beauty. The periods of its waxing and waning have formed the basis of many of the oldest calendars and celestial mechanics have been a major scientific quest for centuries. There is something primal about knowing that your watch is able to display the cycles of this constant source of fascination and inspiration for mankind.

If these are indeed our motivations for the presence of a moon phase indicator on a modern timepiece, chances are we will favour the models with a display that is original, mysterious and poetic… very much like the moon itself. Below is a selection of some of this year’s best examples of what the watch industry has to offer in that department.

Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon

Visible through a large aperture from 10 to 2 o’clock on a cream-coloured dial, the very large golden moon with extremely realistic craters seems to float among the golden stars on a guilloché disc covered with translucent blue lacquer to symbolize the sky. Powered by the manual winding A&S1512 in-house calibre, the Perpetual Moon by Arnold & Son is a very poetic interpretation of the moon phase complication. Housed in a 42 mm rose gold case this timepieces is attached to the wrist by a brown alligator strap secured with a rose gold pin buckle.

Find out more about the Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon Red Gold

De Bethune DB28 Skybridge

The 3-dimensional spherical moon phase is one of De Bethune’s well-known trademarks. In the DB28 Skybridge interpretation this unique moon-phase display is accentuated by an arrow-shaped bridge that appears to be pointing towards infinity. In mirror-polished and blued titanium the dial is covered with white gold and diamond stars. De Bethune mechanical hand-wound calibre DB2105 is housed in the brand’s signature tambour-shape case (this time in titanium) and offers an impressive 6-day power reserve.

Find out more about the De Bethune DB28 Skybridge Titanium

Graham London Geo.Graham The Moon Sapphires

Graham’s celestial manual flying Tourbillon, called “Geo.Graham The Moon”, features a perpetual moon retrograde function but let’s be honest: it is not for its outstanding technical specificities but for its stunning beauty that we are drawn to this exceptional timepiece. Blue and with covered with a constellation of 45 diamonds the dial, which also features an extremely realistic hand-painted moon of generous proportion, is enhanced by the bezel set with baguette-cut sapphires with an extremely vivid blue colour.

Find out more about the Graham 1695 Geo.Graham The Moon Sapphires Pink Gold

Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Eclipse

If a brand excels at poetic interpretations, it is definitely Jaquet Droz. The Eclipse is one of the brand’s most iconic creations. At 6 o’clock, a black onyx index moves across the face of a golden moon, revealing, and then concealing it until its total eclipse. The whole spectacle unfolds on a night sky (realised in black Grand Feu enamel) boasting eight stars, the watchmaker’s favourite number. For this new interpretation the brand added a perpetual calendar with retrograde date and day of the week. When utility meets poetry…

Find out more about the Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Eclipse Black Enamel Red Gold

Sarpaneva Korona K0 Wuoksi

When it comes to moon phase indication, Sarpaneva is THE independent watchmaker to go to. The Wuoksi features a recessed moonphase indicator. Only the moon's eyes peek through the aperture at 12 o'clock, with a ring representing the night sky rotating to cover the proper amount of the eyes to represent the moon's phase. You will be hypnotized by the penetrating stare of a pair of dull, lifeless eyes looking right back at you… So Sarpaneva! Inside ticks the reliable automatic Soprod A10 calibre modified by Stepan Sarpaneva and visible through the sapphire case back.

Find out more about the Sarpaneva Korona K0 Wuoksi Black DLC Steel

With a special mention to…

Oris ProDiver Pointer Moon

Ok, the whole point of this post was to argue that a moon phase indicator has to be beautiful and original since it is perfectly useless for us today. Well, every rule has its exception!

The tides on the Earth are mostly generated by the gradient in intensity of the Moon’s gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other. No watch on the market offered a way of indicating the tidal range, which is important for professional divers until Oris and their brand ambassador and experienced commercial diver Roman Frischknecht decided to fill this gap. The Oris ProDiver Pointer Moon indicates the tidal range and lunar cycle at a glance using a unique dial design, removing the need for divers to consult constantly external manuals.

The central hand indicating the position of the moon on its cycle is very easy to set and the only accurately readable moon phase indication that I know of. Huge congratulations to Oris for this fantastic diver watch. The second this year if you add the equally amazing Aquis Depth Gauge.

Find out more about the Oris ProDiver Pointer Moon Titanium

This little selection really shows that watchmakers can really be imaginative when they set their efforts to it. Making beautiful and original timepieces full of poetry and fun to make us dream: isn’t this the best definition of what we expect from watch manufactures?

Additional timepiece mentioned in this article: