By the Light of the Moon Phase Watch

Since tonight it is going to be a full moon, what better moment to dedicate a post to moon phase complications. 

The orb of the moon has enchanted humankind since we gazed up into the night sky and saw its glowing face. The brightest object in the sky after the sun, the moon is not actually self-lit. Its bright presence is the result of reflecting the sun’s light. The moon rotates in synchronicity with the Earth in a regular cycle called phases, influencing everything from language and calendars to art and mythology. More than just an astronomic timekeeper, the moon’s pull also creates ocean tides and an incremental lengthening of the day.

Beyond the moon’s scientific characteristics, it remains mysterious and inspires a rich symbolism, including: life, death and rebirth, and maiden, mother and crone. Some even believe a full moon causes people to succumb to lunacy.

Though the moon phase complication is more whimsical than practical, you can see why it is so popular and lots of brands are moved to capture it on the dial. Here is a small sampling of how the moon holds sway.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

One of Vacheron Constantin’s signatures, the hand engraved gold moon phase gives a bespoke touch to the perpetual calendar watches it graces. First introduced in 2000 in the hand wind Malte collection, it is used in the Tour de l’ile mega complication and now in the Patrimony collection. Each moon possesses its own unique expression.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

Sarpaneva Korona Moonshine

Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva is definitely affected by the moody and dark landscape of his country. His work is easily recognizable not only by the space-aged shaped Korona case, but also the distinctive moon that always creates a sense of foreboding. In the Moonshine, the golden orb, made of oxidized sterling silver or 18K gold, peers out from a skeletonized dial, expressing despondency tinged with madness.

Sarpaneva Korona Moonshine

Patek Philippe Ref. 5396/1R

Patek Philippe nailed the annual calendar with this practical and easy-to-decipher layout featuring the day and month apertures under the signature at 12 o’clock with the date, month and moon phase combined in a complementary circular indication at 6 o’clock. What makes this moon noteworthy is not its depiction but its contribution to the overall pleasing aesthetics of the dial.

Patek Philippe Reference 5396/1R

Rolex 6062

Last year Rolex released the Sky-Dweller, its first annual calendar in over 50 years. But, this annual calendar didn’t have a moon phase. Once upon a time Rolex  made Reference 6062, an automatic triple date moon phase watch coveted by collectors for its rarity, beauty and complexity. In a water-resistant Oyster case, the 6062 has a screw back and also the distinction of the being the first Rolex fitted with the Super-Oyster crown. Some say this is the most important Oyster model ever produced. There is also a non-Oyster cased version. Reference 8171, nicknamed “Padellone” or “Big Pan” due to its shape, is also recognizable by its snap on back.

Rolex 6062

DeBethune DB 16 Tourbillon Regulator

DeBethune is an interesting company for a lot of reasons. A true independent and manufacture, they are on the forefront of technology and hold many patents. The DB16, a perpetual calendar tourbillon with dead-beat seconds, features the lightest and fastest tourbillon on the market. But we’re talking about moon phases and DeBethune offers a patented 3D beauty. Composed of platinum and flamed-blue steel to represent full and new moon, it resides in a flamed-blue starry sky studded with real gold stars at the prominent 12 o’clock position.

DeBethune DB16


There are lots of options to consider in the moon phase complication. On your  search, there’s sure to be one that suits your particular phase.

Categories De Bethune, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Vacheron Constantin Tags , Bookmark