Its full moon today! The fifteenth day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Exactly 28 days to the next full moon, when the Mid Autumn Festival, a.k.a. Mooncake Festival is celebrated. So we pick 6 top moonphase watches from the last year (or so) to romance the Moon.
Throwback Sundays: Six Moonphase watches from our archives
All round town, all the hotels and bakeries have already started to promote mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival this year. The actual date, coinciding with the full moon of the eighth month will fall on September 21, exactly one moon phase cycle, or by the Chinese Lunar calendar’s reckoning, 28 days. Today, September 22 is also a full moon, as it is the 15th day of the seventh month. Our last visit to moonphase watches was in September 2020, but we thought it will be interesting to re-visit the new moonphase watches introduced since. Here is our pick for the top 6.
Though all the watches in this list have not appeared in the earlier list, not all are novelties introduced since. But this represents the Chief Editor’s current favourite monphase watches. The other significant difference is that all the watches on today’s list feature another complication in addition to the moonphase. Be it a perpetual calendar, an asymmetrical dial layout, a tourbillon, a chronograph or a 3 dimensional display. Without further ado, let’s go!
No particular order.
Introduced in December 2020, this watch is an interesting combination of two of horologically treasured complications – the moonphase display and the tourbillon with a third – the jumping date. The new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Moonphase Tourbillon is the first from the maison‘s long history with this combination of complications, and a new caliber 983 is developed for this new watch.
We found the watch to be aesthetically very pleasing. The contrasting texture of the dial, and the layout is simple, clear and legible. The tourbillon sits center stage at 6 o’clock, right below the moonphase display. And the periphery shows the jumping date. Simple. Elegant. And superb finishing that we have come to associate with JLC. And at SGD 130,000 is rather quite a lot of watch for the money.
A simpler watch next. The Hermès Arceau Grande Lune combines a full calendar with the moonphase display. Aesthetics are typical of the Hermès, which is a good thing, as the design is well thought out, and always looks very elegant. The Arceau design was first introduced in 1979 by Henri d’Origny interpreting the round watch by imagining a classic and singular curve. And this new 2020 watch with moonphase was introduced in a larger case, with a magnificent deep blue dial with a sunburst motif.
Targetted at a rather modest SGD 8,730. Hermès listed the movement as “non in-house” and most industry pundits agree that it is most likely a generic ETA or Selitta base with a calendar module, as befitting the price point. But the watch gets it right, and our vote of confidence because of its lovely aesthetics.
Next up, a statement piece from Arnold & Son. Known for their moonphase display, in particular the HM Perpetual Moon which has made its appearance on our list with its huge moonphase, the new Luna Magna also makes it claim as the largest 3 dimensional moonphase display ever made.
The watch is singular in its message. Look at the moonphase. And indeed there is much to marvel at. The display is a a huge 12mm sphere, which is made half of a white textured and mottled marble and half in aventurine. The globe emerges from the dial is a beautiful sight. The rest of the dial is in aventurine, depicting the night sky. Cased in a 44mm red gold case (wears more like it was 41mm), it retails for CHF 43,900 before taxes, and is a Limited Edition of 28 pieces only.
The first Little Lange 1 Moon Phase was introduced in 2009 in limited numbers, and then reintroduced in 2017 as regular production with silver guilloche dial and an improved calibre L121.2. The Little Lange 1 is a slightly smaller version of the regular Lange 1, measuring 1.5mm smaller in diameter. A larger than regular size Lange 1 is also available as the Grande Lange 1. All the sizes feature a model with moonphase display, but the Little 1 is the only one offered with a goldflux dial.
For 2021, A. Lange & Söhne adds 2 beautiful variants to this relatively new member of the Lange 1 family. Both are in white gold with a blue dial with gold flux. One with a bezel tastefully set with 56 brilliant-cut diamonds, and the other without. Our pick is the non-gemset version which retails for SGD 64,900.
The movement is the caliber L121.2, which like all Lange calibers are designed and manufactured in-house. Movement finishing is top level – the norm one comes to expect from Lange.
Next is Breitling’s take on the classical calendar chronograph with moon-phase. Introduced in 2021, this is a new line of chronographs by Breitling for the Premier Heritage Line, and includes this triple calendar chrono Datora with a regular chronograph and a new split seconds chrongraph.
Aesthetics are spot on, reminiscent of classical watches, and the design features rectangular chronograph pushers and Arabic numerals. The Datora is displays variety of details such as grooves on the case-sides, open sapphire casebacks and syringe hands. The Datora comes in stainless steel with a copper dial or in 18k red gold with a silver dial. Our pick is the steel / copper dial version with a retail price of SGD 16,950.
“Datora” was a term used by Breitling in the 1940s and refers to a complete calendar chronograph displaying day, date, month and moonphase.
And last on the list is by no means least. This is a watch from the glory days of Roger Dubuis. Crafted in the magnificently complicated Symphatie case, with a sapphire crystal which follows the case shape, the Symphatie Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Bi-retrograde makes quite a statement on the wrist.
The case shape is very complex, with a good mix of curves and sharp points thrown in for good measure. The lugs are long and elongated. This wonderfully shaped case also carries a front crystal which is a tracing of the same shape. We understand this is a very complex crystal to manufacture, and later versions had a round crystal. Though we had originally thought the case shape is an original design by Roger Dubuis, we found some sources showing a vintage Longines with the same case shape. We don’t really know more information of the Longines piece, other than the report linked. If you have further information on the Longines, please let us know.
But the existence of the Longines piece is in no way a put down on the RD watch. It remains a magnificent testament. The movement is the Cal. RD 5637, which is built on a base of the time tested the Lemania 2310. The bi-retrograde perpetual calendar module that was developed by Roger for Harrry Winston was used over the base. Movement finishing, especially of the early Roger Dubuis watches like this, are exceptional, rivaling Patek Philippe and other top haute horlogerie manufacturers.
The Roger Dubuis Symphatie Chronograph Perpetual Calendar Bi-Retrograde is an absolute gem. Roger Dubuis himself was probably one of the first to emerge as an independent watchmaker with his own name on the dial, and paved the way for other independents years later.
There you have it. A revisited list of watches with moonphases, but over other complications. As indicated earlier, most are novelties from late 2020 to date. But the Roger Dubuis is a vintage piece, only to be found in the secondary market as the new watches have been sold out for decades.