We live by the moon. Our earthly life is guided by it. That’s why the watchmaker religiously pays tribute to our celestial neighbor through his/her creations. Hiren Kumar Bose picks the best moon phase watches the recent edition of SIHH had to offer
A. LANGE & SÖHNE’S Lange 1 Moon Phase
Fifteen years after A. Lange & Söhne’s debuted with a model featuring the popular astronomical complication, the Lange 1 has now been endowed with a new movement as well taking a new and particularly realistic approach by combining the moon-phase display with a day/night indicator. It tracks the lunar cycle – with an average duration of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds – so accurately that it takes 122.6 years for the display to deviate from the true synodic period by just one day. A separate solid-gold moon pursues its orbit in the foreground. Behind it, a celestial disc – also made of solid gold – performs exactly one revolution every 24 hours. On the disc, the different times of day are represented by varying blue hues caused by interference effects. During the day, it shows a bright sky without stars, while at night it depicts a dark sky with prominently contrasting laser-cut stars. The now 20th Lange calibre with a moon-phase display is based on the LANGE 1 movement introduced two years ago, and it has the same performance attributes. This includes the characteristic twin mainspring barrel with a maximum power reserve of 72 hours and the precisely jumping outsize date display. The 38.5 mm Lange 1 Moon Phase also features an escapement with a cam-poised balance and a free-sprung Lange hairspring. Suspended beneath the hand-engraved balance cock, it beats with a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour. The 70 parts for the moon-phase display were so cleverly integrated into the L121.3 manufacture calibre that it is only marginally larger than the calibre L121.1 inside the Lange 1. The asymmetric solid-silver dial sets a remarkably harmonious stage for the luminous time and power-reserve indications complemented with an outsize date, the moon-phase display, and the day/night indicator. The watch is available in white gold/black, pink gold/argenté, and platinum/rhodié case/dial combinations.
CARTIER Drive de Cartier
The Drive de Cartier hours, minutes and seconds watch, the second time zone model and the flying tourbillon model have now been joined by two new models. The two newest faces in the collection have the same highly personal codes and exude the Drive de Cartier man’s love of authenticity, free spirit, and imagination. Here is all the stunning art de vivre that was showcased by Cartier at this year’s Pitti Uomo trade fair in Florence’s Palazzo Gondi. This watch is fitted with the new Manufacture movement 1904-LU MC. A distinctive moon phase complication displayed at 6 o’clock tracks the cycle of new moons, half-moons, and full moons. This extraordinarily precise complication is known as “astronomic”, needing to be corrected by one day every 125 years. With a convex curved glass case and uncluttered white guilloché dial, it is available in pink gold or steel. This timepiece lends an unaffected touch of sophistication to everyday mechanics. Less is more in the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat watch, whose slender profile hugs the wrist, ensuring a suave, discreet accessory beneath the sleeve of a dinner jacket. Minimalism is the standout feature of this watch. At less than 7 mm thick, it is 40% slimmer than the original model. Clean lines are enhanced by the sunray satin-finish dial, flat sapphire crystal, and finely crafted alligator-skin strap, which stylishly showcases the cushion-shaped case of the watch. The Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat watch is fitted with a mechanical movement with manual winding 430 MC. Available in pink gold, or in a limited edition of 200 pieces in white gold.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN Patrimony Moon Phase
With its pure lines typical of the Patrimony collection, the 42.mm watch features a dial on which the cycle and age of the moon are reproduced on a display that will require no corrections for 122 years. The Maison combines this elegant complication with a retrograde date indication, graduated from 1 to 31 across the upper dial arc. In this model, the timelessly understated round case houses an original self-winding calibre powering a high-precision moon indication combined with a retrograde date display. To ensure optimal user-friendliness, all adjustments of these functions are performed via the crown. Appearing on a pink or white gold disc depending on the version, the moon gleams brightly against a star-studded backdrop, visible through an opening in the lower half of the dial. The age of the moon – meaning the number of days that have elapsed since the last new moon – can be read off on a graduated scale around this opening. This lyrical complication is displayed with extreme accuracy in accordance with the real lunar cycle around the Earth, which lasts exactly 29 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes. The second horological complication, the retrograde date display, is a useful and elegant function that appears in the upper half of the dial. A central hand – whose colour is achieved by a black oxide process – tipped with an open-worked arrow moves forward in one-day increments. Once the month is completed, a retrograde system returns it instantly to its initial position on the 1 numeral by means of a retrograde system and begins running along the same path. The silvered opaline dial, subtly raised around the rim, features tapered applied hour-markers in pink or white gold depending on the versions, as well as a circular “pearl” minute-track. The emblematic Maltese cross on the dial, the slim hands, as well as the pin buckle of the alligator strap, are all crafted in pink or white gold according to the model. Its 40-hour power reserve drives the hours and minutes hands, the precision moon-phase display as well as the retrograde date. Its crown offers simple and smooth access to all three functions of the timepiece. In its first position, it serves to wind the watch. Once pulled out to the second notch, it can be turned clockwise to set the date or counter-clockwise to adjust the moon phase, while the third and last position controls time-setting. A transparent sapphire crystal reveals the 2460 R31Lmovement and its 22-ct gold oscillating weight, adorned with Vacheron Constantin’s signature Maltese cross motif.
IWC Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36
With a diameter of 36 mm, a moon phase complication, a semicircular crown and its elegant materials, the Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 (Ref. IW459306/ IW459307/IW459308), thanks to its recessed inner circle adds a more pronounced three-dimensional structure to the silver-plated dial and emphasizes circularity as a design feature of the line – together with the richly coloured Santoni alligator leather straps – complementing the feminine appeal of a watch that is water-resistant to 3 bar. The new lugs with their moving horns ensure that the strap fits perfectly around the wrist and is comfortable to wear. The mechanical 35800-calibre automatic movement powers this model, while pulling the crown enables stopping of the central seconds to set the watch. The “Flower of Life”, a geometrical figure with several regularly overlapping circles and object of intensive study by Leonardo da Vinci, is engraved on the case back. Available in three models: one in red gold, one in a stainless-steel case with diamonds on the bezel and one in stainless steel, all with silver-plated dials. The version in 18-ct red gold (Ref. IW459308) is the outstanding gem among the trio. An impressive ensemble in gold, it comprises a 36-mm, striking horns, a semicircular crown and a bronze-coloured alligator leather strap by Santoni with a pin buckle. The gold-and-blue moon phase rounds off the harmonious overall impression. While the actual length of a lunar month is 29.53 days, the classic moon phase design has a gear train that rounds it down to 29.5 days. The gear train advances the disc automatically by a single tooth each day to depict the correct phase of the moon. When necessary, the display can be adjusted via the correction button at “2 o’clock” using the pin supplied with the watch. 54 pure white diamonds encircle the stainless-steel model (Ref. IW459307). A dark brown alligator leather strap with a butterfly clasp complements the model with the diamond-set bezel. On the silver-plated dial, the shades of gold used for the numerals as well as the hour and minute hands alternate with the blue of the seconds hand and harmonize with the gold-and-blue moon phase display. The power reserve for the three models is 42 hours.
BAUME &MERCIER Promesse Moon Phase
The new Promesse watch gives a glimpse into the mystery behind the four phases of the moon, unveiling each chapter right on the dial. This precious timepiece is a new star amongst Promesse, a collection launched in 2014, which continues to charm with its elegance and sophisticated design. With this new addition, Baume & Mercier combines the poetic complication of fine watchmaking with the aesthetic of a piece of jewellery. With a modern twist, the moon phase drawing perfectly suits the blue lacquered dial. The 30 diamonds, set like two crescent moons, brighten up this starry night and highlight the oval shaped bezel, perfectly fitting into the round (34mm) polished steel case. A final touch—the glossy midnight blue alligator strap, completes the chic masterpiece