“A moon phase watch shows the current phase of the moon as you see it in the sky. The tiny moon that is illustrated in the moon phase subdial, moves according to the real moon. It’s a very basic graphical representation of the passage of time, which is meant more as an artistic complication, one that is fun to own, and to look at.”
Best Moon Phase Watches
- Junghans Meister Kalender
- Mühle Glashütte Teutonia IV Moonphase
- Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase
- Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar
- Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Calendar
- Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Anthracite
- Rolex Cellini Moonphase
- Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moonphase 5396R
- F.P. Journe Lune
The Moon Phase Watch
The moon phase watch. A timepiece that reminds us of how little and insignificant we as humans actually are, compared to the vast, and unexplored universe that we are a part of. I personally find it very relaxing yet impressive to know, that we’re all just spinning through space on this pale blue dot, orbited by a glowing rock, just another little part in the bigger picture. And I think this is exactly why moon phase watches are such a success within the watch industry. And since I recently noticed that I have not once published an article that addresses the topic of moon phase watches, I’ve decided to publish an article soley dedicated to the best moon phase watches that one can buy in the year 2021. To make it more interesting for you, I tried to mix things up, and added a wide array of different-priced moon phase watches to this list. Ranging from your more affordable piece, all the watch to an uber-luxurious watch from F.P. Journe.
What Are Moon Phase Watches?
But before we get into the list, let’s first tackle the question, what a moon phase watch actually is and how it works. Basically, like its name already suggests, a moon phase watch shows the current phase of the moon as you see it in the sky. Quite obvious, isn’t it? The tiny moon that is illustrated in the moon phase subdial, moves according to the real moon. It’s a very basic graphical representation of the passage of time, which is meant more as an artistic complication, one that is fun to own and to look at. In my opinion, it’s just eye candy. Very sweet eye candy, but still eye candy. That being said, I love moon phase watches. I love the amount of attention and care that went into designing and manufacturing such a watch. I love the enhanced looks a moon phase dial has.
So, know that you’ve got an introduction on how moon phase watches work and what they are good for, let’s dive straight into the list with the watches, shall we?
Junghans Meister Kalender
First up is a watch from the German brand Junghans. Introducing the Junghans Meister Kalender. Junghans’ design had its originated in the 1960s and is a tribute to the famous designer and architect, Max Bill, who was trained in the renowned Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany. It was there, where he learned to create minimal, modern works that manage to be as refreshing today as they were at their inception. And the Junghans Meister Kalender is the perfect embodiment of that long-lasting design philosophy.
The Junghans Meister Kalender features a polished stainless-steel case, which measures 40.4mm in diameter, 12mm in thickness, and 45mm from lug to lug. Thanks to its short lugs, this watch will wear slightly smaller than it is stated on paper and makes it perfect for a wide array of different wrist sizes. For someone like me, who has a 16.5cm (6.5inch) wrist, this is quite nice. Complementing the carefully polished case perfectly is a crisp white dial, which features applied brushed indexes, a painted outer minute rail, luminous dauphine style hands, windows for the day and the month, and a moon phase display with an outer date ring just above the 6 o’clock position. I particularly like the contrast between the deep blue moon phase display and the snow-white dial base plate. It gives the watch this very clean and tidy look, but without looking boring or blend. Nicely done Junghans!
But as cool as the dial may be, let’s take a closer look at what’s on the inside of the Meister Kalender. Inside of the watch beats a self-winding caliber J800.3 movement, which basically is a modified ETA 2824-2, therefore providing around 38 hours of power reserve.
To sum it up, for a price of just $2,300 you can get your hands on a gorgeous-looking moon phase watch, that thanks to its reliable movement, will serve you very well.
Specifications: Price: $2,300, Case Size: 40.4mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic J800.3 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Plexiglas
Mühle Glashütte Teutonia IV Moonphase
Moving on to the Mühle Glashütte Teutonia IV Moonphase. Inspired by the magic of the moonlight, this watch is all about the moon and its many fascinating aspects and secrets. But before I get into the specs of the watch, let’s take a closer look at Mühle’s history and how they have developed since their establishment in 1869. It was then when Robert Mühle, who was born under the name of George Albert Mühle, started his own watch workshop, which grew and grew, and eventually developed into the only manufacturer of measuring instruments for watchmaking companies of Glashütte. In the next century, the company had to endure several setbacks, but in the end, came out even stronger than before. This resulted in the production of their very first wristwatch, which, in 1996, started a whole new era for the company. An era, which led us to where we are today and to the Teutonia IV Moonphase.
The Mühle Glashütte Teutonia IV Moonphase features a carefully polished stainless-steel case, which measures 41mm in diameter, 12.6mm in thickness, and 51.3mm from lug to lug. And I must admit that I was a little bit shocked when I heard about the 51.3mm lug to lug distance, especially considering its reasonable case diameter. The main reason behind this rather big discrepancy, are the long, straight lugs, which rise from the case’s edges. But aside from that, the case seems to be high quality and nicely finished. Adding to that overall classy feeling is the crisp white dial, which features polished applied indexes, blued steel hands, a date window at 3 o’clock, as well as a beautifully made moon phase display, that was placed just below the dial’s center. And to make sure that the dial is kept in this pristine condition, it’s protected by an anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
At the heart of this dreamy moon phase watch, lies an automatic Sellita SW 461-1 movement, which was modified by Mühle and provides around 41 hours of power reserve. And that’s it, if you are looking for a great watch that has a moon phase complication and won’t cost you more than $3,000, this watch will be perfect for you.
Specifications: Price: $2,699, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 12.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: 51.3mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW 461-1 movement, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase
Curtain up for the next watch on this list. The Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture. The Slimline Moonphase is one of the successors of the earlier FC Moonphase watches, which were highly popular among watch enthusiasts and collectors. With its simple design and high-quality Swiss movement, this watch is the pure embodiment of Frederique Constant’s philosophy, which states that they want to produce high-quality, swiss-made watches at fair prices. This statement was given by the two founders of the brand, Aletta Bax and Peter Stas after they launched Frederique Constant back in 1988.
This watch with the reference FC-705S4S features a carefully polished stainless steel case, which measures 42mm in diameter, 11.3mm in thickness, and 47.5mm from lug to lug. And while I love the slim profile of the watch, I would have wished that they reduced the case size down to around 40mm, just to make it even more accessible to an even broader range of potential buyers. But since this isn’t a wish list, let’s focus on other parts of the watch. Namely, the dial. The watch boasts a silver-colored dial, which features polished applied hour indexes, hand-polished, silver-plated hands, as well as a gorgeous moon phase window at 6 o’clock, which is hugged by a simple date ring. As you may have noticed already, the idea of combining the moon phase window with the date window is quite popular, and something that is used even by the most sophisticated brands in the industry. And like the previous two moon phase watches on this list, I really like the visual contrast of the deep blue moon phase, against the white base plate of the dial. This just adds so much value to the visual appeal of the timepiece.
Powered by the automatic, in-house FC-705 movement, the watch can stay unwound and unworn for around 42 hours, before it stops ticking.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a very nicely executed moon phase watch with an in-house movement, that won’t cost you the world, this Frederique Constant Slimline is a very good choice.
Specifications: Price: $3,190, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 11.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.5, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic in-house FC-705 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar
With the next watch, we are leaving the affordable territory, and enter the high-end, more luxurious part of the moon phase watch category. Introducing the Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar. A watch famously known for its asymmetrical and out-of-the-norm dial composition. Like the dial, the brand behind the watch also is a little bit off the norm, since it didn’t actually start off as a real watch manufacturer. What do I mean by that? Well, Glashütte Original was created by the privatization of VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB), an East German conglomerate formed from the watch companies based in Glashütte, like A. Lange & Söhne for example. Basically, it was a group of different watch brands. But this somehow changed, and now they are producing their very own watches and rose to the top ranks of brands within the watch industry.
And one reason for their success definitely has to do with their unique approach to dial design. An approach that we clearly see when we look at their PanoMaticLunar model. The Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar features a stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 12.7mm in thickness, and 47mm from lug to lug. Considering the number of different complications and windows that are present on this dial, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that the watch only measures 40mm in diameter. Speaking of which, the Galvanic matte blue dial features polished and applied indexes, a main dial for telling the hours and minutes, a smaller subdial for telling the seconds, an awesome date window, as well as the obligatory moon phase indicator, which besides looking fabulous, also has a small date scale, that helps the user to differentiate and time the different moon phases. Protecting that masterpiece of a dial is a sapphire crystal.
The watch is powered by the automatic caliber 90-02 manufacture movement, which features a ton of refined details, like a hand-engraved balance bridge, a skeletonized rotor (off-center) with double-G symbol, and 21-carat gold oscillation weight, or the blued screws. The movement beats at 28,800 BPH and provides approximately 42 hours of power reserve.
Priced at $9,900, this watch certainly isn’t cheap. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth its price tag. I personally think that a watch that features such a sophisticated dial, a diverse range of complications, and highly refined mechanical movement, is certainly worth a price tag of that caliber.
Specifications: Price: $9,900, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 12.7mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic caliber 90-02 manufacture movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Calendar
Moving on to the next pick on this list. The Jaeger LeCoultre Master Control Calendar. The Master Control is just one of many diverse watches that make up JLC’s (short for Jaeger LeCoultre) very diverse lineup. Founded back in 1833, Jaeger LeCoultre has developed over 1,200 individual calibers and, to this day, is holding over 400 different patents. And part of their collection are the Master models, which are described by JLC to be the following:
“Combining sophistication and distinctive personality, three collections with their own distinctive characteristics and appeal – Master Ultra Thin, Master Control, and Master Grande Tradition – ensure there is something for every Fine Watchmaking enthusiast.”
And I personally think that the JLC Master Control Calendar is described quite nicely by that statement. The watch features a beautifully polished stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 10.95mm in thickness, and 46.5mm from lug to lug. For my 6.5-inch wrist, the watch has awesome proportions. The relatively short lugs make it more compact than it initially looks on paper, which makes it also a very nice choice for a dress watch. Complementing that case perfectly is the sunburst silver/grey dial, which features polished Arabic numerals and indexes, luminous Dauphine hands, a day and month display, a date ring on the outer scale of the dial, a jumping date hand, which flies between the 15th and 16th day of the month, as well as the stunning moon phase complication which is located in an aperture at 6 o’clock. The whole thing then is topped off by a sapphire crystal, which makes for an excellent protective layer against any outside influences.
If you turn this watch on its back and look through the open caseback, you can see the automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 866AA in all its glory. The movement was created out of 344 individual pieces, offers a full calendar complication, which includes everything from seconds to the moon phase, and provides around 70 hours of power reserve.
I must admit that I’m a big fan of JLC’s Master Control Calendar. Many only think of JLC in connection with the Reverso. And while the Reverso surely is a great watch, the Master lineup has so much to offer. In the case of the Master Control Date, it’s an awesome mechanical movement, a stunningly beautiful dial with a full calendar complication and a gorgeous moon phase, as well as a fair price tag of $11,900.
Specifications: Price: $11,900, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 10.95mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.5mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 866AA movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Anthracite
Coming up next is a very cool timepiece from legendary watchmaker Jaquet Droz. Namely, the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Anthracite. I previously mentioned them in an article about the best luxury watch brands, which you can check out here, and to this day I think that Jaquet Droz belongs to the greatest watchmakers on the planet. I really dig their work and their extraordinary designs, which, in my opinion, play in the same league as Arnold & Son, Jacob & Co., or Roger Dubuis. Jaquet Droz was founded back in 1738 by Pierre Jaquet Droz, who besides producing mechanical watches, specialized in making animated dolls known as automata, as well as selling mechanical caged songbirds. Quite the career, wasn’t it?
And part of his legacy is the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Anthracite, a watch that features a carefully polished stainless-steel case, and measures 43mm in diameter and 13.23mm in thickness. Now for those of you that browse through my blog on a regular basis, you know that I’m not a big fan of watches that are bigger than 41-42mm in diameter. Especially when the watch is more on the dressier side of the scale. Therefore, I would have wished that Jaquet Droz would have reduced the size to like 39mm or 40mm like they did in other Grande Seconde models. Anyway, this is quite a personal topic and, in the end, up for every person to decide on their own. I’m just here to give my unbiased opinion on the matter. The watch has a very special dial, which features a gray sand-blasted baseplate, painted indexes and markers, blued steel hands, one dial that displays hour and minute, and one bigger dial that indicates the date, 60-seconds, and the obligatory moon phase.
Powered by the automatic Jaquet Droz 2660QL3 movement, the watch does not only look stunning, but it also performs nicely when we look at what’s behind it all. And that’s basically it. Priced at $15,200, this watch certainly isn’t cheap, but if you want to dip your toes into the haute horlogerie and maybe want something that isn’t necessarily regarded as the norm, I’m confident that this Jaquet Droz moon phase will be a good choice for you.
Specifications: Price: $15,200, Case Size: 43mm, Thickness: 13.23mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic Jaquet Droz 2660QL3 movement, Power Reserve: 68 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Rolex Cellini Moonphase
Next up is the Rolex Cellini Moonphase. Before we begin, I must say that I’ve long debated with myself if I really should include this watch into this list. Why? Because I personally connect the brand Rolex with more sportive models, like the Rolex Submariner, the Daytona, or the GMT Master, and not necessarily with a pure dress watch that on top, also features a moon phase. But in the end, I’ve still decided to add it, since this blog is all about showing you all the different sides of every watch brand out there, and if Rolex has a dressier side, I don’t want to withhold that from you. And also, let’s just admit that the Cellini looks great.
The Rolex Cellini Moonphase features an Everose golden case, which measures 39mm in diameter, 13.4mm in thickness, and 46.4mm from lug to lug. Something that Rolex just gets right is the proportions. Besides the Day-Date 41, I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with any case size that Rolex chose. And this is something that most brands can’t say about themselves, since I’m, admittedly, very picky when it comes to case sizes. And I have to say that the 39mm case that Rolex created for the Cellini is an absolute banger. Great diameter, great profile, and a great lug to lug distance. This is a perfect moon phase/dress watch for those of you that want to wear it with cufflinks or even a tuxedo. Just keep in mind that the case is made from Everose gold. On top of the case sits a domed and fluted bezel, which makes for a perfect transition onto the crisp white dial, with the blue enameled disc at 6 o’clock showing the full moon and the new moon, the former depicted by a meteorite applique and the latter by a silver ring. The deep blue moon phase on the Cellini is very present, which makes for a great combination with the Everose golden case and bezel.
The watch is powered by the automatic Rolex 3195 movement, which beats at 28,800 BPH and provides approximately 48 hours of power reserve.
After writing that short summary, I’m now very glad that I’ve decided to include this watch in this list. While we normally connect Rolex to sporty steel watches, the Cellini shows very impressively, that there is another side to one of the world’s most famous watch brands.
Specifications: Price: $26,750, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 13.4mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.4mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Rolex 3195 movement, Power Reserve: 48 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moonphase 5396R
Moving on to our second last contender of today, the Patek Philippe Calendar Moonphase with the reference 5396R. A watch that has its origins back in 1996 and has been a success story ever since. From a design perspective, the 5396R has a lot in common with the iconic Patek Philippe Calatrava, a watch that was launched in 1932 and was one of the main contributors to Patek’s present success.
The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moonphase 5396R features a rose gold case, which measures 38.5mm in diameter, 11.2mm in thickness, and 46.8mm from lug to lug. Similar to the Rolex Cellini we had prior to this, Patek just knows how to size their watches. The case size makes it perfect on a wide array of different wrist sizes and ensures that the watch can be worn with almost every formal or non-formal outfit. Maybe not necessarily in sweatpants and a hoodie, but you get the point. Complementing the beautifully polished case is a silvery opaline dial, which features applied golden hour markers, polished Dauphine hands, day and month windows just below the Patek Philippe logo, a date window at 6 o’clock, as well as a gorgeous, blue and golden moon phase display.
At the heart of the 5396R lies the automatic Caliber 324 S QA LU 24H/303, which consists of 347 individual parts, 10 bridges, and 34 jewels. The slightly complicated named movement also provides a complete annual calendar complication and provides between 35 and 45 hours of power reserve.
I mean let’s be honest here. This watch costs $53,600. This and the next watch on this list are probably just here for fun, I think most of you (including me) would have to save up for a long long time to be able to afford this masterpiece of a watch. But nevertheless, I wanted to have some fun and also show you some of the more extravagant pieces. And in case you are one of the lucky ones that actually can afford such a piece, buy it, it’s certainly worth it, and even holds its value quite nicely at around +/- 5%.
Specifications: Price: $53,600, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 11.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.8mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic Caliber 324 S QA LU 24H/303 movement, Power Reserve: 35-45 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
F.P. Journe Lune
And last one but not least, the F.P. Journe Lune. As the seasoned reader of this blog may know, F.P. Journe is actually one of my favorite watch brands out there, one of the reasons for that being their unique approach to watch design. But it’s not just the design of the watches, F.P. Journe is also quite prestigious and known for their exquisite mechanical movements. Just to give you an idea of how prestigious and successful F.P. Journe is, F.P. Journe is the only three-time winner of the Aiguille d’Or grand prize from the Fondation du Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève. A sought-after award, which even winning for only one time is one of the greatest honors for every watch manufacturer. But F.P. Journe thought that one or even two times wasn’t enough. They won three times.
And the F.P. Journe Lune is a prime example of their mechanical mastery. The prestigious Maison offers the platinum case of the F.P. Journe Lune either in 40mm or 42mm. I personally would choose the 40mm, just because I like my watches to be smaller in size. Complementing the beautifully polished platinum grade case is the grainy grey dial, which features an off-center white dial that indicates hours and minutes, a small seconds display that overlaps the bigger, off-center dial, a large date display at 11 o’clock, a blued steel hand that indicates the power reserve at 9 o’clock, and finally, a stunning moon phase indicator at 8 o’clock, which depicts a silvery moon is against a starry blue sky.
But as spectacular as the dial and the case may be, you just know that F.P. Journe has, even more, to offer when it comes to their movements. At the heart of the F.P. Journe lies the marvelous, 18kt rose gold movement, which is based on the iconic caliber Octa 1300.3. A self-winding movement, that features an off-center 22k 5n gold F.P. Journe rotor, an in-line lever escapement, the F.P. Journe freesprung chronometer balance, and a flat Anachron microflamed spring. The movement is the result of extensive research and testing, 271 different parts, and 36 jewels. But it doesn’t end here, the movement provides around 160 hours of power reserve (+/-10), meaning that you can leave your watch unwound and unworn for over 6 days, and it still keeps the time accurately.
Like with every watch on this list, I probably don’t have to tell you what a great watch the F.P. Journe Lune is. I think every watch enthusiast that is familiar with F.P. Journe’s work, will know that. And yes, this isn’t your typical moon phase watch, and it doesn’t even come near to being affordable. But since I have enormous respect for F.P. Journe and the work they do, I wanted to include them on this list. Simple as that.
Specifications: Price: $50,000, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 10.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: n/a, Movement: Automatic Octa 1300.3 movement, Power Reserve: 160 hours (+/- 10h), Crystal: Sapphire