Moon Phase Watches (How They Work, Pricing & Value)

There is something very human about wanting to know the current phase of the moon. We have been influenced by it for centuries, and even though we now fully understand and have visited the moon, we are still enthralled by it.

A lot of time and dedication goes into creating moon phase watches. They are made using yellow or white gold, diamonds, gems, sapphire crystal, and intricate, high-quality parts for the inner workings. Due to the time and materials it takes to craft a moon phase watch; the price can range from affordable to extremely expensive.

Watchmakers have also been obsessed with the passing phases of the moon for almost as long as watches have existed. And watches that contain a moon phase complication are often very much out of reach of the average person.

What is a Moonphase Watch?

By definition, a moon phase watch is one that relays the 29.5-day lunar cycle by exhibiting the current moon phase in an aperture on the dial. That’s also known as a moon phase complication. ( A complication means any feature on a watch that’s not directly related to the time display.)

A moon phase, by the way, is a human’s practical way of describing the luminous (or visible) portion of the moon as it orbits the planet.

Likewise, the bulk of moon phase watches present the moon in its current phase of the lunar cycle, using the aperture to hide any non-luminous parts. As one might imagine, specific designs and visuals vary from piece to piece.

There are two basic types of watches with moon phase complications. The most common is known as a “bosom” moon phase watch.

This type takes a graphical approach by physically showing the moon in its various phases inside a crescent-shaped aperture. The other type is known as a “radial” moon phase watch, and it uses an indicator hand to track the lunar cycle.

Moonphase watch on wood grain table just before lunch.

How Does a Moonphase Watch Work?

One of the earliest watch mechanisms ever developed, moon phase complications typically involve placing two identical moons on a disc under the dial.

Controlling the movement of the disc is a 59-tooth driving wheel, which uses a mechanical finger to advance the disc once per day.

After a single 29.5-day lunar cycle is completed, the second moon appears in the aperture, hence the total of 59 teeth (29.5 x 2).

Are Moonphase Watches Accurate?

Naturally, the details of the underlying moon disc will vary based on the design of the dial and aperture, while the driving wheel remains constant. Most moon phase watches are consistently accurate, but the standard 59-tooth driving wheels are also somewhat limited in their precision.

As a result, standard moon phase watches will be off by a full day once every two years, seven and a half months, meaning you’ll need to manually adjust the watch about once every three years.

Meanwhile, some luxury brands implement a 135-tooth driving wheel in order to provide a substantial boost to accuracy. Those watches will be off by one day after 122 years, as opposed to two years, seven and a half months, which is a remarkable difference.

And if only the most painstaking accuracy will suffice, consider Andreas Strehler’s “Lune Exacte” moon phase watch, which can reportedly go for two million years before needing a correction.

Why Are Moonphase Watches So Expensive?

Given its inextricable ties with the concept of time, horologists have long attempted to replicate this beautiful phenomenon into a tool the size of our palms.

Thanks to its relatively predictable cycles, creating gears that can accurately track it is possible. With time came scientific advancements that led to the dissipation of the practical use of moon phases to track time and guide behaviors.

Tracking the moon phase is more an art than science these days, and this feature has been pushed to more expensive watches, where more functions are usually required to justify their high prices.

However, we think that there is beauty in being reminded of moon phases. The significance of time is highlighted when we notice its passage through the gradual shifting of a gorgeous celestial body.

Excellent Craftsmanship

Most moon phase watches are constructed with incredible craftsmanship and quality. However, the brand needs to design every watch precisely and exquisitely. The sophisticated curves and beautiful lines should never cause any discomfort on the wrist.


The unique designs, precious materials, intricate movements, and other complications make moon phase watches expensive.

However, the brand’s automatic movements are one of the significant innovations in the horological industry. The movements undergo stringent tests of time as formulated by COSC.

Another significant fact is that the quartz watches of the brand’s collection have been real innovators of quartz technology. And the quartz watches collection makes the brand a highly valuable and reputed one.

What Are the Most Expensive Moon Phase Watches?

The tracking and recording of time has always been inextricably linked with the mysterious motions of heavenly bodies, most notably the sun, around which Earth revolves, and the moon.

Earth’s own satellite, whose monthly journey around our planet has inspired astronomers, poets, navigators, and, yes, watchmakers to explore and understand its unique place in our cosmos.

Over the years, watchmakers have used some of their most creative and innovative timepieces to express their fascination with Luna, both its romantic and scientific aspects.

But the manufacturing and creation of these timepieces allow these watches to sell for a pretty penny. Below are three of the most expensive moon phase watches on the market.

Patek Philippe Grand Complications Celestial Watch

The Moon phase Patek Philippe Grand Complications Celestial watch is maybe the most expensive, complicated, luxurious, and impressive watch with a moon phase function out there.

Founded in 1839, Patek Philippe is one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world with an uninterrupted watchmaking history since its founding. This tells a lot about brand standards and the experience gathered over a period of almost two centuries.

Keep in mind that Patek Philippe produces all of their watches in-house, and each watch takes years to be produced since each watch is handmade and hand-assembled by a professional watchmaker. All details are carved in gold, silver, steel, or platinum and polished under the microscope, then tested for the highest quality.t.

This is why this watch and particular brand stands in the first position. This is a watch that only watch collectors can afford and find. The price ranges between $180,000 and $300,000 depending on materials used, variations, whether or not it’s a limited edition and whether it is new or previously owned.

The watch features a 43mm 18k white gold case surrounding a blue Celestial dial on a brand new black alligator strap with an 18k white gold tang buckle. Functions include hours, minutes, moon phase, and astronomic display.

A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Moon Phase 18kt Rose Gold Automatic Black Dial

The A. Lange & Sohne is a German old watch manufacturer brand that ceased to exist at some point and reopened its gates in 1990 with the help of Walter Lange. Walter Lange isthe great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange.

The A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Moon Phase 18kt Rose Gold Automatic is the one on the right but they also have the white gold version.

This watch model is minimalist, with a different type of elegance compared to the first one. A. Lange & Sohne is a world-class brand, and Lange’s movements are developed, produced, and assembled by Lange itself.

The price tag for a new Saxonia Moon Phase 18kt gold watch is around $25,000, making it 10 times cheaper compared to the Patek Philippe Grand Complications.

IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar Hemisphere Moon Phase

IWC Schaffhausen is a luxury Swiss watch manufacturer located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar Hemisphere Moon Phase is another Swiss masterpiece.

It features a 44.2mm 18k rose gold case surrounding a black dial on a brown alligator strap with an 18k rose gold deployant buckle. Functions include hours, minutes, day, date, month, moon phase, perpetual calendar, and power reserve indicator.

IWC is notable for being the only major Swiss watch manufacturer located in eastern Switzerland, as the majority of the well-known Swiss watch manufacturers are located in western Switzerland. The price for this Moon Phase is $23,000.

Summing It Up

Moon watches are expensive because they can take years upon years to handcraft, as they require intricate details, high-end materials, and consist of gold, diamonds, and other ethically sourced gems.

Most of the brands that make moon watches are luxury brands, meaning they’re crafted in-house. Not to mention, some of them are Swiss-made and inspected, adding to the value.

Moon watches are more of an investment than a purchase, as they typically appreciate over time. However, you need to have the original parts, packaging, certification, and paperwork that came with it.

Lastly, the accuracy, of course, is one of the most important aspects of having a moon phase watch. So, coupled with durability, gold, diamonds, and other materials, these watches can be very costly. But they’re well worth the price! Just make sure you’re purchasing the watch from an authentic dealer.

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