No decent watch collection should miss a dress watch. I think we can all agree on that. I think that a very classy yet interesting way to spice up your dress watch line-up is adding a vintage moon phase to it. That is a complication one would use probably the rarest but it is among the most fascinating complications a watch could have. Most people think that these pieces cost an arm and a leg. To be fair, sometimes they do indeed. We are going to talk about the affordable ones though. Fancy a vintage mechanical moon phase for under $1500? Keep reading.

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Unusual Omega Cosmic Moon Phase by Matthew Bain Inc.

Vintage Moon Phase Watches

Moon phase (or moonphase, perhaps moon-phase) watches are the types of watches every self-respecting watch company in history produced from Patek Philippe to Casio. The name is pretty self explanatory (to read more about these watches have a look at RJ’s article), it’s a complication that shows you the phase of the moon synchronized sometime with the day-date and time. They bring something extraordinary to a watch’s dial not to mention that it makes the watch look über cool.

The big dogs all have their model(s) of moon phase watches but let’s be honest; for most of us that’s a whole different ball game. Not to worry guys, there’s good news. You have plenty to choose from in the sub-$1500 price range. Underdogs  like Zodiac, Movado, Universal Geneve, Leonidas and many no-name brands offer sometimes the same quality (at least regarding movements) for the fraction of the price of Rolex for instance.

photo by Matthew Bain Inc.

photo by Matthew Bain Inc.


A beautiful Leonidas from Timepiece UK’s collection

A basic vintage moon phase usually have a date complication, where above the center of the dial, just under 12 there are 2 date windows, one displays the month of the year while the other the day. The moon phase should be under the center close to 6. The dates are located on the outer rim of the dial starting with the 1st of the month above 12 going all the way clock-wise till 31st which should be between 11 and 12 but closer to the latter. The watch also has 4 hands; other tun the usual hour/minute/second hands you can also find another long hand similar to a second hand. This indicates the date mentioned above. On the side of the case there are 4 little pushers for setting each feature. Some watches offer a chronograph function as well. These pieces are sometimes called Tri-Compax (3 complications like chronograph, day-date and moon phase) a term widely used now but originally coming from Univeral Geneve.

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Ben’s (Hodinkee) Universal Geneve Tri-Compax

Of course it’s worth mentioning that like every watch made 50-60 years ago they are a bit small compared to nowadays standards. The average size of these wonderful vintage watches are around 33-36mm not including the crown. If that does not bother you or if you can find a decent sized model it could be a fine addition and a great conversation starter for sure. They might not cost but I can assure you they feel a million bucks.

Header photo by Ipromise from Watchuseek. Thanks!