The Moonphase Complication: Is It Irrelevant Or Cool? — Five Takes From Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Naoya Hida, And More
If there is one complication that seems to be low on the desirability meter, it is the moonphase. For me, it’s been the same, but with some sharp new releases over the last couple of years, I have come to appreciate it. I’m no sailor or fisherman dependent on the changing tides, and I’m guessing that most watch lovers aren’t either. While this may make it pretty irrelevant for the majority of us, is the moonphase complication cool nonetheless?
You might find me shallow, but I tend to view this particular classic dial twist in a purely aesthetic sense. But isn’t that OK in 2022? I’m merely trying to be pragmatic here, but for me, the craftsmanship of it is paramount. Plus, a miniature engraved artwork that rotates while showing us the enigmatic face of the Moon sure is just charming. Whether it is as practical as a chronograph or a calendar, I will leave that up to you, Fratelli.
Naoya Hida & Co. Type 3A
The Type 3A is hand-crafted minimalism in a Japanese clean-cut fashion. Perfectionist Hida-san has a classic oeuvre, but a moonphase becomes a frivolous touch on the dial of his top-tier reference. The Type 3A has a spare-design steel dial set within a 37mm 904L steel case, and this is his most elaborate design. For around €24,000 (originally, though now sold out), there is beauty in small details and a feeling of bespoke wrist-tailoring. The power comes from a charmingly modified Valjoux 7751 with the chronograph function omitted. Like any piece from Naoya Hida & Co., it is quietly spoken but packs a subtle punch with an 18K gold hand-engraved moonphase disc at 6 o’clock. The classic cloud-shaped opening sits on a smooth dial with an hour track of engraved lacquer-filled numerals. Flame-treated blued feuille hands match Hida-san’s favorite blue strap choice. This is a study in restraint and an understated investment in Japanese craftsmanship.
Omega Speedmaster Moonphase Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph
A long name that heralds a rather cool Speedy, but perhaps not the moonphase you expected? For many of us, the moonphase complication reeks of classicism, and I’m guilty of the same preconceptions. Just as a tourbillon might be associated with a Calatrava case, the same goes for many a miniature moon. But a storied tool watch like the Speedmaster? You only have to look through our archive to understand the multifaceted nature of the Speedy, including this twin-registered blue version. Omega’s caliber 9904 is METAS-certified and endows this large 44.25mm watch with a charming personality all its own. Its intricate dial configuration is as practical as it is balanced. There’s no messy date window, but instead, a cheeky red crescent within the register at 9 o’clock for the date. And yes, it is well worth its €11,200 price tag for a dressy Speedy with a lunar difference, just not the usual one.
Linde Werdelin Oktopus Moon 3DTP
Linde Werdelin will always be the outlier of this group, and that’s why I have a deep respect for the brand’s focused vision. Within the Oktopus Moon 3DTP, at the base of the dial, lies a row of moons that have been lumed to the max. This together with the typical skeletonized dial and brutal-looking case design makes for great contrast. Instead of crescent-shaped apertures and a blue sky with golden stars, LW reinterprets the classic touch within this 44mm case. And while it might look unwieldy, the Nordic design nous of Jorn Werdelin and Morten Linde shows in the ergonomics. It might look intimidating in all its Vader-esque splendor, but it sits soft and shapely on even a medium wrist. 3DTP is a proprietary carbon layering that removes the weight while keeping the strength. The watch weighs a scarcely believable 60 grams without the strap, and £17,500 will ensure that you have a future-proof high-tech tool watch of remarkable lightness from the Nordic tool meisters.
Artisans de Genève Sea Shepherd Challenge
From having spent an afternoon in the Artisans de Genève atelier last year, my respect for the brand has multiplied. I was already quite smitten by its insouciant take on a Rolex legend, and what about a Submariner with a cheeky crescent on the dial? Unlike most of the well-known skeletonized work of these Swiss artisans, at first glance, it seems to be a normal Submariner. Look again, son, as this is something quite different, starting with an unusually sparkly ambiance. The high gloss of the bezel and dial here is from Aventurine, a glass material also used by Omega in a glitzy Speedmaster. This lends a space-like mysterious air to the piece, compounded in the opening at 6 o’clock. Designed for a hero of mine, Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd, it also includes scalloped sides to the case. “Heresy,” you might say, but I find it nothing but enthralling. For this project, ADG developed its own moonphase module, and the movement is fitted with a white gold and Aventurine rotor. Read more about this unique piece in Dave’s article here, and I dare you to not get smitten.
Vacheron Constantin Regulator Perpetual Calendar Moonlight Jewellery
Bookending my thoughts on the moonphase complication with a classical example seems only right, and what better brand to do it with than Vacheron Constantin? But then again, this is no ordinary moonphase complication. In fact, this 2021 piece from Les Cabinotiers could fill a coffee-table book on its own merit. Les Cabinotiers is the inner sanctum of Vacheron with Pièces Uniques being the division’s specialty. Do not ask about the price, as this slim 11.8mm perpetual calendar is deservedly in the hundreds of thousands. With radiating guilloché rendering its inner dial almost hypnotic, it’s a charming combination of a QP and a regulator display. The 2460 RQP caliber is a “normal” 4Hz (28,800vph) movement, but within this 18K case, the dial’s the star.
Yes, this might be a bespoke piece of Vacheron craftsmanship and beyond the means of mere mortals. But like the Mona Lisa or a Van Gogh canvas, consider it more a piece of art than an actual tool for telling the time. The 42mm case has a classic Calatrava feel, and 44 baguette-cut diamonds set the scene for a glitzy timepiece. I enjoy the fact that it touches on the marine heritage of the regulator layout with its deep navy blue, and a small moonphase set in a complex sub-dial at 6 o’clock seems only appropriate. Inside the blue minute track is another row of diamonds and sapphires to further create a touch of sparkle. But it somehow seems more appropriate than excessive, to the point of the sapphires being functional five-minute markers. I swear that sounded like me justifying what constitutes a house sale to afford it, as the price of this piece is strictly on request, of course.
It’s on you now, Fratelli. Is the moonphase complication cool? Let me know in the comments below, and share your favorite lunar-infused dial.
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