It could have been about three or four years since I saw a Gallet Astronomic listed last time. It was on eBay, and the price reached the €10,000 limit, so I was hesitant. My dilemma didn’t last long; someone bought it before I made up my mind. When the opportunity came again, I was ready!

Last December, I reviewed the Valjoux 72C-powered Gallet Calendar Chronograph, which is listed in catalogs (and stamped on the case back) with reference number 998. I believe my excitement about that watch was evident. Today, six months later, I still cannot get enough of its whitey-white dial. It was one of the biggest surprises for me. It has grown on me so much that it has got way more wrist time than my Heuer Autavia or Breitling Avi 765 Lucy Digital, which are way more desirable and sought-after than Gallet chronographs. There is something special about the proportions, white space, branding, and color detailing that gets deep under my skin.

Gallet MultiChron Astronomic Ref. 999

The missing moonphase chronograph

Since I quite unexpectedly acquired the Gallet Calendar Chronograph, which instantly started to populate my wrist extensively, I knew I wanted the Gallet MultiChron Astronomic with a moonphase complication even more. Well, but there were two problems to solve. The first problem was that the Astronomic is worth double the Gallet ref. 998. Second, it’s not available in quantities like vintage Speedies or Submariners. You can imagine how envious I was when I witnessed my friend pick one from some old watchmaker’s vault…

Patience is the only way

I love to collect watches you cannot buy anytime you decide to. Sometimes, your wallet simply needs to be fat enough, and you get whatever you want. But try to get a Gallet MultiChron Astronomic ref. 999 or its 14K gold twin, ref. 1999. Getting such a watch is all about checking all possible sources regularly. This paid off (again) for me recently, and I managed to score a surprisingly nice example.

The mighty Valjoux 88

The Valjoux 72C caliber, which can be found in the Gallet ref. 998, was introduced in 1944. A moonphase complication was added three years later, in 1947, and the caliber was named 88 VZHCL, short for “Valjoux Zähler Heures Calendrier Lune.” Similar to ref. 998, the Gallet Astronomic ref. 999 has two pin buttons on the left side of the case. When you press the pin at 8 o’clock halfway, it advances the lunar phase only. When you press it fully, the date jumps with the moon too.

The Valjoux 88 is an undeniably complex masterpiece manufactured to high standards of quality. If you cannot play in the Patek league, this is probably the best you can get if you want a sports chronograph equipped with a triple calendar and moonphase complication. And you are not limited to Gallet, you can find it cased in Record, Doxa, or even more premium Heuer and Breitling watches.

Gallet MultiChron Astronomic Ref. 999 dial close-up

Do we need moonphase watches?

The idea that the lunar phases can affect human behavior is a topic that has been debated for centuries. Villagers were hunting werewolves during the full Moon, while artists and writers felt more inspired and women discussed fertility and birth rates. When I have difficulty sleeping, I don’t check how much I drank that evening but, rather, look through my big window and check the phase of the Moon. But do I ever need to check the lunar phase on my watch? Never, to be honest, but since I landed that complication, it has been entertaining to do so.

Some complications are always handy. When I am cooking pasta for my kids’ dinner, I almost automatically press the chrono pusher or align the rotating bezel to my watch’s minute hand. These are complications I learned to use automatically to help me with whatever I am doing. The moonphase indicator is a different story. It helps me realize the world around me.

Side by side

I would like to say that the two watches above are identical, but the opposite is true. Sure, the pushers, lugs, and cases all feel the same. But for me, the considerably bigger 12-hour counter on ref. 999 disturbs the wonderful proportions that ref. 998 has. I know there is no point in comparing them, but I cannot help myself as they’re both Gallet watches. Besides the counter, notice that the branding is different. The smaller version is indisputably nicer to me.

Last thoughts on the Gallet MultiChron Astronomic

Although ref. 998 is still my preferred watch, ref. 999 stole a piece of my heart. It’s my first moonphase watch ever. With a three-hander, I’d feel no reason to check the lunar phase. Anytime I wear the Gallet Astronomic, though, I notice the little smiling moon on the dial whenever I check the time. If I am not super busy at that moment, it makes me remember and think about our Moon. I won’t go into details about my thoughts, but they’re unusual and nice. If you’ve never had a moonphase watch, I encourage you to get one — maybe even a Gallet. Happy hunting.