A display that tells the current phase of the moon is among one of the earliest complications that were added to a watch. In today’s world, not many people have a particular need to know the exact phase of the moon, but in the past, it played a far more significant role in everyday life. While the importance of this complication has changed over the years, its appeal hasn’t. Even on modern watches, a moon phase indicator is among one of the most popular complications, yet a vintage watch with this feature has an appeal of its own.
As one of the most eminent watchmakers of its time did Abraham-Louis Breguet frequently incorporated a moon phase indicator in both his pocket watches as well as the travel clocks that he made. The one displayed above, No.3066, stands out by its oversized moon phase display placed at the center of the dial, making it a very captivating timepiece. It further has all the Breguet hallmarks, such as the signature design of the hands and the guilloche dial, as well as an added complication, as this watch is also fitted with a repeater.
Before the Daytona owned by Paul Newman came up for sale, it was the Reference 6062 “Bao Dai” that held the title of being the most expensive Rolex ever to be auctioned. This watch features a full calendar that included a moon phase, and although Rolex made throughout its history a few references with such a complication, they remain relatively rare. This particular watch also had a few other features that made it so desirable. It was owned by the last emperor of Vietnam and is the only Reference 6062 known to be fitted with diamond hour markers on a black dial. In general black dials are more of a rarity on vintage moon phase watches.
While silver was the most popular choice among watch manufacturers, other dial colors have been made on occasion, such as this Patek Philippe reference 1518 with a rose dial. This color dial is a perfect match to the pink gold case and bracelet and makes the moon phase stand out even more. It is interesting to note that many watch manufactures crafted their moons with a face in it, while Patek Philippe opted to just make it a golden disc. Reference 1518 also represents a significant part of watchmaking history as when it was launched in 1941 it was the very first chronograph with a perpetual calendar ever to be made in series.
Omega also has an intimate relationship with the moon, but before they made the first watch to ever make it to the closest planet to earth, moon phase watches where already a part of their collection. The Cosmic is perhaps the best known vintage Omega with this complication. It is a very classic full calendar, with a pointer date and two windows for month and day. The moon phase is placed at six o’clock, and this is the most common, yet perhaps also most appealing way to display the phases of the moon. Especially with the stars added to the moon phase disc, it has that sense of nostalgia that makes this, and all those other vintage moon phase watches so irresistibly desirable and increasingly popular.