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Watches + Jewellery


As the nights draw in, the only complication worth investing in is a moon phase


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It’s taken a while for the Swiss watch industry to realise that women like complications as much as men. Maybe they thought that we had enough to complicate our everyday life that we just didn’t need it in a watch; or maybe they thought that our brains just couldn’t cope with anything more challenging than hour and minute indications. Given the Swiss love of historically reducing a woman’s role to kinder, küche, kirche (children, kitchen, church), it’s probably the latter. However, the last 20 years has seen a major shift. More female faces at the boardroom, and design room, tables has seen a rise in complicated timepieces designed with women in mind, rather than palming them off with the shrinking and pinking of a man’s watch. “When you make a complicated watch for men, they want to see the complication and the technical elements that have gone into the watch,” explains Sandrine Stern, head of creation at Patek Philippe and author of some of the most beautiful female-centric creations in recent years. “Women still like complicated watches but they also want it to be a piece of jewellery, so we look at what details we can add to the watch to make it more feminine.”

Nothing seems to speak more to women than a moon phase. The female and the lunar are inextricably linked. Our bodies wax and wane like its monthly cycle, Wiccans tie their spelling casting to particular phases, its energy is associated with the Divine Feminine.

That isn’t to say that a moon phase is all beauty and no brains. The skill here is mechanically matching the lunar cycle, which is actually 29.53 days long. Most moon phases use a 59-toothed wheel on which are two images of the moon. This disc passes through an aperture every 29.5 days, meaning you will lose accuracy after three years. Brands with more technical prowess opt for a 135-toothed wheel, meaning you only need to correct it every 122 years. The most accurate moon phase out there, though perhaps not the most beautiful to look at, is Andreas Strehler’s Sauterelle à Lune Perpétuelle. It will still be accurate in two million years, which certainly makes it something to leave your granddaughter 70,0000 times removed.


The new moon

Hermès L’Arceau de La Lune

Launched this year, this is one of the most technically breath-taking and visually stunning moon phases around. The dial has two stationary moons over which float two small lacquer ones – one for the time, the other for the date. These rotate around the dial every 59 days, covering and revealing the moons – top representing the southern hemisphere, the lower the northern – in accordance with the lunar phases. Set against a backdrop of glittering aventurine, it looks as though you literally have the moon on your wrist.

RRP: £20,500

The full moon

Rotonde de Cartier Day Night

You really do get the complete lunar experience with this amazing display from Cartier. The lower half of the dial is a retrograde moon phase, while the beautiful display dominating the upper half is a day night indication rendered like something out of a medieval astrolabe. Unusual and mesmeric, it’s ideal if you like your complications scientific rather than sweet.

RRP: £37,400


Bvlgari Lvcea Moon phase

If you like your moon phases apertures oversized, then prepare to be seduced by this from Bvlgari. The brand’s director of watch design Fabrizio Buonamassa said that he wanted to emphasise the romantic rather than the mechanic aspect of this complication; something that is enhanced by the celestial juxtaposition between the sundial inspired case, large gold moon and the addition of sparkling star-like diamond indices. A heavenly combination.

RRP: £13,800


Patek Philippe Ref. 7121J

Sometimes the best things are the simplest, as this Patek Philippe expertly illustrates. It’s the details that really make this timepiece. There’s the classic small moon at six o’clock with its coterie of gold stars; the silver grained dial shimmers as if caught in moon light; the applied gold Breguet numerals glow, while the diamonds glitter like starlight. It’s pared-back perfection.

RRP: £27,180

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