Centuries ago, humans guesstimated dates seeing the moon. Over time, humans evolved and so did their date-computing methods. Regardless, seeing the moon and deducing time sounded quite intriguing. And that is perhaps the reason why luxury watchmakers invariably incorporate the ‘moonphase’ feature in their premium watches. Though moonphases do not necessarily serve any major purpose today, they add an element of complication to the watch, which looks high-end and also helps luxury watchmakers justify (to an extent) the ultra-high prices they charge for their timepieces.
The Moonphase – Brief History
No individual or institution can take credit for or claim to have invented the moonphase. The earliest examples of moonphases were found in astronomical clocks. However, these clocks weren’t the most popular and, as a result, withered without anyone batting an eye. The moonphase tracking module didn’t go down with it, fortunately. Around the 1500s, the moonphase resurfaced through German and English clocks. Two centuries later, the element started to feature in wristwatches.
To keep up with the 29.5-day moon cycle, a timepiece should be equipped with 59 teeth on a disc for the moonphase feature to work. If a clock or watch comes with an hour hand, implementing the moonphase module becomes fairly straightforward. The disc would shift once daily with 24 hour-hand rotations. After 59 days, the disc would complete one complete rotation.
For the dual cycles, the disc should also be decked out by a couple of moons. The dial, superimposing the moon disc, functions like a stencil, with a couple of semi-circles emulating the waxing and waning of the moon. This simple methodology creates a moonphase version that should be adjusted once every 971 days.
With advancements in computer modeling and technology, watchmakers are now able to push moonphase accuracy to greater heights. The objective remains the same, but the means to and accuracy of achieving the goal keep constantly evolving.
Innovative watchmakers have come up with movements that need adjustment only once in a century or more. Similarly, different watchmakers have used unique materials, techniques, and craftsmanship to churn out a wider range of moonphase displays.
With the plethora of luxury moonphase watches out on the market, it’s safe to say that you need not look up in the sky or make a search online to ascertain the moon’s phase on any given night. If you are not particularly curious to know what moon phase it is, the complications of a luxury moonphase watch would still keep you glued to the timepiece it’s a part of.