What Is A Moon Phase Watch? By Sally Ashley-Cound

Patek Philippe was not satisfied with the ingenious creation of the Annual Calendar movement, so the brand decided to add a moon phase dial to a select number of its watches, taking the total number of parts in the movement over 330. We take you through everything you need to know about moon phase watches….

Patek Philippe 5146

Simply put, a moon phase watch displays the current phase of the moon. But why would you need one in the 21st century? That’s an easy question to answer. It’s the same reason you would want an expertly crafted watch that displays the date and month, even though you also own a computer and smartphone which automatically remind you of this information. It’s about tradition, love of technology and personal preference.

Not satisfied with the ingenious Annual Calendar function which automatically displays the month, day of the week and date regardless of the length of the month, Patek Philippe has added the further complication of a moon phase dial to a select number of its watches.


While other Patek Philippe watches with perpetual calendars and moon phase displays comprise 275 parts, the increased functionality and accuracy of the Annual Calendar movement with the addition of the moon phase display consists of upwards of 330 parts – making it one of the esteemed watchmaker’s most complicated and detailed movements.

The Patek Philippe Ref 5146, with a 39mm case available in 18-carat yellow or white gold and two dial designs, cream or slate, has the strong presence of a highly technical watch. The hours of the Ref 5146 are indicated in Arabic numerals while the month and days of the week are written around miniature dials in the centre of the watch face. The plus and minus signs of the power reserve indicator add a further scientific feel to the watch.

Patek Philippe 5146

While the Ref 5146 has the utilitarian style of a pilot’s watch, the Ref 5205 is simpler in design, although it has the same number of complications. This simplicity of the 40mm white-gold case is aided by the base design for the watch, the Patek Philippe Calatrava, inspired by the Bauhaus and premiered by Patek Philippe in 1932. The Calatrava is one of Patek Philippe’s signature best-loved and most versatile watch designs.

Despite the understated vintage effect that this watch’s heritage brings, its exceptional colour combinations give it a decidedly modern look. One model unites silvery grey and rhodium grey, the other combines matt black and slate grey. Baton-style hour markers, white-gold dauphine hands and recessed windows for the date and days of the week further enhance the simplicity of the dial, without sacrificing function. The heaviest of the 356-part caliber 324 S QA LU 24H manufacture movement is the 21-carat gold rotor, which automatically winds the watch with every motion of the wrist.

Patek Philippe 5205G

The moon phase complication adds a touch of fantasy to thoroughly modern watch designs without detracting from the elegance of the face and, along with its aesthetic merits, the moon phase mechanism has been praised for its high precision – deviating from the true lunar cycle by only one day in 122 years. Patek Philippe is the expert in creating watches which are not only ultra-sophisticated, grand-complication watches but also watches which simplify life in the 21st century.

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