Patek Philippe’s moonphase complications are an homage to the art of telling time through our only natural satellite.
The Moon is one of the very first ways through which early humans were able to distinguish between the changing of the months. Using the waxing and waning of our lunar satellite, humanity began to use the phases of the Moon as a calendar to seasonal changes 30,000 years ago. The Moon-based “paleo-almanac” helped nomadic tribes to predict the seasons and prepare for hunting and gathering activities accordingly.
In a very real sense, the Moon was Mankind’s very first timekeeper. Patek Philippe continues to cherish this association and tradition through the moonphase complication, which is commonly seen with other calendar indicators such as a complete, annual, or perpetual calendar.
In fact, Patek Philippe was the first company to develop a wristwatch with a moonphase complication in 1925. The Reference 97975 also has the honour of being the first perpetual calendar wristwatch ever made. In a standard display, the complication has two lunar displays on a disc below the dial and driven by a 59-tooth wheel and advances at midnight. Today, modern moonphase designs have a precision to one day in 122 years or more.
Inspired By the Night
Since the Moon is often associated with the feminine persona, moonphase complications are often used in ladies’ watch models in combination with other calendrical information or on its own. For Patek Philippe, the Ref. 7121/200G brings the artistry of the night sky to the case and dial through a stunning combination of sparkling diamonds, polished case and a vivid blue dial.
The watch is housed in the Ladies’ Calatrava case, which features a slim curved bezel over a rounded case middle that flows into the back of the watch. The design reminds one of a smooth and polished pebble while maintaining the elegant proportions of the Calatrava design with a softer touch. The polished and straight lugs are slim and arch gently over the wrist, with screwed-in lug bars that secure the watch strap.
We rarely see a watch with just a moonphase display and Patek Philippe has crafted every detail to match this divine complication. The bezel is set with 132 brilliant-cut diamonds in the watchmaker’s exclusive Dentelle setting. This technique features rows of diamonds in diagonal rows rather than parallel ones, so they can be placed closer, allowing light to cascade and reflect off them in multiple directions. Set on a curved bezel, the double row of diamonds are like an ethereal halo around the twilight-hued dial. Or if one imagines the dial as our blue planet, the moonphase display represents its cycle around the dial and the diamonds are like twinkling stars in the deep.
The Ref. 7121/200G is powered by the Caliber 215 PS LU, a manually-wound movement with a small seconds display over the moonphase indication at 6 o’clock. Like every Patek Philippe watch, this movement bears the Patek Philippe Seal and is finished to the highest standard. It offers a power reserve of 39 to 44 hours and the phases of the moon can be easily changed via a corrector at the base of the case.
An Incandescent Dial
The annual calendar is another useful complication developed by Patek Philippe in 1996 for the wristwatch. Requiring only one calendar change a year, it distinguishes between short and longer months automatically, only requiring adjustment once a year in February. Like many complex mechanical calendars, annual calendars are often presented with a moonphase display that shows the phases of the moon in line with the current date.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 4948 offers a radiant expression of this complication in a decadent 38mm white gold or rose gold case that’s set with diamonds on the bezel, case middle, lugs, crown, and buckle. A total of 388 brilliant-cut diamonds are carefully set by hand, with an iridescent Balinese mother-of-pearl dial that reminds us of the Moon’s lustrous glow at night when it waxes full.
On this dial are three counters that indicate the day of the week and the month as well as the phases of the moon, with a small date indicator framed in gold at 6 o’clock. Applied gold hour markers (in rose gold on the rose gold case and black oxidised white gold on the white gold model) reflect the light of the dial, with leaf-shaped hands filled with Super-LumiNova that ensure legibility in the dark.
The watch is driven by Patek Philippe’s in-house Caliber 324 S QA LU. The Caliber 324 was first presented in the Twenty~4 Automatic, further enhanced with an annual calendar module. The self-winding movement is equipped with a Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring with a full-sized oscillating rotor that keeps the mainspring wound up to 45 hours. It’s further paired with a white alligator strap with gold prong buckle.
A simpler execution of this watch comes in the form of the Ref. 4947, which is available in a 38mm white gold or rose gold case, as well as a steel model. The precious metal models have diamonds set on the bezel, the sides of the case, and encircling the crown. A total of 155 diamonds are set on the watch, with two dial executions – a silvery dial that’s satin-finished vertically and horizontally on the white gold case that looks just like Shantung silk, and a silver opaline dial on the rose gold case.
The Ref. 4947/1A-001 is one of our favourites and a watch that is designed for everyday wear. With a blue “Shantung” dial similar to the white gold model, it also features circular graining on the day and month counters, paired with a polished five-link bracelet that sits delicately on the wrist. The bracelet curves perfectly to the case with softly angled edges and rounded pebble-like surfaces. This is a style that can be seen in many of Patek Philippe’s watches such as the Twenty~4.
A Gem-Set Annual Calendar for Everyone
For the collector who wants an annual calendar watch that can be shared with their partner, one might consider the Ref. 5147G-001. The 39mm white gold watch has a mirror-polished finish and a single row of 62 diamonds on the bezel, within which a deep midnight blue lacquered dial resides. Each dial requires multiple coats of lacquer painted carefully by hand, with the days of the week and month in matching colour. The counters of the dial indicate the day at 9 o’clock and the month at 3 o’clock, with an elegant moonphase display at 6 o’clock.
This watch is designed to be appealing to all; the quarters are marked in white gold Arabic indexes in a block font, and coupled with straight arrow markers in other positions. At the 12 o’clock position is a power reserve indicator that shows how much energy remains in the movement.
The Caliber 324 S IRM QA LU adds one more complication to this watch, which is why the display of this watch differs slightly from the Ref. 4947 and 4948, with the company’s logo under the moonphase display rather than at the top of the dial. This watch pairs perfectly for a formalwear look with matching diamond-set cufflinks, or for a lady heading to an evening soirée. Fitted with a navy blue alligator leather strap, the watch is elegant and sophisticated in style and substance.
Patek Philippe constantly explores new design expressions with iconic complications and movements, delivering watches with class and made for every moment in your life.