During the horological history spanning 3 centuries, we’ve never had such a big pool of watch types to pick from as we have today.
If you’ve been looking for a unique-looking watch with features that go beyond the standard, a moonphase watch is a way to go. Apart from looking stunning, moonphase watches offer a unique way to track the phases of the moon.
Contrary to popular belief, timepieces with the moonphase function don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, there are many affordable options available if you know where to look.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the best moonphase watches under $500. All models reviewed below come from reputable watchmakers and enjoy four-to-five-star ratings across the watch community.
So whether you’re in the market for your first moonphase watch or are just curious about what’s new out there that won’t break the bank, read on for some top picks!
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Moonphase Watches Under $500 (Top 3 Overview)
What Is a Moonphase Watch?
Before we have a closer look at all the selected models, it’s worth knowing what a moonphase watch really is and how it works.
A moonphase watch is a type of timepiece that tracks the phases of the moon. The most common moonphase watches have a disk with a lunar cycle that’s used to indicate the current phase of the moon.
The moonphase complication is actually quite simple and only requires a few extra components compared to a regular watch.
The heart of the moonphase complication is a disk with two half-moon cutouts. This disk sits on top of the watch movement and turns around once every 29.5 days – the same amount of time it takes for the moon to go through its full cycle.
As the disk turns, the half-moon cutouts will line up with a small window on the watch face, revealing either a crescent moon or a full moon.
Moonphase Watches Under 500 Bucks (Top 3 Reviewed)
We open up the list with what we consider the best-value moonphase watch under $500 discussed in today’s article – Zeppelin 7036-1.
If you’re a fan of quality German-made watches that won’t break the bank, then you’ll love Zeppelin. The company is well-known for its vintage-inspired timepieces that come at an attractive price point.
The 7036-1 moonphase watch is no different. It features a 40mm case made from stainless steel that measures just 10mm in thickness. The pretty much standard sizing makes it a great option for people of varying wrist sizes. The watch’s caseback is solid which is rather unsurprising for a quartz watch.
The leather strap is an expression of classic elegance and it comes with standard buckle closure.
The Zeppelin 7036-1 is a timepiece for men who expect more from a watch than just accurate timing. This model has been equipped with the moon phase indicator, which is sure to interest gardeners, anglers and hunters. It also has two additional sub-dials on each side of the moon phase window that show both the current day of the week and the month.
Describing the dial as pretty busily arranged would be far from an overstatement. Apart from the moonphase and date sub-dials, the timepiece also features large Breguet hour markers, as well as minute indices on the outer rim. Squeezed in are also Zeppelin logo and the “Made in Germany” lettering, positioned at 12 and 6 o’clock, respectively.
The watch is powered by a quartz movement, which is to be expected given the price point. It’s important to note that while the watch is German-made, the movement is Swiss. The exact caliber used in this watch is the ultra-reliable Ronda 706B, delivering an excellent accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month.
What’s also important to note, the watch provides excellent protection against cracks thanks to the sapphire crystal glass. It’s hardly a secret that this is the most enduring type of watch glass.
Last but not least, the watch comes with a modest water resistance rated at just 30m. In other words, exposing it to water isn’t the best idea.
If you’re shopping on a tight budget but still want to get a quality moonphase watch that will look way above its moderate price tag, the Fossil FS5906 is a great option.
Fossil watches are considered some of the best-value American timepieces in the low-to-mid budget sector and the FS5906 is a perfect example of why.
The watch is for those of you who prefer the all-stainless steel design of a moon watch.
The model comes with a 44mm stainless steel case that wears a bit bigger than the Zeppelin model but is still manageable for people with most wrist sizes. The thickness is exactly the same – 10m. The case itself is silver-tone but the watch bezel is gold-tone. This, combined with the two-tone bracelet with exact same color scheme, makes for a very elegant and sophisticated look. The bracelet is made of 3 links and comes with a push-button deployment clasp.
- Learn more: Fossil Brand Review
The Fossil FS5906 has a black dial with luminescent gold-tone hands and hour indices. Akin to the Zeppling model, the day and date functions are both included, as is the moonphase function. The moon phase sub-dial is located at 6 o’clock, while the day and date indicators are at 9 and 3 o’clock, respectively. Also, the outer rim features minute markers.
As far as durability is concerned, the watch is equipped with scratch-resistant mineral glass and has a water resistance of 50m.
Just like most Fossil watches in this price basket, this one is powered by an accurate Japanese quartz movement.
Citizen is one of the most popular watch brands in the world and it’s known for its innovative Eco-Drive technology that powers its watches using natural or artificial light instead of a battery.
The Attesa BU0060-09H is one of the best-looking moonphase watches that the brand has to offer that utilizes the Eco-Drive movement. It’s a part of the company’s high-end line of watches and it certainly looks the part.
The Attessa collection by Citizen is full of timepieces made from titanium and this one is a worthy representative.
Size-wise, it’s another moonphase watch under $500 that can be described as one-size-fits-all. The titanium case has a diameter of 42mm and measures 12.2mm in thickness. The watch comes with a black leather strap with a deployment clasp and a solid caseback.
- Learn more: Citizen Brand Review
Moving on to the face, it comes with a bold, some might say futuristic design. Considering the fact that it has as many as 4 sub-dials, it’s arguably the busiest watch face from all discussed in the article. Going clockwise, at noon o’clock we have a sub-dial indicating the date, at 3 o’clock a sub-dial showing the current month, at 6 o’clock a moonphase sub-dial, and finally, at 9 o’clock a sub-dial for the day of the week.
The dial features silver-tone hands and baton indices indicating hours – all glowing in dark. Additionally, there are minute markers on the outer rim.
Another standout feature of this timepiece is the sapphire crystal glass – without a doubt the most scratch-resistant type of glass used in watchmaking.
As already mentioned, Citizen Attesa is powered by the Eco-Drive quartz movement. Thanks to this technology, you don’t have to worry about the watch ever running out of juice as long as it’s exposed to light on a regular basis. In fact, some users report as long as 2 decades of hassle-free use.
The Attesa BU0060-09H is also water resistant to 100m.
Still Looking? 4 Bonus Moonphase Watches Under $500
We hope that one of the watches above managed to catch your eye but, in case you’re still undecided, we’ve prepared 4 bonus picks.
Again, these models come from respected brands and none of them exceeds the $500 limit.
If you’re a fan of affordable-but-quality Swiss watches, there are not many better brands to consider than Tissot.
Tissot T1224231604300 is easily one of the best-looking moonphase watches under $500 that the brand has to offer.
The watch belongs to Tissot’s Carson collection which focuses mainly on beautiful dress timepieces. The model presents a chic and elegant combination of a blue leather strap with a silver-tone stainless steel case. The timepiece comes in a pretty standard size for a dressy type, measuring 40mm in diameter and just 8mm in thickness while the strap has a classic buckle closure.
- Learn more: Tissot Brand Review
Gentlemen will surely like the luxurious character of the Tissot watch highlighted by the depth of the blue color of the polished dial covered with ultra-durable sapphire glass. The dial is definitely on the minimalistic side, with Roman numerals as hour markers giving the watch a vintage look. The hands are also very elegant and minimalistic, matching the silver tone of the hands.
The moonphase sub-dial is located at the 6 o’clock position while at 3 o’clock there’s also a date window.
Coming from a reputable Swiss watchmaker, it’s no wonder the watch is powered by a Swiss-made movement. The timepiece utilizes a quartz caliber in the form of ETA F05.841, providing excellent longevity and accuracy of +/- 10-15 seconds per month.
The watch has sapphire crystal glass and can withstand depths of up to 50m.
Often mistakenly considered to be a subsidiary of Tissot, Mathey-Tissot is actually an independent brand with a long and rich tradition in watchmaking – and it’s way more affordable than Tissot.
While Mathey-Tissot watches might not be enjoying the same popularity and renown as they were in the 20th century, they still provide excellent value and are one of the best Entry-Level options in the Swiss watch sector.
The model you see above belongs to the Edmond collection which lists quite a few ultra-elegant dress timepieces. Due to the inclusion of a moonphase complication and 4 sub-dials in total, Mathey-Tissot H1886RPBU might not be considered a proper dress watch by some but we believe it still looks refined enough to pass as one.
The timepiece has an elegant case made from rose gold stainless steel. The size is still pretty standard for a dress watch – it has a diameter of 42mm and measures 11mm in thickness. The timepiece comes with a blue leather band that combines neatly with the dial in the same color. The band has a butterfly buckle closure.
- Learn more: Mathey-Tissot Brand Review
The blue dial is far from minimalistic, with a wavy background pattern and as many as 4 sub-dials adorning it. The moonphase complication is, again, located at the 6 o’clock position while the other 3 sub-dials – all indicating dates (month, date & day) – are placed symmetrically at the 12, 3 & 9 o’clock positions. The hour and minute hands are rose gold-plated and point to large Roman numerals while there are also white minute markers around the outer rim.
As is the case with a large chunk of Mathey-Tissot watches, this one is also powered by a Swiss-made quartz movement. It shouldn’t lose/gain more than 15 seconds per month.
Crucially, the Edmond model comes with scratch-resistant sapphire glass. On the waterproofing front, the model can withstand a pressure of up to 50m.
Many people will find it surprising that Peugeot – a name mostly associated with cars – is also engraved on quality timepieces.
The Peugeot watchmaker has been around since 1957. The brand gained recognition in the industry thanks to ultra-affordable 18kt-gold watches. After the rise in gold prices in the 1970s, Peugeot decided to focus on more affordable stainless steel models and continues the strategy up to this day.
Most Peugeot watches on offer today are the epitome of elegance and look beyond their moderate price tags. This one isn’t an exception to the rule.
- Learn more: Peugeot Brand Review
The 712S is a ladies’ watch and is one of our favorite models from the brand. It comes with a stylish Tonneau case made from stainless steel. Unsurprisingly for a women’s timepiece, it’s ultra petite. The case measures just 20mm in diameter and 8mm in thickness. The mesh bracelet is also made from stainless steel and comes with a sliding clasp.
Although the dial might seem white in the image above, it’s in fact silver-tone – and so are the hands and hour markers. A beautiful moonphase window spreads from 10 to 2 o’clock while there’s also a small date indicator positioned at 6 o’clock, just above the Peugeot logo. Protecting the face from cracks and scratches is a mineral crystal.
This Peugeot moonphase watch is powered by a Japanese quartz movement and can withstand water pressure of up to 30m.
Orient Orient RA-AK0001S10A
Last but not least, closing the list of best moonphase watches under $500 is this elegant and stylish timepiece from Japanese watchmaker Orient.
For many enthusiasts, Orient is the go-to brand for affordable automatic watches based on super-reliable Japanese calibers. The company is one of very few in this price sector that manufactures all movements in-house, adding an extra touch of quality to the final product.
Orient has a whole line of moonphase watches known under the “Sun & Moon” moniker. The RA-AK0001S10A, referred to as the Sun & Moon Version 4, is one of the latest and most stylish additions to the collection.
- Learn more: Orient Brand Review
It’s a men’s timepiece that comes in pretty standard sizing, with a case diameter of 42.5mm and a thickness of 14mm. The rose gold case is made from stainless steel and has a see-through screw-down case back, allowing you to peek at the intricate workings of the automatic movement. The band, on the other hand, is made from genuine leather and has a comfortable deployment clasp.
The Sun & Moon Version 4 features an elegant white face with a unique placement of sub-dials. The moonphase indicator is positioned between 5 and 6 o’clock, a date window between 7 and 8 o’clock, and a day of the week indicator between 9 and 11 o’clock. All are super close proximately to each other, which can be a bit of an eyesore for some. The watch has ultra-thin arrow-shaped hands pointing to Breguet-style hour markers, with dotted minute markers around the outer rim.
As already mentioned, the watch is powered by an in-house Japanese-made caliber.
On the durability front, there’s much to appreciate. It’s unusual for watches in this price range to offer sapphire crystal glass but this one does! It’s also water-resistant up to 50m.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that the list of 7 best moonphase watches under 500 bucks helped you find a timepiece that meets your needs and preferences.
Before we wrap things up, let’s quickly go through some frequently asked questions about this unique complication.
What is the best moonphase watch?
The best moonphase watch is the one that fits your budget and style preferences. Any of the watches on our list would make a great choice since all provide excellent value for money and none exceeds the $500 mark.
Are moonphase watches accurate?
Whether a moonphase watch is accurate will be determined by a number of factors, such as the type and quality of the movement, and if you use them with proper care. Generally speaking, however, most moonphase watches are accurate enough for everyday use.
How do you set a moon phase watch?
The process of setting a moonphase watch will vary depending on the model. For some, you may need to use the crown to advance or backward the moonphase indicator. For others, there may be a pusher button on the side of the case that you use to adjust the complication.
As always, we recommend that you consult the user manual that came with your watch to learn the specific instructions on how to set the moonphase indicator.
What does the moon complication do on Apple watch?
The moon complication on the Apple Watch is a digital representation of the current phase of the moon. It doesn’t serve any practical purpose but many find it to be a fun and interesting addition to the watch face.
Why are moonphase watches so expensive?
Moonphase watches are often seen as mid-to-high-end timepieces because of the intricate mechanics that go into creating the moonphase display. In addition, many people consider moonphase watches to be works of art, due to their intricate designs and attention to detail.
All of these factors combine to make moonphase watches some of the pricier watch types on the market.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get your hands on one.
As this article proves, there are many affordable moonphase watches available if you know where to look.
There you have it – our top picks for the best moonphase watches under $500.
The truth is, there are many great timepieces out there that come with this handy complication but these three really stood out to us. What the above list proves, however, is that these unique timepieces don’t have to cost an arm and a leg and it’s indeed possible to find a moonphase watch that’s both stylish and affordable.
What’s your favorite moonphase watch from the list? Do you own a moonphase watch already? If so, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below!