What Is a Moonphase Watch? (And How Does It Work?)

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Written By Alan

Would you believe a G-Shock I was gifted in 2014 by my grandpa started my lifelong journey of a watch geek?

🕑  Last Updated: October 12, 2022

The number of watch variations we can pick from nowadays is huge. Whether we classify them based on their design or functionalities, the choice has never been greater. While some watch types are more popular than others, the truth is that each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to watch complications, there are not many that are more unique and comment-worthy than moonphase watches. They are intricate and interesting, and they offer a look into the celestial world that is not often seen in such a direct way.

But what is a moonphase watch, exactly? How does it work? And finally, what should you keep in mind if you’re thinking of buying one?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about these unique timepieces.

What Is a Moonphase Watch? Definition

A moonphase watch is a type of watch that tells you how much of the moon’s cycle around Earth has been completed, whether it’s a few days or a couple of years.

The dial usually shows an aperture that displays how much of the lunar cycle is complete. A full circle isn’t necessary since we only care about the percentage of time elapsed and not an absolute date.

Zeppelin moonphase watch

Some watches also show a zodiac sign that was being operated at the time. This is often part of an astrological complication that also includes a scale for showing where the moon is in relationship to the stars.

Although these watches were first designed with astronomy enthusiasts in mind, they are now worn by all sorts of people because of their versatility, complexity and beauty. They look good on everyone’s wrist regardless of age or gender because there is no single style category that they belong to.

Types of Movements in Moonphase Watches

Moonphase watches are available in all three movement types:

  • manual-wind
  • automatic
  • quartz (battery-powered)

Automatic watches require little to no effort on your part because their movement is powered by the rotor that turns as you move your wrist throughout the day. The watch will continue to run until it winds down or until its power reserve runs out which can be from 36 hours to a few days.

Quartz models require a battery that, unless it’s solar-powered, needs to be replaced every year or two.

Citizen moonphase watch

Finally, manual mechanical watches are powered by manually winding them with your hand – sort of like turning a watch without batteries in it. This winds up the mainspring which powers the watch until it winds down. Once this happens, you need to pay attention to the position of the moon or re-adjust your watch. This means that people with manual watches must keep track of time and regularly reset their timepieces.

Watch enthusiasts love manual complications in moonphase watches because they require a lot of work from someone. They’re also quite rare and challenging to design, so new models are always met with enthusiasm from people who understand how it works.

How To Set a Moonphase Watch?

To set the moonphase on quartz or automatic model, first find out what position the crown is in. You need to know this because you’ll be turning it in different directions to access different parts of the movement. Different movements have different crown positions, so it’s important to know what direction you need to move it in order to adjust the moonphase complication.

Once you turn the crown in the correct direction, you’ll see the moon disc moving around its scale. The length of this movement varies depending on which watch model you buy. This is the part where you’ll need to decide what day it is in order to properly set your watch according to the current moonphase. If you don’t know, just pick any date – you can adjust it later if it’s not correct.

Once you see where the moon is on its scale, look for a white dot that indicates the day of the month your watch is currently set to. You can move the moon around until the white dot lines up with where it should be in its cycle, which is indicated by another dot on its scale.

Once you’re done, wind your crown back to its initial position and give yourself a pat on the back for successfully setting your watch. If you’re struggling, find someone to help you out, or check the instruction manual that comes with your watch for more detailed instructions.

Why Do People Buy Moonphase Watches?

People buy moonphase watches because they are rare, interesting and very versatile. They look good on everyone’s wrist regardless of age or gender, so there is no category they belong to in terms of style. All kinds of people own them from young hipsters to retired astronomers and everyone in between.

Watch lovers often buy a watch with a complication for its rarity and challenge, so a moonphase watch is a great choice for many. People also enjoy the fact that they have to monitor their watches as well as keep track of what day it is (with help from the moon). There’s something about getting into the habit of having to monitor your watches instead of leaving them to go on autopilot that appeals to people.

A watch with a moonphase complication is something special to own, so if you’re planning on buying one, do it because the watch speaks to you. There are many people with regrets about buying watches that they don’t enjoy or use very often simply because they didn’t understand how they worked beforehand. It’s important to buy a watch that you will use on a regular basis and admire from afar as well.

Pros & Cons of Moonphase Watches

There are a lot of upsides to owning a moonphase watch – some people will tell you there aren’t any cons at all! However, there are some things you need to keep in mind when buying one.

First of all, it’s important to know that setting these types of watches isn’t as simple as it seems. You’ll need to wear your watch regularly so the moonphase complication doesn’t need adjusting too often.

It’s also worth mentioning that wearing a watch with this complication will require a bit more maintenance than owning a standard watch. You’ll need to give it a thorough clean and service every now and then, especially if you wear it regularly – the moonphase moves around constantly while your watch is working, which can affect how accurate it is over time.

All in all, though, there’s no denying that owning a moonphase watch is something special. You won’t be able to stop looking at it once you adjust the moonphase to your current date, so don’t forget to check it regularly!

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