5 of the best budget moonphase watchesTom Austin
Timekeeping has its roots in astronomy, as our ancestors looked to the skies to calculate the passing of time according to the movement of celestial bodies across the sky. Appearing in the 17th century, we began to be horologically interested in the phases of the Moon, with moonphase complications shrinking their way into pocket watches, and eventually into some of the high-end wristwatches too. Moonphase complications are no longer the reserve of only the most prestige wristwatches, with a plethora of more budget-friendly options to whet your astro-horological appetite.
Oris Artelier Complication
Originally introduced in 1991, the Artelier Complication became a classic alternative to Oris’ more sport-focused line-up. Redesigned in 2017, the watch took on an even more elegant look, bought in with a slender 40mm case, thin bezel, and slender lugs, with the main focus being the silver dial. Paired with rose gold hands and indices, the time display is large and legible, incorporating a moonphase display above the Oris branding at 12 o’clock. The movement is a modified Sellita SW 200-1, adapted to add a date, 24-hour dial and of course, a moonphase indicator, visible through an exhibition caseback. The multiple features and brand cache at a price point of A$3,800 make for an accessible moonphase watch.
Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow
Moonphase complications are usually confined to a small, sub-dial-sized window, with most watchmakers taking the subtle route – but not here. Much like it’s Worldglow sibling, the C1 Moonglow makes the complication the main event, utilising the whole dial area as a moonphase display. The C1 Moonglow is a 40.5mm, stainless-steel watch, powered by a modified Sellita SW220 movement. The layered and three-dimensional dial brings the watch to life, with multiple finishes such as nickel plating, DLC coating and excellent use of SuperLuminova to make the watch equally as captivating at night. The star of the show are the huge, stamped Moon discs, which rotate around the circumference of the dial and display each phase of the Moon accurately for the next century or so. Just as unique is the hidden date function, framing the outer rim of the dial. The Moonglow is an excellent contemporary take on this classic complication and comes in at A$3,900.
Muhle Glashütte Teutonia IV
Presented in 2019, the Teutonia IV is the moonphase offering from German independent Mühle Glashütte. Positioned as an affordable, yet classy and timeless watch, the Teutonia IV boasts a case size of 41mm, produced in highly polished stainless steel. Its classic proportions are accentuated by the long, straight lugs and large crown, appropriately paired with the finely-grained dial. The blued lancette handset tonally matches the moonphase indicator, which is just large enough to not be intrusive at 6 o’clock, featuring a fully detailed lunar surface. Price: A$4,350
Longines Master Collection ref. L2.909.4.78.3
Longines’ Master Collection was released in 2005, bringing with it an affordable range of luxury dress watches that incorporated an intricate complication like the moonphase. Ever since, they have somewhat gone under the radar, just recently getting some attention with the engraved-dial Small Seconds models. Another simple standout from the Master Collection is the ref. L2.909.4.78.3, a 40mm stainless steel watch, with a pebble-style case, thick, draping lugs, and a highly polished finish. There are a number of dial and strap combinations, but our favourite is the sunray blue which radiates from the centre of the dial. Surrounded by a small date wheel, the moonphase indicator nestles in at 6 o’clock, complete with a starry sky. Altogether, the Longines makes for an excellent package, priced at A$4,600.
Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture
Known for their timeless, though not necessarily boundary-breaking, designs, Frederique Constant carefully positions their watches to people who want some refined elegance, but not a price that’s difficult to swallow. The Slimline Moonphase is a perfect example of this. At 42mm, it’s large for a dressy piece, though makes up for it somewhat with the 11.2mm height. A simple moonphase sub-dial with a date sits at 6 o’clock, powered by the in-house FC-705 calibre. The Slimline Moonphase is priced at A$5,600, which is a commendable effort for an in-house movement-equipped watch, though it may not stay this way for long, as the brand is looking up-market.