There’s something magical about the moon and its phases. It has fascinated us for centuries, driving man to create all sorts of mechanical apparatus to study it and every detail about its rotation around Earth. One of those instruments is the moonphase complication of a watch, something that captures part of that magic onto our wrists, adding an elegance and sophistication that most other watches lack.
Among the many different watch styles and features, a moonphase complication is one of the most impressive features. Despite not being needed anymore today from a technical point of view, the moonphase complication has gained a lot of popularity across time, due to its allure and the mechanical craftsmanship needed to make one.
Though not extremely complex, it’s that unique charm and fascination that makes the moonphase complication reserved for premium timepieces, out of reach of the average watch enthusiast. But not all of them are. There’s still affordable moonphase watches to be had, and we’ve tried to find a few brands that offer affordable moonphase timepieces for you below.
But first, let’s get to know a little bit more about the moonphase watch.
- What is a Moonphase Watch?
- 15. Parnis Moon Phase Watch
- 14. Casio Men’s AQW101-1AV Watch
- 13. Victorinox Swiss Army Moon Phase Watch
- 12. Junghans Meister Calendar Automatic Watch
- 11. Citizen AV3006-50H Watch
- 10. Certina DS-8 Chronograph Moonphase Watch
- 9. Filippo Loreti Venice Moonphase Silver Mesh Watch
- 8. Bulova 96C26 Moon Phase Watch
- 7. Edox Les Vauberts Moonphase Gir Watch
- 6. Rotary Windsor Multifunction Moonphase Watch
- 5. Frederique Constant Slimline Moon Phase Watch
- 4. Orient Star Automatic Moon Phase Watch
- 3. Citizen Calendrier Moonphase Watch
- 2. Seiko Premier Kinetic Moonphase Watch
- 1. Frederique Constant Classic Business Timer Watch
What is a Moonphase Watch?
Some of the most sought after timepieces among watch collectors and enthusiasts, moonphase watches are nothing but normal watches with an extra function that shows the current phase of the moon.
The Moonphase Mechanism Inside
The way it does that is through a rotating disc on the dial that displays the illuminated portion of the moon, as it would appear seen in real time when looking at the sky. It relays the exact 29.5 day lunar cycle through the moonphase aperture on the dial.
The rotating disc on which the luminous part of the moon is drawn is hidden behind a crescent shaped aperture. This method is known as a “bosom” moonphase complication. Another method to do the same thing, called “radial”, uses an indicator hand to track the lunar cycle. Of course, the most used, as you’ve probably guessed, is the graphical method.
How the Mechanism Works
The way everything works behind what you see on the dial is as follows. The mechanism uses a 59 tooth driving wheel that controls the movement of a disc on which two identical moons are drawn, the ones you see in the aperture.
The disc advances one tooth per day. After a 29.53 day lunar cycle, or synodic month, is completed and the first moon disappears, the second moon appears in the aperture. Multiply the 29.5 day lunar cycle by two (the two identical moons on the disc) and you get the total of 59 teeth of the driving wheel.
This is the earliest moonphase mechanism developed and the one that became standard, but precision wasn’t very good, as it’s off by a full day once every 2 years, 7 and a half months, having to manually adjust it after that period to keep moonphase tracking accurate.
The Astronomical Moonphase watch
Because of that, some brands developed what is called an astronomical moonphase watch, which is a much more precise mechanism, and loses one day after 122 years, a huge difference. The way it was done is by creating a 135 tooth driving wheel to gain that accuracy. As you might expect, these mechanisms are found in the more expensive watches.
This used to be a very practical way for astronomers, scientists, and sailors of the past to track and describe the visible portion of the moon orbiting the Earth, and that’s why moonphase watches were a much needed tool in the past.
With the evolution of technology, moonphase watches became obsolete, but they gained huge appeal and became very popular among watch collectors around the world due to their historic significance.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at 15 affordable moonphase watches you could buy:
15. Parnis Moon Phase Watch
Parnis is a Chinese watch brand, and despite the fact that most people don’t expect much from them, their Moon Phase Watch looks quite good, and comes in at an affordable price of around $100.
The watch is powered by a decent Seagull ST36 mechanical movement, so it’s not that bad at all. The dial is not the most elegant, and it’s got two sub-dials placed non-symmetrically, with the moon phase indicator at the 6 o’clock position.
14. Casio Men’s AQW101-1AV Watch
Probably the cheapest option for a moon watch, and the only digital one, the Casio Men’s AQW101-1AV is a very practical timepiece. It’s what you’d expect from a Casio, after all.
The plastic case is resistant enough for daily wear and tear, and the digital display will offer various information and functions, such as a compass, temperature, the usual time functions such as a alarm, stopwatch, and timer, plus the moon phase data.
The watch comes with a 200 meter water resistance rating, so you can take it with you for a swim, snorkeling, and even diving. It can be a very good tool for those interested in tide information.
Sure, it probably won’t look too good with a fancy suit, but at a little bit over $50, it’s a steal.
13. Victorinox Swiss Army Moon Phase Watch
Victorinox are renowned for their versatile and multifunctional Swiss Army Knife, but that doesn’t mean that’s all they know how to do. Their watches are equally impressive and functional.
Their Swiss Army Watch with moonphase indicator is a superb model with a sleek and simple design. It comes with a 35mm case, which is perfect for most wrists, but may feel small if you’ve got bigger arms. Inside, it’s got a good quartz movement powering the hands and the moonphase wheel.
The dial is minimalistic and elegant, with spear tip hour markers and baton hands, all in a matching silver color. At the 6 o’clock position there’s a circular date aperture, placed symmetrically with the Victorinox logo at the 12 o’clock.
The center of the dial is reserved for the moonphase indicator, which sports a mix of silver and deep blue. At $400, this watch is a very good investment.
12. Junghans Meister Calendar Automatic Watch
A little bit more expensive than what most people would consider affordable, but taking into consideration the normal prices for premium and luxury moonphase watches, this Junghans Meister Calendar Automatic leans a lot towards the affordable side.
Popular for their super simple and elegant timepieces, Junghans is a go-to name if you want premium quality and excellent craftsmanship at decent price tags.
The Meister Calendar Automatic comes with a 40mm stainless steel case and thin bezel that gives it an elegant look. The dial is silver plated and features silver tone indices, with a calendar function that shows days of the week at the 10 o’clock position and the month at the 2 o’clock.
What interests us most, the moon phase, is displayed at the 6 o’clock position, inside a date ring. The timepiece is powered by a Swiss caliber J800.3, an ETA 2824-2 at the base, with a power reserve of 38 hours.
11. Citizen AV3006-50H Watch
The Citizen AV3006-50H is something that looks like coming from the future, so it’s sure to attract views. It’s a stainless steel piece in a 44mm case, with dual coated anti reflective sapphire crystal glass protecting one of the most impressive and uncommon watch dials we’ve ever seen.
It comes in a steel gray, and features a chronograph capable of measuring up to 12 hours, 12/24 hour time indicator, a seconds hand, date window, plus a tachymeter on the outside ring for measuring various things like speed and distance.
But the most interesting thing, its moon phase indicator, is also one of the most interesting moon phase indicators we’ve come across. Located at the 12 o’clock position, it uses orange moons over a blue background. It actually displays the moon in seven phases instead of using a rotating wheel.
The watch is powered by a Japanese quartz Eco-drive movement, so no need to worry about changing the battery.
10. Certina DS-8 Chronograph Moonphase Watch
The heart of this watch is a quartz movement encased in a 42mm stainless steel case, and a superb bezel in a polished yellow gold. The glass is sapphire crystal and protects a good looking silver dial with sunburst finish.
Besides the moon phase indicator, the dial features two other sub-dials in a wonderful arrangement with the former. A date window is tucked nicely at the 4 o’clock position.
9. Filippo Loreti Venice Moonphase Silver Mesh Watch
The Venice Moonphase Silver Mesh is a piece from a novel brand, Filippo Loreti, which despite being new in the watchmaking industry, it gives signs of a promising future.
The watch’s aesthetic is extremely simple but one that ends up being very elegant. It comes with a 40mm case, a 50 meter depth rating, and a price of around $400.
The minimalist dial sports three sub-dials in the same tone as the rest of the dial, while reserving the top spot for the moon phase indicator, situated at the 6 o’clock position. It’s not for nothing that this is the only colored feature of the watch.
8. Bulova 96C26 Moon Phase Watch
The Bulova 96C26 Moon Phase strays away from the usual round watch design and features a superb rectangular dial in a 35mm brushed stainless steel case.
The dial looks a little textured and boasts a soft creamy color on which the navy blue Roman numerals can look amazing.
The overall aspect is pleasing to the eye, while the bottom half of the dial is reserved to the moon phase indicator, with its deep blue background fitting well with the navy blue of the numerals.
7. Edox Les Vauberts Moonphase Gir Watch
Though not as well known, Edox is a Swiss watchmaker, and their Les Vauberts Moonphase Gir comes with a very elegant aesthetic and a unique dial design.
The external ring surrounding the dial features a superb month indicator, with the months printed on the surface and a month hand to indicated them.
There’s a sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position for the weekday, and one at 3 o’clock for the date. The moon phase indicator sits in another sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position.
6. Rotary Windsor Multifunction Moonphase Watch
A very decent looking watch, the Rotary Windsor Multifunction Moonphase, looks classic enough to be a proper dress watch, and comes in a good size, 40mm, with a gold plated steel case.
The dial looks unbelievably great thanks to the big black Roman numerals, and the symmetrically positioned sub-dials. The blue hour, minute, and seconds hands provide a nice contrast with the yellow of the case and bezel.
The moon phase aperture at the bottom has the Rotary logo on it, which helps balance the overall design of the dial.
5. Frederique Constant Slimline Moon Phase Watch
Coming from Frederique Constant, it will be a little more expensive than the rest of the watches on this list, but you know for sure you’re getting some of the highest quality craftsmanship on the market.
The Slim Line Moon Phase is a very elegant timepiece, and can be worn by both men and women. The aesthetic may appeal the feminine world more, but the 42mm case might be a little more suitable to men wrists.
The stainless steel is everywhere on this watch, from the bracelet to the dial, and the simplicity of the dial’s design makes for a wonderful appearance. The moon phase indicator is a very interesting way to contrast the rest of the dial.
4. Orient Star Automatic Moon Phase Watch
Orient are well known for their high quality timepieces, and the Star Classic with Moon Phase makes no exception. It’s a bit more expensive if you think affordability, but it’s well worth the investment.
Besides the moon phase indicator at 6 o’clock, there’s a beautiful skeleton display at the 9 o’clock position, and everything is nicely balanced with the power reserve indicator at the 12 o’clock position.
The blue background and the Roman numerals make for a stunning aesthetic.
3. Citizen Calendrier Moonphase Watch
The Citizen Calendrier is probably the most interesting of the affordable bunch of moon phase watches, with a royal blue dial, impressive day, date, and month indicators, and the moon phase aperture at the bottom.
What’s different from the other options on this list is that the moon phase indicator is digital instead of analog, making for a very interesting twist. Some may not like it, but you can’t deny that it’s a good option at a very good price. It only costs around $300.
2. Seiko Premier Kinetic Moonphase Watch
The Seiko Premier Kinetic Moonphase is one of the most popular choices when it comes to affordable moon phase watches. It features a sporty design and a very masculine look.
The charming dial comes with a classy white background, and easy to read Roman numerals, 24 hour complications, and a sophisticated moon phase indicator at the 12 o’clock position.
Inside the 42.5mm stainless steel case, we’ve got an in-house Kinetic automatic movement from Seiko, which is an interesting hybrid between the quartz and the automatic movements. This means your hand movements will charge a capacitator instead of winding a spring.
1. Frederique Constant Classic Business Timer Watch
Our favorite pick for the best affordable moon phase watch had to be the Frederique Constant Classic Business Timer. It’s got the elegance we look for, and several very interesting details that you won’t find in other watches.
The clean and simple dial, roman numerals, black hands, well balanced day and date sub-dials, minimalist moon phase indicator at 6 o’clock, and the outer minute and seconds ring all make for a very elegant aesthetic, suitable for any kind of formal occasion.
The case size is just right at 40mm, and the movement is only a Swiss quartz, but it will do for the price, because affordability is what we were looking for in the first place.
There aren’t many options for low priced moon phase watches, as most of them would break beyond what most people would consider affordable, but we found these ones and they’re the best in our opinion. Which one is your favorite?