19th Century Moon-Phase Watches Are Back—and More Modern Than Ever

Anachronistic, classic, and the epitome of technical prowess, the function that first appeared on pocket watches in the late 19th century looks as modern as ever.

Photographs courtesy of each manufacturer.

Clockwise from top right: Montblanc's Star Collection, Lange & Shne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase, Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planétarium.

Men have been fascinated with the cosmos since the prehistoric era, and as the recent BaselWorld and SIHH show prove, things haven't changed—elegant-looking moon-phase watches were everywhere.

Anachronistic, classic, and the epitome of technical prowess, the function that first appeared on pocket watches in the late 19th century looks as modern as ever. Out this fall, Montblanc's Star Collection includes a rare dual phase for both hemispheres, while the Lange & Shne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase features a solid-gold dial, 300 laser-etched stars, and over a century of lunar-cycle accuracy, no adjustments necessary. With the limited-edition Midnight Planétarium, Van Cleef & Arpels elevated the marriage of form and function to new heights. Set in sapphire crystal with a black alligator strap, the piece includes 396 parts that track the revolution of the Earth (cast in turquoise) and five other planets (Mercury in serpentine; Jupiter in blue agate) around a rose-gold sun. And, yes, a shooting star tells the time.

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