How does a moonphase watch work?

Naturally fascinating, moonphase watches often get a lot of attention due to their beautiful designs, intricate artwork and uniqueness. There is no surprise here - the 29.5-day lunar cycle tracking function is a complicated feature to integrate due to the scarcity of quality movements and design challenges that come along with the complication.


It’s important to consider how a moonphase is powered. Automatically, manually or through a quartz battery. Automatic watches generate power from the wearer's wrist whilst they move, while manual powered watches require the wearer to wind the watch through its crown. A quartz movement uses a battery to power the movement. Removing the hassle of having to reset the moonphase each time the watch has not been worn for some time (Read more why we choose to fit our Tidal Moonphase with a Swiss Quartz Ronda).


The moonphase complication is one of the most traditional and oldest horology complication introductions. In order to track the 29.5 day moonphase, designers usually apply 2 identical moons on a display disk. The display disk is driven by either a 59 or 135 tooth wheel. With more teeth offering more accuracy and accountability. 

Artistic Touch

Like all watches, it simply doesn’t do the brand or timepiece justice to strip everything away to the core movement. Horology is about the art of watchmaking, and this is usually celebrated deeply by moonphase designers. When we made reference to the Patek Philippe Ref# 5712/1A-001 in our blog covering the three best moonphase watches. We touched on intricate design touches, such as 22K gold finishings within the watches design, a hand-painted lunar wheel and a fume-sunburst dial. Our Tidal Moonphase features a textured dial, classical hands and curved lugs. When we set out to make the Tidal Moonphase the perfect start to a watch collection, it was through design we were able to bring the Swiss Ronda movement to life, with the Sekoni touch added.

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