For decades, mechanical watches created specifically for women took a backseat to the ever more important category of men’s mechanical timepieces. Today, however, women have their rightful place in the watchmaking world, as savvy luxury brands design timepieces for women who dress for success and value fine craftsmanship and engineering. Among the most coveted are mechanical moon-phase watches.

Long a symbol of romance and eternity, the moon has enraptured us for time immemorial and served as the inspiration for much folklore and poetry. This may well be why so many watch brands put time and research into the development of specialty watches for women that depict the phases of the moon in increasingly creative renderings. “Women deserve their own complicated watches. The moon phase is the perfect function to offer because it is both visually arresting and mechanically precise,” says Patrik P. Hoffmann, CEO of Ulysse Nardin, which recently released its Classico Lady Luna for women.

Typically, a moon-phase display operates via a small disk within the mechanical watch that slowly rotates, showing the waxing and waning moon cycles. While this system continues to be utilized, new inventions such as the aforementioned Ulysse Nardin model operate differently. The Luna moon-phase timepiece was years in development and is the concept of scientist Ludwig Oechslin, longtime watch innovator for Ulysse Nardin. Famous in the mechanical watch world for creating extremely complex movements, Oechslin uses a technology for the Luna that he first invented for the much more complicated Ulysse Nardin Moonstruck watch.

The alluring Luna watch features a moon-phase sub-dial, which is unlike other watches with a stationary sub-dial moon-phase aperture because it is situated on an inner center sunburst-motif dial and rotates around the center dial (meant to portray the earth) once every 12 hours on its journey to fulfill a complete moon-phase cycle in 29.5 days. The always moving, extremely accurate moon-phase indicator needs an adjustment just once every 3,800 years. The women’s Classico Lady Luna also features an outer dial of mother-of-pearl with eight diamond markers and three inset pearls. (Ancient legend has it that pearls were formed as a result of the moon’s tears falling into the sea.)

Other brands are also bringing captivating new ways to display the moon phases—and advanced designs—on the wrist. Corum, for instance, offers its Admiral’s Cup Legend 38 Mystery Moon timepiece with an endlessly rotating mother-of-pearl dial. Made expressly for women, the watch is a dance of poetry and mystery—the moon-phase display and a sunburst date indication opposite it play a fascinating game of pursuit without ever catching each other. The exclusive Corum-patented complication is a technological advancement that was several years in development. Powering the watch and driving the hour, minute, jumping date, and jumping moon-phase functions is the self-winding Caliber CO384, which is endowed with a 42-hour power reserve. The mother-of-pearl moon-phase disk appears in a satin-brushed metallic sub-dial that is studded with stars, six of which are gem-set.

In addition to offering advanced technological indications, some brands display the moon phase in simply beautiful contemporary designs. Harry Winston has unveiled the automatic Midnight Moon Phase watch, which features a meticulously engraved tree on the dial and a crescent-shaped aperture stretching behind it from 8:00 to 1:00, from which the moon and stars peek out. The delicate design offers an ultrafeminine statement. Other enhancements on today’s finest moon-phase timepieces include adding a motif to the outer sub-dial of the moon-phase aperture (most often stars) or creating superbly decorated moon-phase disks in lacquer, enamel, mother-of-pearl, or semiprecious gems that highlight the eternal allure of the moon.

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