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Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moon Phases - Two Beautiful Complications

06 December 23

Patek Philippe has long been known as a master of complex wristwatches. Here, we explore two iconic Patek Philippe complications; the moon phase and the annual calendar.

Patek Philippe is renowned for its mastery of complications, and has pioneered the development of many complex mechanisms within the small confines of a wristwatch. Two examples of this are the moon phase and the annual calendar. One of the earliest known complications, the moon phase was first incorporated into a wristwatch by Patek Philippe in 1925, and has since become a staple of the manufacture’s collections. In contrast, the annual calendar is a much more modern complication. Patek Philippe launched the patented Annual Calendar in 1996, designed to provide a stepping stone between a standard date display and the complexity of a perpetual calendar. The annual calendar and the moon phase are often combined to create beautiful and practical timepieces.

The Patek Philippe moon phase has become iconic for its whimsical moon and stars design. The phase of the moon is displayed via a rotating disc within a precisely designed aperture. The disc is crafted from a sliver of corundum crystal, upon which gold is condensed in a design of two moons floating amid the stars. As the disc rotates, the curved edges of the aperture slowly reveal and then conceal the moon, in time with its progression across the sky. The lunar cycle takes 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds in total, and to remain accurate the moon phase usually needs to be readjusted every three years.

The moon phase is a natural partner to the annual calendar complication, providing a sense of completeness alongside day, date and month displays. The annual calendar tracks the date, automatically correcting for months with only 30 days, so that the watch only needs manual adjustment once per year, at the end of February. Patek Philippe launched this complication in 1996 to bridge the gap between a standard date display, which requires adjustment for any month shorter than 31 days, and a perpetual calendar, which takes both the shorter length of February and the vagaries of leap years into account. The annual calendar offers a user-friendly and accessible complication.

The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moon Phase Ref. 5396R-015 is a classic example of these two combinations working together. The day and month appear in apertures at the top of the dial, with the date at 6 o'clock. The moon phase nestles at the bottom of the dial, intersecting with the date and surrounded by a 24-hour display. Given the amount of information presented, the dial remains clean and legible thanks to the simple baton hour markers and a carefully designed layout. Visible through the exhibition case back, the Caliber 324 S QA LU 24H/303 is precisely engineered to fit all of this functionality into a slim case, only 38.5mm diameter and 11.2mm in height.

By comparison, the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moon Phase Ref. 5205G-013 represents a more contemporary take on these complications. This model presents the day, date and month in three apertures arranged in an arc at the top of the dial. The moon phase appears in a sub-dial at 6 o'clock, alongside a 24-hour indicator. Bold applied hour markers combine with delicate rings around the hour track and sub-dial to create an aesthetic reminiscent of Art Deco designs. The case has a number of subtle features, from a slightly concave bezel to skeletonised lugs, which lend this watch its own character. Powering the watch’s impressive functionality, the wearer can watch the Caliber 324 S QA LU 24H/206 at work through a sapphire crystal case back. 

Patek Philippe has long combined modernity with tradition, cutting edge technology with timeless style. Throughout history, humans have told the time by following the movements of the heavens. The wearer of a Patek Philippe moon phase continues this ancient tradition every time they glance at their wrist. Meanwhile, the annual calendar epitomises Patek Philippe's endless striving towards new innovations. This is a truly contemporary complication, designed to suit the busy lifestyles of modern watch enthusiasts. Together, these complications embody the delicate balance that has made Patek Philippe's collections so enduring.

 If you would like to explore these references or the wider Patek Philippe collection, we invite you to contact Prestons Wilmslow by telephone, online contact form or by visiting us in-store. One of our Patek Philippe specialists will be on hand to guide you through any enquiry you may have.

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