Patek Philippe Moonphase

Sep 05, 2021,16:05 PM

Vintage Patek references up until the 3970/3940 boasted a very rich enamel moonphase with handcrafted accompanying gold stars and moon disc. For reference, slide 2 of this post shows a 2499 moonphase and slide 1 is of a 3970 moonphase. The enamel moonphase of the 2499 is a very rich navy blue that has a wonderful and radiating texture. The blue is engraved and filled with the gold stars and moons so they don’t sit on top of the disc. It’s one of the best moonphase discs I have ever seen in my life.

The 3970 standardises the moonphase creation process. No longer was the disc engraved or the stars shaped in by hand. This is evident in the giant leap in tolerances of star shapes and lines. It has become significantly more uniform from the 3970 onwards. Enamel is no longer used and the blue shade for the background is very dark compared to the rich tones of the enamelled predecessors. The moon and stars of both the 3970 and the 2499 are mirror polished, which indeed was the case for all Patek references with moonphase pre 5970.

The stars on the 3970 differ dramatically from the 2499 with very poignant thick black borders sitting on top of the moonphase disc. The borders hold the mirror polished gold stars within a recessed area just below it. This became the leading style for the stars until the later production stages of the 5970. This means icons such as the 5004, 5020 and the likes all followed the 3970 configuration. The 5970 served as a transitional reference for moonphase production. Earlier models had the same configuration as the 3970. Later on the stars lost their strong prominent border and were finished, along with the moon, in a frosted fashion, adding an exciting layer of depth. I’m inclined to say the transition happened with the introduction of the 5970j though I am not yet prepared to write off the existence of a 5970r with the frosted configuration. For modern/post vintage moonphase discs, it is cut from a wafer of corundum crystal. Gold is condensed onto the moonphase disc via a vacuum process through a photographic mask to deliver their shapes.

Every Patek wristwatch with moonphase pre 2499 had a similar enamelled moon disc to the 2499. This includes 97975, 96, 130 (not a typo), 1526, 1518, 1527, 1591, 2438 and 2497. Post 2499 introduction had a handful of references follow suit such as the 3449, 3448 and 3450. The style of the moon disc from the 3970/3940 followed every reference until the later stages of the 5970 for perpetual chronos. It is worth noting that most white metal calendars pre early 2000s like the 2499, 3448, 3940, 3970, 3974, 5004, and 5020 had a yellow gold moonphase for a white metal cases. This changed around the late 90s/early 00s. Following the 5970 every reference followed suit of the new frosted moonphase style with small exceptions.

Annual calendars went through a transitional period with the 5146. Early models featured the black border for the stars as seen in the 3970. Later in the 5146’s production it changed to the frosted configuration. This change was cemented with the arrival of the 5205 in 2010 which all came with the frosted moonphase interpretation. With perpetual only wristwatches, we also see a transitional phase from 3970 style to late 5970 style moon phases with the 5140 introduced in 2006. Just as with the 5146, earlier variants carried on the 3970/3940 tradition most noticeable in the strong black borders of the stars. Later down the line the moonphase configuration was switched to that of the borderless star frosted style.

In Patek’s current catalogue every wristwatch with moonphase follows the frosted configuration with the exception for the 6002. The 6002 marks the first return of enamel to a Patek moonphase in almost 30 years. “The circumference of the moon is elaborated in relief and enclosed with enamel”. But where things get cool, and I mean really cool, is the moon. To artistically depict the moon’s cratered surface, white, grey and black enamel are used in graduations. It is the best moon I have ever seen and one that is the product of painstakingly patient craftsmanship.

The 5575 and 5102/6102 also represent an interesting evolution of the PP moonphase. However, as they are isolated to very few references, I thought it would be better to focus on them individually at a later date. 

All pictures and watches are mine bar the 6002g. 

2499j 4th series Tiffany

3970j 1st series

2497j 2nd series

2499j 4th series Tiffany

2499j 1st series

5970j champagne Roman 12 - my unique commission

2499j 4th series Tiffany

2499j 4th series Tiffany

5004p Sapphire - my unique commission

2497j 2nd series




5970p EC unique commission


2499j 1st series

6002g Picture from Patek Philippe

3970j 1st series

This message has been edited by FabR on 2021-09-05 17:05:05

More posts: 1518152615271591175th collection2438249724993449345039403970397450045020514051465205532053965575597060026002Gcalatravacomplicationsgrand complications

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Many thanks H_A for this very interesting post on moon phases ! By reading it and seeing your photos, I am literally

 By: GLau : September 5th, 2021-16:17
“over the moon” 🌝! Had no idea that there is such mystery behind this function. Do you have any comments on the 5575 moon vs the 6002’s ? Also, please share more information about your commissioned 5004.

Really pleased you enjoyed this post!

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:07
I let the 5575 and 6102 out as they are quite special moonphase designs that deserve a more in-depth exploration. Essentially the 5575 and 5102/6102 are quite isolated cases. The 5575 is a very special moonphase with its photorealistic depiction but it do... 

Thanks my friend for such a beautifully-written and informative post -- besides of course the pleasure of seeing these unique pieces you have commissioned, this is simply the best article I have read on this specific theme!

 By: FabR : September 5th, 2021-17:03
If I had to give ONE reason why I love Patek, it is their unique attention to details....The level of sophistication they have reached in representing the moonphase on these references, and how it evolved over time, is simply breathtaking! If someone wond... 

Wow! Thank you for such a beautiful comment and indeed for the Editors Picks promotion

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:09
It was quite a gruelling affair writing this post as there were so many transitional references. So many exceptions to the rule. But I’m glad you found this a helpful article on the topic. Despite the difficulties, I really enjoyed this project

All amazing...

 By: mdg : September 5th, 2021-18:01
...but the 2499j first series really stands out for me because of the orientation of the date numerals. I wish they did that on all of their calendar watches. Plus, it looks like the stars were hand-painted...very beautiful.

What’s even better is that they engraved the enamel to fill in the stars!

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:17
They really really pop against the dial. Truly something special. I would love for them to make a return. At least on the special moonphase watches. Nice to see enamel did grace the 6002 moon!

Many thanks for this very interesting, thoughtful written post

 By: MTR : September 5th, 2021-18:28
full of information and impressive pictures. One question to the first picture (2499j 4th series Tiffany): are there some scratches on the stars or is this just due the light? All the best Thomas

It really is!

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:17

Many thanks for this very inspiring post which obviously resonates a lot with my taste

 By: Mike H : September 6th, 2021-01:11
To my eyes moon phase is a very beautiful and poetic complication (maybe not the most useful but the nicest imho). And since I agree with you PP makes the most beautiful moon phase obviously I tried to capture their beauty... I'll start with my Wonder Wat...  

Such a nice collection of incredible watches.

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:21
You really do have superb taste. That 3448 especially is really something! Thank you also for the pictures!

Many thanks for the very kind words

 By: Mike H : September 11th, 2021-05:10
I must admit that I consider myself lucky to own them, that 3448 that I call my Wonder Watch is my pride, but it us just nothing compared with your jaw dropping collection. Your collection of 2499 is totally absolutely stunning incredibly amazing 😳

Thank you Mike. Very kind of you to say

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 14th, 2021-03:16

Thank you for this informative post

 By: Mario : September 6th, 2021-04:06
This is why I love the Purists always something interesting you never would of thought about pops up.

Thank You!

 By: baufoam : September 6th, 2021-06:21
This information is SO interesting. The early moon phase watches with the blue enamel are fantastic. Thank you for posting this!

Dear HA, thanks for the very informative post on the various versions of moonphase.

 By: joenghenry : September 6th, 2021-10:44
Regrettably all my PP references belong to post 3970 era, hence the gold evaporated moon/ stars by photographic mean, and less poetic…

My pleasure! Nothing regrettable about it! Still special in its own unique way.

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:24
I mean of course enamel is truly something, but a nice frosted moon or a polished one with stars with black borders? They’re cool buddy. I would love to see a return to enamel for high end pieces like in the 6002

Very kind of you to say. My pleasure mate

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 7th, 2021-10:24

Great topic and beautiful pictures!

 By: w220 : September 6th, 2021-13:26
From my 5146J: 5140G: ...  

I concur fully + 💯 !

 By: Mike H : September 13th, 2021-20:48

Thank you!! ❤️

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 14th, 2021-03:16

Dear HA - for me the moonphase function of Patek perpetuals and perpetual chronos is their least practical complication, HOWEVER in many ways

 By: patekova : September 10th, 2021-19:08
it is the most appealing and romantic of the complications. I imagine only a tiny percentage of watch enthusiasts follow and use the moonphase function for a practical purpose in their every day lives. Yet, it adds true artistry (especially the enameled v...  

1) firstly, what a watch!

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 14th, 2021-03:17
2) secondly, yep, what a fantastic watch 3) thirdly, thank you my friend for the super kind words. Really means a lot to me!!

Thank you for the compliment. Was very surprised and happy to find a 3448 in this condition. I look forward to your next scholarly article!

 By: patekova : September 14th, 2021-10:33
If I you don’t’ mind my suggesting, I have an idea for a topic. Most collectors fall into the vintage OR modern/current categories. You have a cross section of the best of vintage (eg 2499), modern (eg 5970) and current (eg 5270). It would be interesting ... 

Hi Patekova, your PC

 By: GLau : September 14th, 2021-03:23
is lovely, understated and super elegant ! 👍

Thank you for the compliment! I totally get what your saying. When I look at the image I posted even though it is my watch, I don’t think “wow this is really beautiful”.

 By: patekova : September 14th, 2021-16:39
It does look very understated. Some might say a bit plain. In person however it is a different story. So far I have not been able to fully capture its beauty in a photo. I guess it is much better to look great in person than only look great in a photo. Be... 

It is a real challenge to take a good picture of this one...

 By: amanico : September 14th, 2021-16:44
My poor attempt: ...  

You are too kind!

 By: amanico : September 14th, 2021-19:17

You are definitely right, pictures hardly do justice to the Wonder Watch

 By: Mike H : September 16th, 2021-17:05
Yet your pics are quite nice my friend

Big big congrats on your Wonder Watch, always nice to see this beauty ;-)

 By: Mike H : September 16th, 2021-17:54
Your 3448 must be a 4th series I assume (after 1978 am I correct ?) I fully agree on all what you say about the moon phase complication: most people even do not bother to set it but just want to see this romantic complication on their wrist. I'll add some... 

As promised here are some more pics of mine…

 By: Mike H : September 16th, 2021-18:16
The enamel moon phase is just incredible, small date ring and pearl minute divisions from the early versions, and the special PP crown only found on the earliest ones… ...  

Can’t argue there

 By: Horology_Ancienne : September 19th, 2021-22:52