Before watches were invented, time-telling was a primitive affair that involved painfully staring at the sun. That eventually transitioned into staring at the shadows it created, which led to the invention of the sundial. Early horologists then moved on to tracking the lunar cycle too, and as they stared at the moon, they learnt how to tell the passing of months. Transitioning from a new moon to a full moon and back again took 29 and a half days, and this has been the magic number which we’ve come to function with even till today.

As members of the 21st century, everything from the time, to the date, day and month can now be indicated via a nifty timepiece on the wrist. Complications started evolving and soon, as a graphical representation of the passage of time, moon phases started migrating onto the wrist too.

However, the true lunar cycle is a little more than 29.5 days, which meant a typical 59-tooth gear that drives a moon disc only has an accuracy of up to 2.5 years. This was not good enough for horologists and as moon phases caught on, so did its accuracy. A more sophisticated 135-tooth gear was soon put into place, which meant an accuracy of up to 122 years.

Showing the current phase of the moon as it is in the sky, moon phase watches add whimsicality and artistic character to an otherwise sterile setting centred heavily on precision. While our lives may no longer be tied as closely to the moon’s orbit, its otherworldly charm remains.

Here, we bring you five of our favourite moon phase watches that combine both horological wizardry with design finesse.