Long Bloody Moon
The longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century takes place this Friday, 27th July 2018. The total period of the “blood moon” eclipse that night will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, during which our lunar companion will turn a proverbial red colour. From start to finish, the spectacular celestial event will last nearly 4 hours.
The moon turns deep red or reddish brown instead of going completely dark during eclipses. Clever scientists explain that it’s because some of the sunlight going through Earth’s atmosphere is bent around the edge of our planet to hit the moon’s surface. Earth’s air scatters shorter wavelengths of light towards the green/blue specrum; leaving the longer wavelengths or reds.
Barring cloud cover, it will be visible fully by moonwatchers in much of Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia, the Indian Ocean and Antarctica. Other regions seeing some parts of the eclipse are much of Europe, rest of Asia, Australia, South America, and Pacific.
The eclipse won’t be visible to viewers in North America, except via webcasts.
July’s total lunar eclipse occurs on the same day the planet Mars reaches its opposition, when it will shine at its best in the night sky. This month, Mars will be at its closest to Earth since 2003. After opposition, when Mars will be brightest, it will reach that closest point on 31st July.
My Favourite Moonphase Watches
Of course, even if the clouds obscure the full moon just before the eclipse, you can still get a close representation with moon phase watches. The fascination of these timepieces is increased if the lunar display is driven by mechanical movements as a result of precise micromechanical engineering and artisanal handicraft.
To this end, I submit a few of my favourite watches with moon phase display for consideration:
L.U.C Lunar One by Chopard
CHF 67,500 (US$67,900) in platinum (prices before taxes)
The L.U.C Lunar One flagship model of the L.U.C collection is now available in a new platinum limited edition. Chopard’s perpetual calendar model bearing the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal) has an astronomical moon-phase display on a deep blue sunray-patterned dial.
A deep blue sky, studded with the actual star pattern of the Northern Hemisphere, also features a depiction of the moon that infuses this watch with an unmistakable touch of poetry. The moon display boasts astronomical precision, since it will take 122 years to accumulate a one-day time lag compared with the actual moon and only then will it require re-adjustment.
First presented in 2005 as the Mk 1 version, the L.U.C Lunar One has over the years become the stellar model in the Chopard Haute Horlogerie collection.
This Mk 2 perpetual calendar watch with large date and moon-phase display showcases the full range of watchmaking skills cultivated at Chopard and encompass the very heart of the L.U.C aesthetic. This classic masculine model, governed by elaborate rules of symmetry and optimal legibility that endow it with a perfectly balanced appearance, was introduced in platinum for 2017.
Functions and displays:
Central display of the hours and minutes
Small seconds at 6 o’clock
Perpetual calendar with day, date, month and leap-year cycle
Outsize date display at 12 o’clock
Day/night indicator at 9 o’clock
Moon phases appearing in a rotating aperture (orbital moon) at 6 o’clock
L.U.C All-in-One by Chopard
EUR 374,000 (US$437,000) in platinum (before taxes)
EUR 360,000 (US$420,600) in rose gold (before taxes)
46 mm L.U.C All-in-One watch in 18-carat rose gold featuring a gold hand guilloché nickel colour dial and equipped with a L.U.C mechanical movement with manual winding – L.U.C 05.01-L. The watch is presented on brown alligator strap with brown alligator lining; leather inside and out. Limited edition of 10 pieces. Reference: 161925-5002
The refined, exclusive and ultra-complicated new L.U.C All-in-One from Chopard encompasses 14 indications on its two faces, including extensive calendar and astronomical functions, as well as a tourbillon. It is issued in two limited series of 10 pieces in platinum and 10 pieces in 18-carat rose gold, all bearing the Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal). It smoothlessly combines extreme complexity with the assured and distinctive elegance of the L.U.C collection. A watch endowed with refined details and colours, the L.U.C All-in-One embodies the peak of Chopard’s in-house approach to watch manufacturing, a distillation of exclusive craftsmanship.
Functions and Displays:
Central display of the hours and minutes
Small seconds on a tourbillon at 6 o’clock
Perpetual calendar with 24h indication and day of the week indication at 9 o’clock
Display of the month and leap year at 3 o’clock
Aperture-type large date display at 12 o’clock
Display of the equation of time, power reserve, 24-hour day/night indication, sunrise and sunset times set to Geneva and astronomical orbital moon phase
Andreas Strehler Lune Exacte
CHF 112,000 (US$112,700) in 18k red gold (before taxes)
CHF 125,000 (US$125,700) in platinum (before taxes)
Precise phase of the moon indications on mechanical watches usually deviate from the synodic or mean moon by one day after a couple of hundred years. Better mechanical examples may get the precision up to 122 years before a day variance.
Andreas Strehler’s moon phase mechanical display is precise to two million years. This has won the his Sauterelle à lune perpetuelle watch an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The most precise phase of the moon display can now be set and read extremely accurately. All mechanical moonphase displays have a common problem. As precise as they may be, they cannot be read very precisely. Except at new moon and at full moon, the observer has to guess what the exact phase or age of the moon is. Precise setting of the moon phase is only possible at new moon and full moon.
Andreas Strehler has changed this with the first precise moonphase display on a mechanical watch.
The Lune Exacte can be read and easily set within a precision of three hours, at any time and not just every fortnight, thanks to its new and patent pending mechanism. This high precision moon age indication shows the age of the moon in days and further epochs of three hours.
Moon Age Vernier Scale
On the dial of the watch, there is a conventional moonphase display and the additional age of the moon is shown by a moon vernier scale at six o’clock. On this high precision moon age scale, a red arrow indicates the age of the moon in days. Two red marks on the scale indicate new moon and full moon. A vernier scale on the inner vernier ring increases the precision of the indication to three hours.
- The red arrow shows the age of the moon in days.
- If the red arrow points to a day number in the blue sector of the outer scale, the hours must be read from the blue sector of the inner Vernier ring. The age of the moon accurate to three hours is indicated where the next mark on the Vernier ring aligns with a mark on the outer ring. These incremental hours are added to the days indicated on the outer ring.
- If the red arrow points to a day number in the yellow sector of the outer scale, the hours must be read from the yellow sector on the Vernier scale as described before.
For the purpose of eclipse watching, there is no doubt that the most precise moon age display today on a mechanical watch is on the Andreas Strehler Lune Exacte. For the aficionado of micromechanical engineering, this is the zenith of moonphase precision.
However, for the romantic connoisseur, the deep blue sky, studded with actual constellations of stars above the Northern Hemisphere and the frosted silvery depiction of the moon phase on the Chopard watches are more compelling.
“The true cost of luxury is the choice that it affords…”
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was also CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).