Amidst The Moon And The Stars

Schaumburg Watch Moon Two

Our neighbour the moon: Since time immemorial it's always been the object of fascination and myth to mankind, and even more so to those who would endeavour to capture and mimic its monthly cycle on the face of a watch. For more than two centuries it has inspired many miniature mechanical interpretations, and collectors continue to be drawn in by its magnetic lure.

As a mechanical novelty the moon phase is one of watchmaking's most enduring and best loved complications, and in recent years a horological space race has seen many new solutions in how it is displayed, as well as making galactic leaps forward in accuracy. 

The Perpetual Moon Collection by Schaumburg Watch of Rinteln in Germany has been around for a while now, but its dramatic and realistic moon phase display remains one of the most distinctive and alluring in production. It's available in a number of variants, but essentially there are two base models, the Moon One, and the Moon Two, and the principal difference between them is the position of the moon display - whether it is above at the 12, or below at the 6.

Whichever configuration, the moon display is not subtle, and at the mid point in the lunar cycle its gloriously oversized, fully revealed, photorealistic moon is a really eye catching and captivating spectacle, particularly when its luminous surface begins to assume a pale green glow in low light conditions, when it becomes almost impossible to ignore.

With the full moon of February 2017 only hours away, I had a chance to spend a little time with the Schaumburg Moon Two PVD; an all black, moon at the 6, timelessly cool piece of contemporary styled German watchmaking. With conspicuous presence, solid build quality and beguiling little detailing, it is constantly demanding a swift glance, and on a black alligator strap it looks and feels good on the wrist.

Its pebble-shaped case is sleek, and in itself quite distinctive. Beneath the join of the glossy sheen of the  bezel and the smooth matte surface of the case its profile is belly-like, and this allows for the crown to nestle right in to its flank, virtually out of sight, belying its 43mm width, and resulting in notably clean lines. Also secreted away are the corrector buttons which allow for quick setting of the date indicator and the moon phase.

The bezel rises towards the sapphire, and because of its pronounced inwardly arcing  curvature, only a thin black lip meets the slightly elevated edge of the flat sapphire crystal, and the effect serves to exaggerate the area of the dial below.

The black dial has a mottled finish, and although its lower hemisphere is dominated by the recessed moon display which spans the space between the centre and edge, it still feels spacious and uncluttered. A scattering of six polished stars surround the silvery grey rim of the moon aperture, and through every lunar cycle, an opaque black disc passes over the fabulous photorealistic impression of the moon, its topography a portrayed true to life, very much as if we were looking up into the night sky at it, the disc almost hiding it from view, but not quite.

The highly polished surfaces of the skeletonised candle-form steel hands and chubby round steel hour markers reflect any available light, glinting and gleaming constantly in daylight, and yet despite the absence of luminous references, it's also surprisingly easy to read where the lights have been dimmed; although in pitch darkness it won't be much help - however, happily the moon's dim glow readily compensates for that minor inconvenience. The third hand follows a tapering wavy tail to a star at its tip, which points to the date on the reclined rehaut, and which springs forward on the stroke of midnight.

Underneath, a polished caseback bezel contains a crescent moon-shaped sapphire glass, which reveals the spinning rotor with Côtes de Genève striping, the perlage surface finish of the plates, and the inner workings of the chronometer certified Sellita SW-11 automatic movement. Equipped with modified moon phase gearing, the mechanism is so precise that only once in 122.5 years will the function require manual adjustment.

It's presented on a glossy black alligator strap, with double folding deployant clasp.

In taking a classic complication and reimagining it for a contemporary world, the Schaumburg Moon Two, like its siblings, is a watch into which the detail in design is obvious, and indeed it owes much to the innovative watchmaking talents of its creator Martin Braun.

For the record, I am associated with an Authorised Schaumburg dealership, and in writing this piece I have been conscious of the need to deliver a tempered, even restrained overview. However... I've seen dozens of these pieces and for me they are truly spectacular, they are uniquely and cleverly designed, and to a knowing eye stand out clearly at a hundred paces. At 43mm it's got presence, and has that oversized focal moon phase, but this black PVD Moon Two is also surprisingly discreet. It's obvious of course, but it's not shouty, and that, in my unrestrained opinion, is because overall it has a beautifully simplistic, highly individual and indeed elegant form, and if you are a lover of the moon phase, then few do it service quite like this.