I honestly don’t pay much attention to moon phases as a complication. Neither apparently do most watchmakers. Unless you’re an obsessive like Andreas Strehler, or tie it to something useful like a tide scale, it’s pretty much just there for the aesthetics, generally part and parcel of a calendar. I also think of it as something distinctly classical, which is a label that simply doesn’t fit the Farer Moonphase Burbidge.
It takes a lot for me to actually want to try out a moon phase. But when I find out one of the most design conscious British brands is tackling this most traditional complication, my curiosity is piqued. Needless to say, I was excited to see how Farer approached it. They’re not exactly designed to play things safe.
In typical Farer style, colour is at the heart of the new Burbidge moon phase – and this particular variation is by far the most intense in that respect. The arctic blue dial is a magnificently icy shade, like a slightly muted take on my darling Paulin Neo. As ever, blue covers a myriad hues and in the case of the Burbidge, a darker shade is used for the indexes, arrow second hand, and yet another shade bordering the date window.
It’s a level of confidence in colour that only really British brands seem to manage, Farer in particular. And if that were all then it would make for an eye-catching watch. But it doesn’t. The moon phase is central to this capsule collection, with each opting for a differently coloured moon. In the salmon-dialled Eddington it’s the usual off-white; for the black-dialled Halley, it’s harvest yellow. For the Burbidge, it’s a luminescent pink – referring to the April full moon. And it’s magnificent.
The moonphase is doubly striking for its size, taking up a good portion of the top half of the dial. In the dark it’s even more extraordinary, with plenty of blue lume across moon, indexes and razor-sharp handset. I personally would prefer the complication a little smaller, but then you wouldn’t have nearly the same amount of impact from the mix of pink, midnight blue, and arctic. A moonphase may be one of the most classical complications around, just not like this.
The case is a lot more subtle but no less well-done. The cushion shape of the Farer Moonphase Burbidge amps up the heritage feel and at 38.5mm of stainless steel, sits more retro than vintage on the wrist – accessibly sized, but by no means does it feel small. Cushion cases always wear a bit larger than their size suggests.
Along with the usual mix of brushed and polished finishes, the sides of the case have been given what Farer call a ‘grain twist’ pattern, apparently inspired by the surface of the moon. In reality it’s something like a smoothed-out knurling that you’d find on a vintage lighter. While I’m not too keen on the look of it – it just doesn’t sit right with the rest of the watch for me – it’s tactile enough to get a pass.
Inside is the hand-wound, Elaboré grade Sellita SW288-1Ma. It’s fitting that Farer went for manual-wind with a classical complication like this, but more importantly it’s a stunner. You can see it through the sapphire caseback, gorgeously engraved mainplate and all. The 45-hour power reserve is decent enough, if not exceptional, for a manual- wind calibre.
Of course, this being a British watch and us Brits – other than anyone working on the Isle of Man – like accessibility. In this case it’s a finely-finished movement in an even more finely-finished and much quirkier watch, complete with moonphase, for £1,475. That’s the kind of value you only come across on a blue moon which, incidentally, isn’t one Farer have gone for here.
Finished on a contrasting burgundy leather strap, it’s fun, funky and eye-catching, not normally things you’d associate with a moonphase. Does it make me think any more of the complication as a concept? Not really. But it’s a damn cool watch all the same.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Farer Moonphase Burbidge
- Case/dial: 38.5mm diameter x 10.5mm thickness, stainless steel case, arctic blue sunray dial, hand painted blue moonphase disc with pink Super-Luminova moon
- Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
- Movement: Swiss made Sellita calibre SW288-1 Ma, manual winding, 18 jewels
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 45h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, moonphase
- Strap: Barenia leather
- Price/availability: £1,475