Moon phase clocks are a magnificent piece of art in the history of clock building. A moon phase clock is also called a clock with a moon dial or lunar phase dial.
The moon phase clock has a long history in Europe. In the beginning of the 18th century clock makers started building clocks with a moon phase. But the question is: why did clock makers started building moon phase clocks? Life in those days was very different from ours. For example, people made long journeys by night on horseback. To have a safe journey it was important to have full moon. Therefore, the rich started asking more and more for moon phase clocks. But also farmers used the moon during their work on the fields. Knowing the phase of the moon was essential because they knew that when the moon was full or nearly full there would be more light to work on the fields in the evenings. Using a moon phase clock was therefore very helpful for them. Moreover, farmers also used the different phases of the moon in planning when to plant certain crops. We may therefore assume that it were farmers (who were sometimes quite wealthy at that time) who asked a clock maker to put a moon phase dial on a new clock.
In the Netherlands, there is also a long history of moon phase clocks. One of the most famous regions for building clocks in the Netherlands, namely Friesland in the north, build moon phase clocks. The Friesians had two type of Friesian clocks, the Friesian tail clock and the Friesian Schippertje. Both were most of the time moon phase clocks. The moon phase was built in a handpainted dial. Often they handpainted a typical Dutch landscape with windmills and farms. And the moon phase itself is also beautifully handpainted. Also, the ‘Salland region’ made wall clocks with a moon phase, though this Sallander clock with moon phase wasn’t built in a handpainted landscape. The famous Zaanse clock from the ‘Zaan region’ does not have a moon phase. So not all Dutch clock styles had a moon phase.
The Dutch, with their business instinct, realized people liked a clock with a moon phase. In the 1960s & 1970s the famous Warmink company, produced besides wall clocks also mantel clocks with a moon phase. They made various styles and types of mantel clocks, also with different movements, like the Westminster. In the 1960s a lot of Dutch people owned a moon phase clock. Even still today, most clock lovers around the world like a moon phase clock even though we don’t need a full moon anymore when we make a journey or work on the fields.