By Harlan Chapman-Green
Vacheron’s legendary Overseas collection came about as a facelift of a watch that was made in response to another watch that was made in response to the quartz crisis, savvy? When the grey mist that was quartz technology descended on the Swiss watch industry a lot of companies just couldn’t manage to sell units to people anymore. Holy Trinity rival Audemars Piguet drafted Gerald Genta in to design them a sports watch made of steel that would capture the industry and change it forever, and change it did. In response to the Royal Oak’s release, Patek Philippe noticed they’d need to do something similar, so they also hired Gerald Genta to design them a watch which resulted in the eponymous Nautilus. Vacheron Constantin was a little slower than Patek to respond to the change in the industry, they hired Gerald Genta to design their sports watch, the 222, which was later improved to make the Overseas, and now it’s been updated again.
Overseas and Overseas Small Model
The first watches we’re going to look at are the re-editions of the simple three hand watches. Vacheron’s Overseas models include these two watches for the gentleman who prefers a more simplified look. Updates to the Overseas include a slightly different bezel (although it is physically the same shape, the Maltese Cross inspired nodules now stretch all the way to the edge, eliminating the pancake look that I wasn’t a fan of) for our delectation. There are also now 6 nodules instead of 8 as well. The new 5100 calibre movement is automatically powered with a date feature in this edition and has been awarded the Seal of Geneva. The normal sized watch is 41mm in diameter and the Overseas Small Model is 37mm in diameter with 84 sumptuous diamonds in the bezel and a small seconds hand.
Like the rest of the range, the Overseas Chronograph watch also has an in-house made 5200 calibre that’s had a chronograph module added onto it for good measure. The movement in this watch has been the subject of 5 long years of development running in tandem with the research and manufacture of the Calibre 57260 (the most complicated watch in the world). Like the outgoing movement, the new movement is antimagnetic and has a soft iron ring around it to shield it from strong magnets like those you’d expect from a computer, speaker or pretty much anything electrical these days. Finally, we get the feature we’ve been waiting for, an open caseback. Each movement is adorned with a lovely 22K gold rotor with a compass style design to it. The Overseas Chronograph has a 52-hour power reserve and a 42.5mm case.
The simplest Overseas watch, like the Royal Oak and the Nautilus, can be worn as a dress watch or a sports watch no matter what material the strap is made of. The Ultra-Thin is the perfect watch for a dress occasion, being able to slide under any cuff thanks to a thickness of just 7.5mm. The ultra-thin calibre 1120 movement in this watch lasts for around 40 hours when wound and has been awarded the Geneva Seal. Each new Overseas model also features a fantastically simple interchangeable strap system. Two discreet (almost invisible) sliders located where the strap joins the case allow the strap to slide out and be changed for another one, with a metal bracelet, a leather strap or a sporty rubber strap. This interchange system means you can come home from a hard day with the bracelet, clean up, get changed, change the strap to leather and go out for the evening al with just one watch.
Overseas Perpetual Calendar
The undisputed crown of the new collection is the white gold cased Perpetual Calendar Overseas. The movement inside this watch is an 1120 QP movement, meaning that Vacheron Constantin has taken their ultra-thin calibre and added the iconic perpetual calendar system to it. The calendar shows the day, the date, the month, the leap years and the phase of the moon as well and really makes good use of blue markers contrasting with the silvery turquoise dial. This watch has no seconds hand, much like the revised Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar, but this just seems to be that little bit extra. Maybe it’s the case, or maybe it’s the magic of the name Vacheron Constantin. This watch is 41.5mm in diameter, 8.1mm thick, has a 40-hour power reserve and is bound to be extremely expensive when released, we love it. For more info, please visit vacheron-constantin.com
HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
A keen bass guitar player, Harlan enjoys all the perks modern watchmaking technologies the industry has to offer. Although you might catch him sampling Omegas or the odd Rolex, Harlan loves all things Haute Horology, with his three favourite brands being Breguet, A.Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. He hopes to study timekeeping more in depth someday and will never be able to thank his father enough for introducing him to the industry. You can follow him on Instagram Read his articles here