28 March 2024

Why We Love The Vacheron Constantin Overseas

By Justin Mastine-Frost

The way the Vacheron Constantin Overseas collection has rocketed to success over the last several years is a tale for the ages. While some will certainly argue that it’s the lack of access to the Patek Philippe Nautilus that led its climb to fame, it’s a bit foolish to undercut the fantastic work that the brand put into designing this little iteration. Sure, there’s always some of that “next best thing” energy in the market, but the Overseas easily stands on its own as a spectacular sports watch that delivers fantastic comfort, finishing, and quality. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a closer look at the collection as a whole, picking through all of those lovely details that make it so special to us

Devilishly Detailed (Maltese Cross Integration):

As a general rule, the more complex the design of a product, the greater the risk of design cohesion coming apart at the seams. A good designer understands the boundaries of “how much is too much”, as well as knowing when to say stop, and call a design finished. The Overseas collection is a masterclass in watch design, full stop. Not only are its proportions perfect. Not only is it wonderful ergonomically, a joy to wear, and highly legible. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing either. The Overseas hits all of these marks, all while hiding clever nods to the brand throughout. Nods to the Maltese Cross—the brand’s logo—appears in several places within the case and bracelet. This includes the bezel design, the bracelet links, and in the case of tourbillon references, in the tourbillon cage itself.

Brilliance of Blue Dials:

Everyone’s a sucker for a good share of blue, there’s no arguing that point, and Vacheron Constantin delivers in spades. It’s a special mix of colour pigment choice, a sun ray finish, and the gloss lacquer application that helps bring out its shine. Of course there’s always debate about who makes the best blue—often a debate as to whether Vacheron’s blue is nicer than the FP Journe Chronomètre Bleu. What’s quite special about this dial is how drastic its colour shift can be. In bright light, and even moderate light it can be quite vibrant, and yet with the right amount of shade or darkness it fades down to near midnight blue.

Superb Strap and Bracelet System:

Yes, it’s quite well known now that most luxury brands (the smart ones) have all developed their own quick-change strap systems, or at least those who don’t use conventional spring bars. Vacheron claims to have taken several years to develop and refine before launching it on the Overseas collection. Removing it and installing it is no major marvel, as a quick release tab frees the strap or bracelet from its bar: done deal. Where the cleverness lies is in the clasps more than anything. For the straps, a swiveling pin and gaiter allows the buckle to be released and interchanged between the straps. Meanwhile for the bracelet, it’s the hidden micro-adjustment that makes it sing. Pulling the package together, both the rubber and leather straps (which come with the watch when purchased) are some of the most comfortable I’ve worn and handled over the course of my career in the category.

Lessons in Layouts:

In a similar way to how the Overseas is equal parts classic and contemporary in its overall design, the dial layouts of the various Overseas complications also cover both ends of the spectrum. On one half of the collection, the three-hand, the chronograph, and the perpetual calendar all feel quite traditional and conventional in how their respective indications are laid out. When you move towards the dual time, the moonphase retrograde, and the perpetual calendar ultra-thin skeleton, we’re seeing a different beast altogether.  

 

For the dual time, a 12-hour second time zone hand is positioned centrally, with a pointer am-pm indicator that is very uncommon. I’d be tempted to argue it’s the only one of its kind, or at least the only one I’ve seen in modern history. With the retrograde moonphase, the pairing of a large top-half retrograde pointer date and a moonphase indication populating the lower half of the dial is quite different from anything on offer in the integrated bracelet sports watch category. 

A Sporting Perpetual:

On the heels of the topic above, it’s worth specifically calling out one reference in particular that graces the Overseas collection: The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton. While, yes, Audemars Piguet offers something similar in the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore lines, the skeletonised Overseas when fitted with its factory rubber strap is an absolute banger. The way the blue rubber makes the floating perpetual indication subdials pop against its stellar micromechanics is a stunning affair that never gets old to stare into. The best part is you really aren’t stuck staring for long when looking for information; the way its contrasting finishes are executed, the skeleton is still highly legible, which is crucial with a watch like this. With 5 bar of water resistance it’s a touch less rough-and-tumble than its siblings, but this is so often the way things go with perpetual calendars.

All The Time Zones:

We’ve covered off a lot of the model range within the Overseas collection, but no conversation is complete without a nod to the Overseas World Time, which surprisingly seems to now be delisted from the brand’s current offering. The Overseas world time is a sleek and stunning piece — one that’s much more tool/utility focused than the countless dressy world time watches in the market. That on its own gives it some appeal, but where it stands out further is in the movement and time indication itself. You see, 99% of world time watches out there will display the 24 primary world time zones that exist, but doing so rules out the 13 other time zones that make up the half and quarter hour zones around the globe. Vacheron first built this function into the Patrimony World time they launched back in 2011, and have kept it in the catalog in varying forms ever since. With this latest removal from the catalog, we’re left to wonder two things: will there be an updated caliber coming for 2024, and how will this change affect the value of the few Overseas world timers that are in the market now? Only time will tell.

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