Versatile, sporty and – for the time being, at least – reasonably available for purchase, the Vacheron Constanstin Overseas is fast-becoming the luxury steel sports watch to own. And to be honest, it’s about time this collection got its well-deserved moment in the sun. For years knowledgeable collectors have been quietly enjoying the fruits of the labour of the world’s oldest watch manufacturer still in continuous operation. But, unlike the other two brands that make up the holy trinity of mechanical watchmaking, Vacheron’s luxury steel sport watch offering has never quite garnered the same attention from mainstream audiences. Which is simply criminal.Like all true blood luxury steel sports watches, the Overseas collection traces its origins to the 1970s. A disruptive period for the industry as a whole, Vacheron wanted to remind customers of its well-established ability to weather a storm or two by creating a special watch to mark its 222nd anniversary. Designed by a young Jorg Hysek – today considered one of the most successful watch designers of the modern era – the 222 was a radical departure from the brand’s classic dress watches. Its slim, tonneau-shaped case featured a notched round bezel and was worn on a complex integrated bracelet with unusual hexagonal centre links. Yet it still offered everything one would expect from a Vacheron Constantin timepiece; high-quality finishing, complex construction and serious wrist appeal.
Twenty years later, Vacheron looked to this very model for inspiration in creating its bold, new Overseas collection. A new style of timepiece that would appeal to frequent flyers with a penchant for luxury sports watches that could keep up with their demanding lifestyles. Today, that budding collection has undergone a number of evolutions to grow into a very robust offering. Here’s a selection of four of our favourite models that should definitely be on your radar.
Overseas Self-Winding Ref 4500v/110a-B128
The Ref 4500v is the quintessential luxury sports watch in the collection. This is the wear anywhere, for any occasion model. Presented in a beautifully finished 41mm tonneau-shaped case, it features satin-brushed and polished finishes. The simple yet elegant round dial offers a classic three-hand layout, with the date shown via an aperture. All of which is framed by polished bezel with six notches, evoking the Maltese cross that forms part of Vacheron Constantin’s identity.
At just 11mm high, the case sits comfortably on the wrist, thanks in no small part to the exquisitely constructed integrated bracelet, which offers an in-built extension system allowing you to easily adapt it to your wrist size. Of course, if metal bracelets aren’t your thing – or you just feel like a change – you can easily switch out for a leather or rubber alternative (supplied with the watch) without the need for tools. Inside is Vacheron’s in-house Calibre 5100, a self-winding movement that delivers a 60-hour power reserve. As with all in-house movements from the brand, it is adorned with the Geneva Seal.
Overseas Chronograph Reference: 5500v/110a-B481
For the added functionality of a chronograph, look to Ref 5500V. Presented in a slightly larger 42.5mm x 13.70mm case, it boasts all the same finishing as its smaller sibling. As well as the interchangeable strap system that makes the Overseas such a versatile collection. The dial features a three register lay-out, with a 30-minute and 12-hour counter at 3 and 6 o’clock respectively, and central chronograph seconds. Running seconds are shown on the remaining sub-dial at 9 o’clock. The chronograph functions are controlled by the pushers either side of the crown, all of which screw down to ensure the watch retains its 150m water resistance rating. Inside – and visible through the sapphire case back – is the in-house Calibre 5200, a modern, integrated automatic movement with column-wheel and vertical clutch.
Overseas Dual Time Ref 7900v/110a-B333
The Overseas collection has always been targeted to travellers and those with active lifestyles and so it is only fitting that the collection features a true dual time watch. In terms of case size and aesthetics this model is very similar to the classic Overseas Self-Winding. Although it is a bit thicker at 12.8mm. It’s the clever additions to the dial however that ramp up the functionality. Whilst local time is displayed centrally along with the date on a sub-dial at 6 o’clock, a second time zone can be simultaneously tracked by the red-tipped central hand complete with handy day-night indicator at 9 o’clock.
All the time settings are controlled by the central screw down crown, whilst the date can be adjusted via the separate pusher at 4 o’clock. Providing the power is the self-winding manufacture calibre 5110 DT, capable of storing a 60-hour power reserve. Conventional, practical and easy to use, this is a watch that never looks out of place no matter where you take it.
Overseas Tourbillon Ref 6000v/110a-B544
This is the grand-daddy of the collection. The watch you buy when you have made it to the very top of the mountain and want everybody to know it. Like the chronograph, it comes in a larger 42.5mm steel case, yet thanks to the ultra-slim manufacture calibre 2160 inside, it stands a more svelte 10.39mm high. The slimness of the case – and the material from which it’s made – stand in contrast to the mesmerising tourbillon that occupies most of the bottom half of the dial. Its cage is inspired by the Maltese cross and the large opening creates the illusion of impressive depth, so much so that one has the sensation one could almost fall in (metaphorically speaking). It also affords the viewer in-depth examination from both sides of the case, offering a visual treat of the House of Vacheron’s unparalleled artisanal skill. And yet, this model remains practical enough to wear on a daily basis.
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