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July 20, 2024

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic: seduction in blue

Vacheron Constantin Overseas. A name which evokes adventure, discovery, distant destinations. A collection that is among the most emblematic not only among those of the Geneva brand, but also of the whole haute horlogerie domain. Explaining its appeal is not difficult, if one looks at the context in which it was born. In fact, the Overseas collection finds its origins in the sporty-chic watches, characterised by steel cases with integrated bracelet in the same material (designed as a whole and not conceived separately), polygonal bezels, and dials that are no longer just white or black.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

A trend that Vacheron Constantin joined in 1977 by presenting the 222, designed by the young Jorg Hysek – a watch created to celebrate its 222nd anniversary. Produced in limited quantities, in different versions and materials, the 222 exited the catalogue in the mid-1980s, enjoying posthumous success and becoming a watchmaking icon only later. For the true success of the sporty-chic watches from the Geneva-based maison came in 1996, with the Overseas collection.

VACHERON CONSTANTIN OVERSEAS: THE BEGINNINGS

At that time, the Vendôme Luxury group had recently acquired Vacheron Constantin from Investcorp. The development of the Overseas had been initiated a few months before the sale by a design team that included Dino Modolo, a watch designer outsider to the company, and Vincent Kaufmann from Vacheron Constantin. Rather than simply creating a high-end sports watch, with the Overseas the brand was resolutely targeting travellers who liked sporty but also elegant watches.

The Overseas was built around a tonneau-shaped case with a fluted bezel reminiscent of the Maltese cross. Its lines were extended by an integrated bracelet with geometric links. The first Overseas was small in size, 37 mm in diameter, water-resistant to 15 bar and powered by the VC1310 calibre.

Smaller 35 mm and 24 mm versions were then added, and in 1999 came the chronograph. 2004 marked the Overseas collection’s evolution, which was characterised by a more modern design, in particular with the redesigned bracelet featuring the half Maltese cross motif. 

The bracelet’s integration with the case was modernised and the central link was extended to the bezel. The crown shields were removed, and both the new dials and the more generous dimensions (42 mm) gave the watch a sportier look. The VC1126 and VC1137 calibres beat inside the cases, and soft-iron cages offered the calibres complete protection from magnetic fields.

The definitive modernisation of the collection came in 2016, when Vacheron Constantin presented an Overseas collection that was more elegant and refined, without leaving its adventurous character behind. Vincent Kaufmann designed a watch with more fluid lines, a more barrel-shaped case, and a disc under the bezel that emphasises the dial’s opening. The Maltese cross bezel went from 8 to 6 notches and was extended to the edge of the case. All calibres of the new models bore the Geneva Hallmark.

THE BLUE AUTOMATIC OVERSEAS

A relatively short history, then, that of Overseas. Not even thirty years old, and the collection has already become a Vacheron Constantin symbol. Today, to respond to the ever-changing tastes of enthusiasts, the collection is enriched with four new references in steel and pink gold, with different diameters: 34.5 mm for the versions without diamonds, 35 mm for those with the precious stone. The star of our exclusive photo shoot is the 34.5 mm watch with a steel case and bracelet and a blue dial.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

It is the reference 4600V/200A-B980, available exclusively at Vacheron Constantin boutiques for €25,700. The first feature that catches the eye is how agile the silhouette seems, slender and slim. The case is just over 9 mm thick, making this Overseas particularly wearable and ergonomic. In fact, the case design has been refined so that the watch can be adapted to both men’s and women’s wrists – confirmed by the very small diameter of the timepiece.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

The satin finish of the case contrasts with the lustre of the bezel, which in turn is enhanced by the blue of the lacquered dial with a satin soleil finish. The dial itself is designed to be elegant and legible, refined yet essential. The elongated white gold baton hour markers rest on the minute circle, which is set on a rehaut slightly above the level of the dial. A structure designed to give the watch more depth. The Super-LumiNova inserts, also present on the hour and minute hands, ensure legibility in all light conditions.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

The seconds hand is central, as is typical of Vacheron Constantin‘s Overseas collection. Just as typical is the date display at 3 o’clock, well highlighted by a frame matching the case and bracelet. Speaking of the bracelet, the integrated steel one has the classic half Maltese cross design which characterises the line, satin-finished links at the top and polished links at the joints. Despite the size of the links, it remains very comfortable to wear.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

Our pictures’ star also has two additional interchangeable leather and rubber straps, with pin buckles or folding clasp. Their colour matches that of the blue dial.

THE MANUFACTURE CALIBRE

The steel case houses one of Vacheron Constantin’s most reliable automatic calibres, the 1088/1. This is an in-house movement developed based on the 1088, which is housed in prestigious collections such as the Égérie. Unlike the latter, which has a skeletonised 22-carat gold rotor, the 1088/1 has a solid oscillating weight, again in 22-carat gold and adorned with the compass rose: the symbol of the collection devoted to exploration.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

Calibre 1088/1 works at 28,800 vibrations per hour with a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. Since it is visible through the sapphire glass back, Vacheron Constantin has paid particular attention to its finish. In addition to the gold rotor with satin-finished and other grené parts, the bridges feature the Côtes de Genève finish which characterises high-end manufacture timepieces. Technically, the calibre has the so-called ‘hacking seconds’ or seconds stop mechanism, which allows precise adjustment of the watch’s chronometric function. 

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

It sounds like a trivial detail, but it is actually a feature that distinguishes high-end timepieces, especially if they are equipped with high-precision calibres. On a watch like the Overseas by Vacheron Constantin, this mechanism cannot be missing.

A RAPID SUCCESS

Since 1996, the Overseas collection has therefore come a long way. Not only on the wrists of those who, just like it, are inspired by travel and discovery, but also internally, as an evolution of style and design. What is surprising, above all, is how quickly it has become both an emblem for the brand and a touchstone for other brands. Twenty-seven years, in a centuries-long history as that of Vacheron Constantin, is just a jiffy. 

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Automatic 34,5 mm

Its codes have evolved over time, particularly with regard to the integrated metal bracelet, the hallmark of sporty-chic watches. The latest interpretation of the collection, that of 2016, is rooted in the 21st century through a clearly recognisable aesthetic signature, which places the Overseas among the most successful of the timepieces created in the late 20th century.

By Davide Passoni