Having a sports watch with an integrated bracelet was all the range back in the 1970s. Having a steel sports watch that not only looked the part but was also a tool watch that would accompany you through pretty much everything and be your faithful wristwatch companion, was essential. The Royal Oak, designed by on Gerald Genta, was AP’s answer to this conundrum. Patek Philippe had theirs in the form of the Nautilus (also design by Mr. Genta) and Vacheron Constantin had what was called at the time, the ‘222’ which marked the brands 222nd anniversary. It would later evolve into the Overseas via the 333 and Phidias. Back in January at SIHH, Vacheron introduced the new look Overseas.
The Overseas has always been a timepiece that wasn’t designed to be a sports watch but more of a casual/leisure, timepiece. When you think about it, sports watches are made for sports and while the Overseas can be worn during sporting activities, it is also a discreet model which can be worn during the weekends – an all-rounder wristwatch. I’ve always been rather fond of the 222 and until now have never really appreciated the Overseas. But with its new design, flowing lines and delicate finishes, the new Overseas model has a more seemingly timeless appearance but one that is still very contemporary.
The case features a six-sided bezel and the fluted crown with grooves that evoke the Maison design codes. The rounded, polished and satin-finished opening dips towards a refined dial topped by a sapphire crystal glare-proofed on both sides. The dial has been coated with a translucent blue lacquer, which creates an illusion of depth when gazed upon. The screwed-down case back fitted with a sapphire crystal reveals a 22K gold oscillating weight adorned with a wind rose, a universal symbol indicating the cardinal points for travelers, and adorned with sandblasted, polished and finely grained finishes.
The use of an integrated bracelet is something that is rather emblematic of these 70s casual, sports wristwatches but with wearers wanting to change the look and feel of the Overseas, every now and then, Vacheron started to make versions of the Overseas with leather and in some cases rubber straps. However, Vacheron have taken this concept a little further on the new Overseas. The new Overseas model is supplied with three types of easily interchangeable bracelets, including stainless steel, leather and the all-important utilitarian rubber strap. An ingenious interchangeability device for the bracelets/straps and the folding clasp, serves to secure them in place without any need for tools. And while this is something extremely new, just the fact this can be done on a Vacheron Overseas, I think is pretty darned cool.
The original 222 housed the calibre 1120 developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre as the calibre 920 in 1967 for exclusively joint use by Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin but it is interesting to note that JLC themselves never actually used this movement. Ironically enough, the big three (AP, Patek and Vacheron) are known to have used this same ebauche for their leisure/sports wristwatch equivalents launched in the 70s. This new Overseas makes use of the new Calibre 5100, which has been developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin to Poinçon de Genève standards, however the Ultra-Thin variation, still deploys the use of the tried and tested calibre 1120. By virtue of its twin barrels, the Overseas Calibre 5100 is endowed with a 60-hour power reserve.
Aesthetically the new Overseas, ticks all the right boxes if you are looking for a tool watch that can be dressed up or down and with the different variations on offer, there is a lot to choose from. That said, this reference 45ooV incorporates the everyday usefulness of a date window, which isn’t too intrusive of the overall flow of the dial. However, I think the real winning quality of the new Overseas 4500V is the aforementioned interchangeable strap system. While the case, at 41mm, may sound a little on the large side, it actually sits quite comfortably on the wrist – this is again due to the bracelet. Ultimately, the new Overseas is a well-designed wristwatch for the gentleman who’s looking for a timepiece that can pretty much worn for every occasion: the faithful wristwatch companion.
The new Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V is available in stainless steel, with a blue or silver-toned dial and is priced at €21,700. It is also available in 18-carat pink-gold and is priced at €38,600 For more information visit the official Vacheron Constantin website.