Vacheron Constantin Overseas 2016 - Connecting the dots with the 222
The first Vacheron Constantin Overseas had been laconically renamed the "222” to mark the exact amount of years that the Genevan manufacturer celebrated in 1977; it was the typical classic sports watch made of steel that was very popular in those years, mostly in Italy, and it was also the fourth steel-made sports watch designed by Gerald Genta (photo found on matthewbaininc.com).
Officially, the Overseas collection was born in 1996 and was then revamped in 2004. Today, 14 years afterwards, Vacheron Constantin have virtually revolutionized the collection by creating a style-bound and concept-bound link with the 222 timepiece. Five new models, twelve references and three new in-house-built calibers that have all been awarded the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, and an exclusive design that marks a big leap forward if compared to all the previous versions.
In the last five year, the Genevan manufacturer has redesigned the hexagon-shaped case by reducing its thickness and by changing the proportions of the case and the bracelet. The result is a perfectly integrated bracelet featuring a rapid unbuckling system that allows the user to easily replace the metal strap with a rubber or leather one. Vacheron Constantin have revamped a collection that, in my personal opinion, had already been held back in 2015 if compared to the typical style of the brand's collections.
The size of the case ranges between 37mm in the case of the Petite Modele and 42.5mm in the case of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph and between 40mm and 41.5mm in the case of the ultra-thin versions; the Vacheron Constantin Ultra-Thin and the Vacheron Constantin Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar.
This shift in proportions shows us how much the new collection has changed, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas and the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph are 11mm and 13.7mm thick, respectively; two excellent sizes for these entry versions that, when it comes to an aesthetic impact, still manage to maintain the closest link with the original Overseas. The Vacheron Constantin Ultra-Thin and the Vacheron Constantin Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar are 7.50mm and 8.10mm thick, respectively.
These two are the most interesting models of the new collection, both from an aesthetic and technical point of view; the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin is the spiritual heir of the 222. Both this timepiece and its perpetual calendar counterpart are equipped with the automatic ultra-thin calibers of the 1120 range running at 2.75Hz of frequency and guaranteeing up to 40 hours of power reserve. I wonder whether there is a specific technical reason why these calibers oscillate exactly at a frequency of 19.800 vibrations per hour.
The 1120QP caliber is only 4.05mm thick and I guess it is currently the thinnest automatic calendar featuring a perpetual calendar ever crafted by the Richemont group (the automatic 868 caliber by Jaeger-LeCoultre is 4.72mm thick). The geometry of the dial is the same as the Patrimony's and it features a scale indicating the years on a 48-month-timeframe according to the leap-years-cycle.
The dial sports a gray background with a satin soleil finish, Vacheron Constantin have inserted light blue accents on the chapter ring, on the 12 months of the last year of the leap-year-cycle and on the wheel of the moon-phase too. If you place the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar and a Patrimony equipped with the same caliber next to each other, you will immediately notice that the manufacturer's main idea was the creation of some sort of “family bond” with the classic collections such as the Patrimony, a completely new move if compared to what they had done in the past with the 49020/000R-9753 reference, for instance.
Featuring a white gold case and three different options when it comes to the strap, this is the most beautiful Vacheron Constatin Overseas ever crafted and I am sure that you will immediately fall in love with this timepiece as soon as you wear its leather strap version around your wrist. On each version, the manufacturer has replaced the caseback that used to sport Amerigo Vespucci's effigy with a sapphire glass and a new 22k gold oscillating weight sporting a wind rose drawing.
In their new Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar, Vacheron Constantin have managed to merge together classic and sporty elements; it might sound a bit like an overused definition but, in my opinion, this timepiece sits in between an IWC perpetual calendar (my favourite sporty perpetual calendar) and the perfect half of an ultra-classic watch like the Patrimony Perpetual Calendar, which is still a bit too classic for my taste. The Vacheron Constantin Overseas and the chrono version feature a translucent lacquered blue dial and an anti-glare treated double sapphire glass. Vacheron Constantin, by unveiling its new Overseas collection has definitely squared the circle in terms of product offering.
It is far more appealing and faithful to the brand's style language and better than the outoging collection in every single detail. Although being revamped, the classic versions do not fully match my expectations yet, especially when it comes to the blue transparent dial, which is a bit too sporty in my opinion, while the Ultra-Thin models are spot on and have dramatically improved the collection's awareness over its competitors too, as it is the case, again, with the new Perpetual Calendar.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®