Vacheron Constantin celebrates the 20th year of its Overseas collection
Milestones in 260 years of uninterrupted watchmaking history. In 1977, Vacheron Constantin came out with a steel watch, the reference number 222. It inspired the Overseas collection, launched in 1996. Twenty years later it is still growing
The automatic wristwatch with the reference number 222 came out at a time when a whole slew of stainless steel models were surfacing in the world of luxury watches. It gave rise to the sport chic movement. On the lower right-hand edge of the case, right next to the bezel, which was screwed on, like a porthole, into the monoblock case, was a precious little crest in the shape of a Maltese cross. The watch was water-resistant to 120 meters. Its name was derived from the 222nd anniversary of the brand, which was celebrated in 1977. The model came in a yellow-gold version and a bicolor version.
Historic traveling roots come alive
Almost twenty years later, in 1996, the Overseas, which was quite visibly inspired by the 222, was presented in Geneva with lots of pomp and ceremony. I still remember the huge party, emceed by the city’s most famous public relations star, Michèle Reichenbach, who knew how to match local celebrities with right media people, while at the same tome inspiring the famous thriller-writer, Frédéric Dard. In the background was the whole world of travel to which the brand's founding fathers owed their success, Jacques Vacheron in Europe as of 1810, François Constantin in North America as of 1819. It's all about adventures, the call of the high seas on a blue backdrop...
Another twenty years have sailed by. We are now in 2016 and the temporary exhibition called “L’élégance en movement” just shut down in April. It consisted of a selection of fifty-seven timepieces taken from the 1300 owned by the in-house museum. The Overseas collection, whose tenth anniversary in 2006 had endowed this icon with a wealth of major and minor complications spread out over four new models, now returned to its fundamentals. Suddenly, there are five models, each proudly bearing the Geneva Seal and everything that this label implies in terms of outstanding micromechanics and esthetics. And they are solidly mooring the Overseas family in the 21st century.
Lifting the embargo, an Heures du Monde is born
Following the presentation of five new Overseas at the beginning of the year, including one chronograph that we will come back to at a later date, Vacheron Constantin will be welcoming a very special brown coloring for its dials in the course of the year. It’s an animated color. As with bronze, it evokes the gentle patina that inexorably transforms surfaces exposed to wind and weather, which leave different traces depending on their impact. This nuance will be applied to each of the 2016 novelties and will add an option to the existing combinations. Applying a translucent brown lacquer, with its depth and subtle reflections, accentuates the reliefs of the dial. The Overseas brown comes in soleillés, azures, or veloutés (sunray, blue, or velvety) and can therefore be used to juggle with contrasting finishes, sanded, polished and grainy. Furthermore, one must keep in mind the requirements for the receiving the Geneva Seal, which all Vacheron Constantin watches have to meet. This label is not just granted for chronometric performance.
Suddenly, on May 11, 2016, Vacheron Constantin came out with the Overseas Heures du Monde, a veritable world tour in 24 hours. This watch, too, whether in its blue or silvery version, succumbed to the lure of the famous brown. The circle has been closed, the “travel” link in the DNA chain of the Overseas collection is taking the watch into thirty-seven time zone territory packed inside a 43.5 millimeter case. The time zones include even those that are just at a quarter-hour interval from UTC. A translucent, lacquered disc bears the names of the cities on its periphery, while another disc, this one of sapphire crystal, hovers over the outline of a world map and provides for a day-night indication thanks to staggered smokiness. It is synchronized with the 24-hour disc. An exterior ring in translucent lacquer, with a velvety look, ticks off the minutes. At the center, one sees the northern hemisphere as a Lambert projection, while the continents are given a satin sun brushing and the seas are in a velvety texture.
Inside is the automatic Caliber 2460 WT. It has a power reserve of about forty hours, and its oscillating mass, made of 22-karat gold, seems to suggest a deep desire for setting sail, with its vigorous movements. This micromechanical movement, which beats at 28,800 vph, i.e., 4 Hertz, was developed and manufactured in-house. Thanks to the intelligent arrangement of the 255 parts, including 27 rubies, the crown has the power to manage and adjust all the indications in a simple manner. The watch is water-resistant to 150 meters. Another distinctive aspect of the new Overseas models is that they come with three bracelets. Interchangeability is easy thanks to the lug design and the deployment clasp. The owner can easily switch stainless steel bracelet with the Maltese cross motifs for a hand-stitched strap made of alligator Mississippiensis with large scales, or the soft feel of trendy rubber.