The WIS is an interesting breed.
We want to keep our collection at a reasonable level (somehow having “reasonable”, “collection” and “WIS” in the same sentence seems contradictory!) so we sell, then decide that our level of reasonable has not been met so we buy and we convince ourselves that we need a watch for every occasion (I even heard a Lounger speak about getting a watch to go with his new suit!!) and all this adds up.
Look no further dear Loungers as Vacheron Constantin brings you all of the above and much more with the new Overseas chronograph.
As far as I can remember, Vacheronistas have been asking for an Overseas with an inhouse movement and with the new Overseas Chronograph presented in Geneva earlier this year, Vacheron Constantin does not disappoint by housing in this new model, the brand’s first inhouse automatic chronograph caliber (which is in fact the 4th manufacture chronograph caliber in just a year)!
The Overseas has been part of the Vacheron Constantin collection since 1996 and directly inspired by the now iconic and extremely sought after Ref 222 from 1977.
For a full review on the Evolution of Vacheron Constantin Sports Watches click here
Story has it that in 1994 Vacheron Constantin started working on an elegant casual chic timepiece but Johann Rupert the owner of Richemont (the holding company of Vacheron Constantin) didn’t think that such a timepiece would go with VC’s genetic code. Not ones to be stopped by an obstacle the team decided to go on with the project and created a special Overseas with crown on the left for Mr. Rupert (who is left handed) as to convince him of their idea…the rest - as we say- is history.
I spent a week with the new Overseas Chronograph and here is my own biased review.
I need to start by saying I am a huge fan of the previous generation Overseas and have been wearing a steel blue dial chronograph for the past years so comparing will be inevitable!
The principal question one needs to answer is what has changed in the new Overseas. To paraphrase the famous Apple ad one thing has changed: everything!
Probably what collectors have been waiting for the most: an Overseas with inhouse caliber and they are served!
Calibre 5200 is Vacheron Constantin’s 1st inhouse automatic chronograph caliber and it does not disappoint. This 263-component calibre (30.6mm diameter and 6.6mm thick) is fitted with a vertical coupling clutch preventing any jerking of the hand when the chronograph starts. A signature feature of new Vacheron Constantin chronographs, the column wheel is adorned with a Maltese cross shaped screw.
Furthermore, Calibre 5200 is equipped with twin barrels ensuring over 50 hours of power reserve.
Like its predecessor the Overseas calibre is placed within a soft iron ring protecting it from magnetic fields even with an open caseback! In fact it can withstand magnetic fields up to 200 gauss whereas the norm is 60 gauss.
One feature seems to be having stirred a lot of negative comments is the fact that the date window is placed at 4 o’clock, many would have preferred for the big date found on the previous model be maintained but it was decided not to go down that route. The reason mainly being that the team behind the Overseas project considered that having a big date even though interesting was not a signature feature for Vacheron Constantin and furthermore considering the size of the movement the date disc was large enough to be easily legible.
For me this is neither a deal maker nor breaker but a matter of taste, the big date was just easier to read for my ageing eyes. Says Christian Selmoni Vacheron Constantin Artistic Director “When we change we need to abandon certain things, if not why change”?
The new Overseas models inspire images of travels and distant lands and as such, Calibre 5200 (like all the other Overseas models) features a 22k pink gold rotor adorned with a wind rose with a lovely grainy and polished finish.
Finally, and this is something I really appreciate with Vacheron Constantin, the movement finish has been painstakingly applied with polished angles and harmonious Geneva waves furthermore bearing the Geneva seal.
Case and Dial
The case of the new Overseas Chronograph sees a series of subtle changes. The most visible is the shape of the case which is rounder, slightly bigger and thicker (42.5mm diameter vs 42mm diameter for the previous Overseas Chronograph and 13.7mm thick vs 12.4mm).
If you pay close attention you will also notice that the bezel in the form of a broken Maltese cross is also different as it now has 6 sides vs the previous model’s 8 sided bezel. A new element – that can be an interesting feature in the future -is the ring between the bezel and the top of the case. This ring can later be replaced by different materials (titanium, ceramic…) or undergo galvanic treatment and thus add a dash of color to the case (I don’t actually have information on this…just guessing).
To guarantee the 150m water resistance all the crowns and pushers are screwed in but VC has devised a system enabling the chronograph pushers to be unlocked with a ¼ turn on the screw.
The design team wanted to create dials very different from what we can see in other sport/casual watches from other brands who offer mostly dark matte dials. Here the dials have been worked with lacquer. The model I was wearing had a beautiful blue dial which depending on the angle of light went from light blue, to two tone to dark blue and all the other shades of blue in between!
The peripheral ring has a circular satin finish, the minutes counter has a velvety finish and the subdials have an interior snail track. Speaking of the subdials one of my pet peeves of the previous model has been fixed: all the subdials are now equal in size!
This is where it gets really interesting. The team at Vacheron Constantin decided that the new Overseas models needed something even more drastic. It wasn’t enough to modify the case shape and add an inhouse caliber but the Overseas needed to have even more versatility. By adding an ingenious strap/bracelet changing system, which includes a system where the buckle can be detached from one strap and placed on another.
The Overseas Chronograph comes with 3 bracelets: steel, alligator and rubber (bearing a Maltese cross motif).
A notable change has also been made to the steel bracelet. The design team wanted to keep the Maltese cross links which had become a true symbol of the Overseas models but decided to tone them down for a more subtle effect. However, a lot of thought, trial and error went into creating the bracelet as the team wanted to have a specific surface finish which could lead one to believe that the link was in 3 rows and not in one piece.
Under the joining point of each bracelet/strap there is a little clasp which can be slightly pushed back to set or release it from the case. Tests to the equivalent of 3 years daily switch were undertaken to assure that this system would be sturdy and reliable (you wouldn’t want your watch to fall off unnoticed).
There is also a brilliant length adjustment mechanism on the bracelet enabling you to add a few millimeters to the length for greater wearing comfort.
Please bear in mind that these are just MY thoughts and impressions and that what may be true today may no longer be valid in 2 months so don’t quote me!
What I like less
I find that the strap/bracelet tappers too fast on the attachment point
The rounder case which takes away from the openly sporty look and feel of the watch
I was a great fan of the original Maltese cross bracelet and liked its brutal look
What I like
Inhouse movement, beautifully finished and filling the whole case
Smooth chronograph pushers
The rotor with wind rose engraving
The interchangeable strap/bracelet system meaning I can have 3different watches in one
The lacquered dials giving immense depth
No unnecessary writing on the dial (ex: automatic, antimagnetic) and subdials all the same size
Even though the Overseas Chronograph has been beefed up in terms of size, the rounder case and more discreet Maltese cross links on the bracelet have actually toned it down more and removed the brutality of the sports look of the 2nd generation. De gustibus non est disputandum so each will need to decide what he/she prefers but you need to give credit to the team who didn’t just make a few minor changes but went all the way and made a major evolution not shying away from their original philosophy even though this meant that some of the hardliners would be thrown off.
However, finally having an inhouse movement, and a beautifully finished one which fully fills the case back, along with the ingenious strap/bracelet changing mechanism make up for all the rest.
If the devil is in the details then one can see his cloven hoofs and pitchfork all over the Overseas
A real great report to provide a good feeling and understanding about the high value of the new Overseas Chronograph to be worn on the wrist not only for a week :-)
This new one (except with just the time and seconds) is what I'm loading up my piggy bank for! I like the blue face. (I probably wouldn't need the rubber band unless I fell overboard while Overseas!!!)
Thanks for the great report.
If I had a chance to wear one...they'd have to come looking for me....
I think I prefer the white / silver version as the date disc is less prominent, since the colour of the date disc and that of the dial sort of merge together. I agree with you that the date is neither a deal maker nor a breaker and a matter of taste. Quite often what does not look good in pictures looks awesome in real life.
However, my favorite is the OS time/date only version in Blue dial. I am a minority among WIS who always falls for the most basic of any collection, and I feel VC has really hit thejackpot with this simple version. Whether one buys the blue, white / silver, or RG versions, it is super handsome. I would pick it with my eyes closed.
I need the contrast of the blue dial, and white date disk with black numbers. I find it makes it easier for me to read the date!
I love the OS Chrono regardless of colour of date disc.
Dan, you are young with young eyes...not to worry.
Dan or me?
hugely since we first crossed paths in 2006/2007.
Wonderful watch and wonderful write up; beautiful photos. I like the watch and the adjustable bracelet, like the three-watches-in-one idea.
Really tempting to get one. I guess I have to wait in Canada. On the other hand 42mm maybe too large for my wrist.
proportions as some 42mm watches can wear smaller than 40mm, so best is to try on the wrist.
I have fallen in love with the new OS. Much more refined, and with the new caliber, the price increase is really worth it in my opinion.
The dial is to die for. Two questions in regards to the lacquer finish:
1) is the lacquer always clear (the color coming from the dial), or is it blue?
2) The sub-dials do not seem to have been lacquered; is this correct?
I am not sure which one of the time-only and chrono model I prefer... I can't wait to see them in the metal.
1- the laquer is always transparent, so the dial is blue
2- the subdials are not laquered as to provide contrast
some more interesting versions coming soon
I like the way you can easily change straps. No special tools needed?
Hi Alex, I understand how the soft iron ring can provide a magnetic resistance of 200 Gauss.
What is meant by "whereas the norm is 60 gauss"? Is this a natural/normal resistance of a "standard" mechanical watch that has no anti-magnetic design elements?
Great Article, but you knew I shared your thoughts on these Gen. 3 Overseas.
Lovely pictures Alex.
I do still love the previous version's bracelet and bezel.
Gen 2 bracelet
The Video from VC is designed to dig a big hole in your bank account, a marketing feat par excellence, irresistable. The Blog to Watch video is very helpful.
I was contemplating what my next watch will be amongst the Trinity Patek, Royal Oak and OS.
I can't nail down on the Patek and I don't like the RO. I didn't like the older version of the OS either.
Somehow, I can't find a Patek sport watch I like. The RO is not appealing to me because of the bezel and the angular crown. The old OS bezel is kind of strange with 8 notches: too many.
I can't wear a bracelet without easy adjustment (for that, I really like the Rolex Easylink).
This new OS collection really helps me to nail down the choice: six notches in the Bezel makes the watch a lot more refined and elegant; the new movement is a determinating factor as well; the three straps and bacelets too. The easy way to change them and the adjustable bracelet is not just a bonus, but a must have for me.
So, I have something to looking forward to; Chrono or not.
Thank you for your great report.
I prefer new 6 sided bezel to previous 8 sided.