It seems that in the past years I have been systematically starting my SIHH articles by saying that it will be a great fair for Vacheron Constantin and 2016 is no exception.
Obviously the highlight for both collectors and the brand is the new version of the Overseas with inhouse movements, but not just any inhouse movement! Certain calibers have been developed specially for this collection including the automatic chronograph Cal 5200 which is nothing less than Vacheron Constantin’s 4th inhouse chronograph caliber in just one year (the other three being reserved for the time being to the Harmony collection)!!!!!
know that you’ll all probably just scroll to the bottom of the article for the Overseas models but let’s be gentlemen and open this article with something for our better halves.
Two years after the 1st series Vacheron Constantin presents a new version of the Metiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements a series of timepieces where the word “ art” has full meaning.
The Fabuleux Ornements (which loosely translates as beautiful ornaments) is inspired by the world of ornaments from different fields and cultures:
- Painted manuscripts from India
- Lace patterns from France
- Silk embroideries from China
- Architectural motifs from Turkey
These watches house the skeletonized calibre 1003 in a 37mm white gold case (rose gold for the French Lace model) with surprising dials using Guillochage, Grand Feu enamel, diamonds, pearls and mother-of-pearl, as well as engraving, glyptics and gemstone cloisonné effects.
Each model is limited to 20 pieces.
Grand Feu champlevé enamelling and hand engraving
Framed by a white gold case topped by a diamond-set bezel, ten vibrant enamel colours blossom on the dial. These shimmering shades form oriental-inspired flowers blooming against a deep purple sky. The richness of Indian illustrations are highlighted by a profusion of intense enamels surrounding the skeletonized calibre, like the floral motifs decorating the margins of ancient oriental writings. The contours of its décor are first traced using the champlevé technique to create cavities separated by thin gold partitions in order to apply the 10 different enamel hues…which is quite a daunting task. The foliage is hand-engraved after enamelling and is one of the most delicate stages, since even the slightest slip of the hand can jeopardise the entire creation.
Chamfering, mother-of-pearl, and half-pearl beads
The dial consists of a chamfered pink gold moucharaby (wooden lattice) motif of which every edge is delicately bevelled by hand. Daintily perched on a natural white mother-of-pearl base, the gold gridwork studded with half-pearl beads echoes the scrolling patterns in Middle Eastern architecture. The meticulously executed decoration on the rings, known as milgrain and featuring strings of tiny bead shapes coined along the edges, add to the magic of the workmanship.
Guillochage, Grand Feu enamelling and gem-setting
A luminous white gold lacework adorns the translucent hand-guilloché Grand Feu enamelled dial. This lace pattern is reminiscent of the grand tradition of French-style embroideries, evoking the dextrous craftsmanship performed with the crochet needle or the spindle. The base of the gold dial is clad in a guilloché motif lending subtle depth to the transparent enamel.
Glyptics, gemstone cloisonné work and engraving
Crafted in white gold according to the cloisonné technique, the dial is carpeted with flowers in jade. Like the silk thread Chinese embroideries embellished with precious fabrics, the stones cut and sculpted according to the glyptic art are adorned with finely engraved gold leaves and pistils. God is in details as can be seen in the veins of the plants and the rounded shape of the petals which endow them with a fascinating depth effect.
After the complication of the ultra slim Patrimony Minute Repeater Vacheron Constantin presents a simple version with subdials at 6 housing Cal 4400 and featuring all the “Patrimony” elements such as bassine case, opaline dial, pearl minutes indexes etc.. My only issue here would be that the case being a mighty 42mm the subseconds dial is a bit too high towards the center of the dial but nevertheless it is bound to become a new classic.
I think this collection is one of my all time favorites from any brand! Period. Well, it is a collection borrowing from other VC collections and not one of its own as these models in the CEP take a model in VC’s regular production and dress them in full platinum: case, crown, buckle and most impressive the sand blasted untreated platinum dial giving for a viciously modern look…even the stitching on the bracelet has platinum thread in it!!
There was already a kind of coolness in the Patrimony Perpetual Calendar as even though it is a reflection of the cosmos there is no real visible movement on it other than the hands and in this CEP version the coolness is taken to a whole new level. The Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Collection Excellence Platine houses the extra slim automatic Cal 1120QP in a 42mm case and limited to 100 pieces.
So here it is ladies and gentlemen, the third generation of the Overseas, originally launched in 1996, revamped in 2004 and reaching a glorious completion in 2016 for its 20th anniversary.
Collectors have been longing for an Overseas with an inhouse movement and open case back and Vacheron Constantin has obliged…and more, since the time only and the chronograph models actually house new calibers (bearing the Geneva Seal) developed specially for this collection (even though they will be used in the future in other timepieces not in the Overseas collection.)
As they say the devil is in the details and the new Overseas models are an evolution from the previous models, the cases are slightly more round for a more versatile look as opposed to the openly brutal sporty look of Overseas Generation 2.
The dial are coated with a translucent blue, silver-toned, rosy beige or grey lacquer – depending on the model – that intensifies the depth effect, the dials alternate between sunburst, snailed and velvety finishes. The gold luminescent facetted hands and hour-markers echo the gold frame surrounding the inner bezel ring.
My only qualm is that I find the bracelet/strap tappers too much and too fast from its junction on the bracelet, but it’s a matter of taste and many may disagree with me.
Before going into specifics of each model here is what all the Overseas models have in common:
- Manufacture automatic movements (with Geneva Seal) and adorned with a wind rose motif
- Anti magnetic soft iron movement ring protecting the movement against magnetism
- Screwed down crown
- Interchangeable bracelet/strap system whereas the user can switch easily from strap (available in rubber and croc) to steel (or gold) without needing any tools via a release mechanism on the strap/bracelet
- The steel bracelets have a length adjustment mechanism
- All models that originally are purchased with steel bracelet will also come with an extra rubber and croc strap along with a steel deployant buckle
- The rose gold models come with two straps: one in leather and the other in rubber, both fitted with an interchangeable pink gold folding clasp. A gold bracelet can be purchased separately
A piece destined to the fairer sex the Overseas small model houses the new automatic manufacture Calibre 5300. Housed in a 37mm steel or pink gold case the bezel is adorned with 84 round-cut diamonds. The 128 component movement supplies a 2 day power reserve. Interesting twist: the sub seconds are at 9 o’clock.
The Overseas Chronograph is equipped with the all new automatic manufacture Calibre 5200. This 263-component calibre is fitted with a column wheel as well as 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 screw shaped like the brand’s signature Maltese cross emblem. This movement is equipped with a twin barrel ensuring over 50 hours of power reserve.
The Overseas Chronograph comes in a stainless steel or 18K pink gold 42.5 mm-diameter case. Its screwed-down pushpieces, crown and caseback guarantee water-resistance to 150 metres.
This Overseas model is equipped with the all new automatic manufacture Calibre 5100 and housed in a 41 mm-diameter case in stainless steel or 18K pink gold. Calibre 5100 is composed of 172 parts, beats at the rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour and is endowed with more than 60-hour power reserve guaranteed by its twin barrels its movement. The Overseas time only is water resistant to 150 metres.
I’m a sucker for complications in a sporty case and the Overseas Perpetual Calendar strikes all the right notes. The 41.5mm white gold case (50m water resistance) houses the tried and tested ultra thin Cal 1120 QP only 4.05mm tick and 276 components (40h power reserve).
Does this watch remind you of anything? Yes!!!! The Ref 222 that so many (including yours truly) have been wanting to see coming back. Obviously it bears all the Overseas elements but there is a je ne sais quoi which links it to the 222 and WOW! I love this watch, I would looooovvveeee to have it. It is all the way on top of my wishlist along with the Historiques 1955 Cornes de Vache chronograph!
The Overseas ultra thin is housed in a 40mm white gold case (and bracelet) housing the ultra slim automatic cal 1120 (2.45mm tick) and only available at Vacheron Constantin boutiques.
of the blue-dialed versions of the new OS in your pictures
Sorry I missed SIHH this year. I love the new Overseas models and can't wait to see them in the metal.
more fun than SIHH
As said in other posts, kudos to the design team, the new Overseas is imho better integrated in the Vacheron brand, the design is more Vacheron, the calibers are top notch, and it is still without any question an identified overseas, great great job
Thanks for the report, the two ultra thin are gorgeous ! I will dream aobut both of them
Many thanks for the wonderful report Alex.
In the Overseas Ultra Thin I would have loved a Malte cross in the right bottom corner, as a sort of tribute to the grandfather 222.
Alex, thank you for a beautifully compiled presentation - excellent scans coupled with your personal comments and thoughts makes for compulsive reading.
Quite clearly, Metiers d'Art Fabuleux Ornements will not be found in everyone's shopping basket, however, the designs and workmanship highlighted are nothing less than spectacular. The four pieces featured leaves one both speechless and breathless. A word of praise for the 'backroom' team that makes it all possible. Well done!
On a personal note the Patrimony 42mm has caught my eye in pink gold.
The Overseas certainly makes it's mark. I'm confident that fellow Loungers will reflect there choices in no small measure. Very attractive designs, specs and colourways leaves one spoilt for choice.
Let's hope it's a bumper year for VC - the 'kick-start' looks extremely promising.
Have a wonderful show...
long VC has come since 2005. Now I think it is safe to say that 98-100% of VC movements are in-house. That is an incredible achivement.
I really like the new Overseas based on what I have seen on the VC websit e and different blogs.
- My favourites are the Ultra thin and Ultra thin QP, but these are going to be very expensive. Hopefully VC will launch a SS /Titanium version of them both near future. The Ultra-Thin QP is argubably the most badass watch out there, and the person who owns it must have the right personality to carry it off.
- For the remaining mortals, I then really like the Time Only OS. I think I like the Blue dial the most. I can imagine myself owning this watch. It ticks all the right boxes - a SS watch (with interchangeable strap), handsome appearance, I am assuming not very thick, and in-house movement with transparent caseback. And most of all a sense of rarity which no Rolex / Omega / Seiko / etc. can ever give you. I can totally imgine this in different version which would include Titanium case / Black Dial / Guilloche etc. etc.
- I am growing fond of the chronograph. Is there any reason why the date window is positioned at 4-5 O Clock.? Is this a technical reason or design reason? Maybe in the future, if the colour of the date disc is not a prominent white but closer to the colour of the dial it might appear better. But again, I do not think it is as much of an issue. I really like this watch and I think it must be seen in its own context and not compared to the previous version. The fact that it is more rounded makes it a bit more futuristic and will age better from now onwards.
- I am not too fond of the Patrimony 42mm but I can understand that there are markets / people where a larger size is welcome.
especially when it is not a big date. The contrast makes it easier for my eyes to actually read the date in the small guichet window. I do not have your young eyes.
Regret to have missed this year's gathering . Nevertheless , your report is a good consolation, Alex. The overseas with a in-house caliber is great news, but the blue dial greater. Think many have expected this since last year.
Personally, I find the perpetual in platinum the outstanding one in this year's new collection.
Have a great show, guys.
Us, KH tan in urban jurgensen prototype and myself having "our own SIHH lunch" in Singapore discussing SIHH new watches.
Thank you for the great report!
I bought my first VC just a few months ago and have really fallen in love with the brand. It really does look like it´s been a wonderful fair for VC and it´s been great to see so many new releases, especially all that has happened with the OS series!
start deraming of the 2nd and on and on and on
Thanks for a brilliant report, Alex. I like the silver dialled time only Overseas in SS and with a rubber strap. The slims are beautiful too. EP Patromony QP isn't too shabby either. And the Metiers d'art are stunning.
Thank you for your report.
Among all, coming back of 222 as "Overseas Ultra-Thin" is the happiest news
for many fans including me.
see it in steel
Thanks for the great article Alex.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can we have the Ultra Thins in steel?? I'd definitely take one then!
The exhibition caseback on the OS is a great touch. I also really like the shade of blue - which, I am sure, has a name.
I always enjoy your articles; I especially enjoy your conversational style - which, and I know this from experience, seems easy to do but isn't.
I know I'd enjoy going to the SIHH exhibtion - perhaps some year before too long.
Thank you for a wonderful article.
regular dark blue with laquering giving it different shades going from almost black to light blue depending on the light.
Hope to have you with us at SIHH soon