Audemars Piguet has the Royal Oak, Patek Philippe has the Nautilus, and Vacheron Constantin has the Overseas. While these three members of the Holy Trinity of Watches established their reputations by crafting elegant dress watches and exquisite haute horology masterpieces back in the day, today their luxury sports watches are just as important. Although much as been written about AP’s Royal Oak and Patek’s Nautilus, Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas has been somewhat overshadowed. Let’s get a closer look at this luxury sports watch from one of the best watch manufactures in the world and see just what it’s all about.
The Precursor of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas, the 222
While the Royal Oak and the Nautilus were created by famed watch designer, Gerald Genta, the Overseas was designed by his apprentice, Jorg Hysek. But the first version did not have the Overseas moniker yet. In 1977, the Vacheron Constantin 222 made its debut to–you guessed it–celebrate the company’s 222nd anniversary. Adhering to the fashion of the era, the Vacheron 222 was a sports watch through and through and nothing like what the company had produced in the past.
It had a stainless steel case with an integrated bracelet with hexagonal links along with a distinctive notched bezel and the famous Maltese Cross motif embedded into the case just under 5 o’clock. The dial was kept nice and clean with just a pair of hour and center hands and a date window at 3 o’clock. The 222 was eventually discontinued in the 1980s.
First Generation of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas
In 1996, Vacheron Constantin brought back their 1970’s sports watch but this time revamped to suit modern expectations and with a new name. The first generation of the Vacheron Overseas (1996 – 2004) shared many of the same design traits of the 222, however, the modern sports watch was positioned as a sporty yet elegant timepiece for the jet set.
Depending on the model, case size options ranged from 37mm to 35mm to 24mm. The bezel design changed to include accents mimicking the tips of the Maltese cross while the center links of the integrated bracelet were simpler rectangular shaped. Over the next few decades, the Overseas underwent several design modifications and was available with a range of different functions such as the chronograph.
Second Generation of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas
In 2004, Vacheron Constantin unveiled the next chapter of the Overseas’ story with revamped models. One of the most notable changes was to the integrated bracelet, which now included center links inspired, yet again, by the Maltese cross.
Moreover, the Overseas case grew to 42mm, further emphasizing the sporty nature of this Vacheron Constantin timepiece. Just like previous versions, the particular generation of the Overseas was offered in different materials such as steel or gold, and with different functions from time and date models to chronographs to perpetual calendar chronographs.
One model we particularly love is the stainless steel Overseas ref. 47040 with a fresh light dial. The watch highly legible thanks to the clean design, luminescent hour markers and hands, and there’s even a discreet date window tucked in between 4 and 5 o’clock. The lack of crown guards lends a sleek silhouette to this generation of the Overseas and really lets the unique bezel stand out.
Third Generation of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas
In 2016, Vacheron Constantin revamped the design yet again of the Overseas sport watch. This time, rather than eight notches on the bezel, there are six and the case shape was refined slightly. The biggest change, however, is the Overseas’ easy-to-use interchangeable strap system. As a result, wearers of the Overseas can now switch out the metal bracelet for a leather or rubber strap, giving a whole new look to the watch.
What’s more, the back of the watches now feature exhibition casebacks for a view of the in-house movements within. There are several sizes available within the new Overseas line, ranging from 43.5mm down to 37mm and some in between. Ever since the new generation of the Overseas came out, Vacheron Constantin has continuously added new models to the collection, underlining the company’s focus on their sports watch offering.
Regardless of which generation of the Overseas you opt for, they are all incredibly well-built watches. And we wouldn’t expect anything less from the oldest watch manufacturer in continuous operation. With an uninterrupted history that has spanned over two and a half centuries, a Vacheron Constantin watch will always be crafted to perfection.