Available in the shop: The Vacheron Constantin Overseas, an integrated contender

Available in the shop: The Vacheron Constantin Overseas, an integrated contender

Today, the high-end end luxury steel sports watch represents the ne plus ultra of the horological status symbols. And that lofty summit is dominated by those lofty stalwarts, the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. And while the view from the top is undeniably spectacular, it’s also crowded, and one of the watches edging ever closer to the top is Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas.

Before we find out just what makes the Overseas such a contender for integrated steel perfection, let’s briefly explore the backstory of this iconic watch. In the late 1970s, Vacheron Constantin was gearing up to celebrate their 222nd anniversary, and what would normally have been a joyous occasion was one fraught with the underlying tensions of a Swiss watch industry in trouble. Vacheron Constantin recognized masters of dress watches needed to do something different. So the Geneva-based brand turned to a young designer by the name of Jorg Hysek. Hysek’s response to the brief, known as the reference 222 became the primogenitor for the Overseas and featured a slim, barrel-shaped cased with a distinctive bracelet and Maltese Cross inspired bezel.

Vacheron Constantin's foray into the stainless steel sports-chic integrated bracelet watch genre was the 222, ref. 44018, designed by Jörg Hysek was launched in 1977 (Image: sothebys.com)
Vacheron Constantin's foray into the stainless steel sports-chic integrated bracelet watch genre was the 222, ref. 44018, designed by Jörg Hysek was launched in 1977 (Image: sothebys.com)

Fast forward to 1996, the heyday of the mechanical watchmaking renaissance, and the first generation of the Overseas, the spiritual successor of the 222, was born. This watch, 37mm across and with 150M of water resistance, exaggerated the Maltese cross elements found on the 222, most notably on the bracelet. In 2004 the second generation was released, sportier and more refined at the same time. New complications like the dual time were added. It was clear the Overseas was finding its feet.

The Vacheron Constantin 222 was re-imagined as the Overseas and launched in 1996
The Vacheron Constantin 222 was re-imagined as the Overseas and launched in 1996
Vacheron Constantin Overseas date versions from 2004
Vacheron Constantin Overseas date versions from 2004

The third — and current — iteration of the Overseas was debuted in 2016, 20 years after its official 1996 debut. Once again, the now-iconic design has been polished and preened to near perfection. Not only are the bezel, case and bracelet more harmonious than ever (many applauded the move of the date window from 4:30 to 3), and as impeccably finished as you’d expect from a ‘Holy Trinity’ brand, but there are some significant improvements for the wearer. Notably, the introduction of a quick-change strap system which offers both security and ease of use. Add to this the fact that Vacheron Constantin bundles bracelet, leather and rubber with every watch; you have a watch ready for any occasion. Of course, the movement inside this 41mm case was as impressive as the outside. The modern Caliber 5100 is beautifully finished and boasts a 22k gold rotor, along with a prestigious Geneva seal of quality.

The introduction of a quick-change strap system which offers both security and ease of use. Add to this the fact that Vacheron Constantin bundles bracelet, leather and rubber with every watch
The introduction of a quick-change strap system which offers both security and ease of use. Add to this the fact that Vacheron Constantin bundles bracelet, leather and rubber with every watch

Vacheron Constantin Overseas 4500V/110A-B128

This version, the 4500V, is perhaps the most famous of all the third generation Overseas. While it may lack the complication of the chronograph or the svelte profile of the ultra-thin, it does possess an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous blue dial, rich and glossy, dark and entrancing. Other brands may have integrated models with blue dials, but not like this.

Available in the shop: The Vacheron Constantin Overseas, an integrated contender
Available in the shop: The Vacheron Constantin Overseas, an integrated contender
The Overseas Auto 4500V/110A-B128
The Overseas Auto 4500V/110A-B128

For a long time, people slept on just what a quality piece of watchmaking the current generation Overseas is, but now they’ve well and truly woken up, as it is increasingly difficult to find these superb watches at retail. So when we say this clean 2019 example from Watchfinder & Co won’t stick around for long, trust us.

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Felix Scholz

Felix Scholz has spent the last decade covering watches from his home in Australia. Given this, it's surprising that he still struggles with time zones. Over the years he's become a firm believer that less is more when it comes to watch design – except when a rainbow bezel is involved. He's written for numerous titles including Hodinkee, GQ, A Collected Man and more. These days he looks after the Australian edition of Revolution and takes a break from writing about watches to talk about them, as the co-host of OT: The Podcast.

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