Hands-on Review – Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar (Live pics & price) – and why a QP is relevant in such a sports-watch
The new Overseas collection by Vacheron Constantin, introduced this year at the SIHH, ticks all the right boxes. The watch’ design is pure, inspired, the finish is exquisite, and overall it’s desirable and luxurious… It is actually difficult to find flaws here. Whether we talk about the normal 3-hander, the Chronograph or the Ultra-Thin edition; when we got to see these new models we are very impressed. There’s one version that we didn’t show to you, yet, and this is the flagship one: the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar. This watch does bring a question to the table: is such a refined movement with perpetual calendar complication useful and relevant in a sport-oriented watch? Is it similar to a 633 bhp twin-turbo W12 engine in a delicate Bentley Continental GT Speed? Let’s just enjoy the beauty of it, please!
You’re probably already quite aware of the new Overseas collection by Vacheron Constantin, as it received a rather impressive coverage from the specialised press. Saying that most of us were impressed would be an understatement. Whether we look at the normal 3-hander, the Chronograph or the Ultra-Thin edition, all of them are very beautiful and desirable, although we have to admit that the charm of the Overseas Ultra-Thin is overwhelming. In terms of design, it is a success. There’s a strong link with the original sports-luxury concept of the Vacheron Constantin 222. It also includes all the codes of the brand in a bold but also delicate manner.
In terms of movements, the new Overseas collection is also impressive. All watches in the collection come with the Geneva Hallmark, and the 3-hander and the chronograph feature new and technologically advanced in-house calibres. Finally, in terms of finish, it is just exquisite. The bracelet alone, with multiple finishings and even inward angles sums up the attention to detail that Vacheron Constantin has for a watch. And we’re not talking about a dress watch, but one that is intended to be a sporty watch. The collection has strong arguments to fight against its competition: the Patek Nautilus on one side and the AP Royal Oak on the other side.
Here is the last model of the new Overseas collection, which we haven’t covered yet, here on Monochrome-Watches. A version that can be seen as the flagship of the collection and, at the same time, it was the least expected edition, simply because of its delicate, luxurious and complicated movement; something that might not be the first idea you have of a sports watch. If you look at the competition, Patek Philippe (which is known for its complicated watches) for instance, don’t have a QP in the Nautilus. They offer gold editions, they have a dual-time chronograph and an annual calendar… but no QP. Audemars Piguet on the other hand do offer highly complicated models in the Royal Oak collection – there’s a QP and even a Grande Complication (minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph and QP). Who’s right in the concept? Maybe none of them. Or all of them. Maybe the best idea is to just enjoy the beauty of the watch and its complex movement. And this is the case with the Vacheron Constantin Overseas.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar in details
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is based on the same concept as the normal Ultra-Thin version. The exception is the QP module, and for the rest it’s approximately the same watch – same base calibre, same grey/beige dial, same white gold case and bracelet, however with some small differences.
Design-wise, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar keeps the exact same design as the rest of the collection. A tonneau-shaped case is used as a base – more rounded than before and also more elegant, less “raw” than the previous edition of the Overseas – and on top of it is added a perfectly round bezel, circling the dial. This bezel is in line with the previous Overseas collection, and shows a notched profile, reminiscent of the shape of a Malte Cross – the emblem of Vacheron Constantin. Compared to the previous Overseas collection, it went down from eight notches, to six on the new models. We can find this specific bezel on all the other editions.
Then, this case is slim, very slim, and it measures only 8.10mm in height – which has to be regarded as rather impressive considering that we’re talking about a sporty watch with an antimagnetic case and a perpetual calendar module. That’s only half of a millimeter more than the Overseas Ultra-Thin (at 7.50mm). And just like the latter, the case of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is in 18k white gold… this certainly supports to the luxury feel of the complication. However the choice for white gold over steel has more implications: this has an effect on the price, it makes the watches more vulnerable to scratches and dings, and ultimately the watch is heavier than a steel version. On the other hand, white gold is extremely subtle and discreet. The difference with the normal Ultra-Thin version is not only the thickness of the watch, the diameter increases from 40mm to 41.5mm. On the wrist this is hardly noticeable and despite the increased size it remains a very comfortable watch.
Just like the other watches of the collection, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is delivered with 3 bracelets / straps in the box, with an extremely simple and practical system to exchange the strap/bracelet. You’ll get a dark grey alligator strap, a black rubber strap (both share the same white gold folding clasp) and of course, the white gold integrated bracelet. Just like we told you with the Ultra-Thin, this bracelet is just stunning. Its look ‘different’, and whether you like it or not, its finishing is simply stunning. It alternates between brushed surfaces, polished bevels on the sides and sharp, internal angles in-between the links… and these angles, like those in a movement, can only be polished by hand. Imagine the amount of time required to finish such a bracelet. Impressively qualitative. And comfortable too – as the old editions of the Overseas tend to “shave” the wrist.
The layout of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is typical for Vacheron Constantin, as it uses a known QP module. We find back the specific 48-month sub-dial at 12, displaying the months of four years, including the months of the leap year. The rest is traditional – date at 3, day at 9 and moon phase at 6. Because of the various finishings applied on the dial (sun ray, velvet, concentric pattern) in a single colour, which beautifully matches with the case, the look of this QP edition remains rather sporty, casual-chic and discreet. It doesn’t feel like being a piece of delicate horology, like a Patrimony Contemporaine QP can be – although it sports the exact same movement, complication and dial layout. It’s a matter of integration to the overall design – and it works.
In terms of movement, no big innovations here but don’t get me wrong, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual is powered by a very, very fine movement. The base movement is well-known and praised calibre 1120 – the same as used in the ‘normal’ Overseas Ultra-thin – with an additional QP module on top. This movement used to be the reference for thin automatic high-end watches for decades and still, to this date, is exactly that. It’s still one of the finest calibres on the market, although it has to be sad that only VC and AP are allowed to use it. Altough the Overseas is a sports watch, it still comes with the precious Geneva Hallmark stamped on one of its bridges.
This calibre 1120 QP is perfectly executed and features a gold rotor that is shaped like a wind rose. Bridges are chamfered and polished by hand, the main plate is circular grained, the levers, gears and wheels are hand-finished on all surfaces and the bridges show continuous Geneva stripes. It comprises 276 components all packed in a slim height of 4.05mm. The movement boasts 40 hours of power reserve. Note that the movement is circled by a soft-iron ring and this is supposed to have enough antimagnetic properties to protect the movement from daily exposure to magnetism, while still leaving the movement visible through the sapphire crystal pane in the caseback.
Conclusion about the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar
To answer the question in the introduction, yes, such a complicated movement is relevant in the Overseas. Of course, a simple time-only movement is more easily understandable in a sports-watch context. However, the Overseas is not just a sports-watch. It is a luxury sports-watch, made with a superlative attention to details. With a perpetual calendar, in this bold but refined case, is really enjoyable. For once, this is a QP that you shouldn’t be scared to wear on a daily basis – and even more. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, we would prefer to see it in stainless steel – and not only for the price level. However most importantly, it is a stunning watch. So please, let us just enjoy the beauty of the superb slim case, of the exquisitely finished case and bracelet, combined with this oh-so nice ultra-thin movement with perpetual calendar that is stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva. Please… let’s enjoy.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is a non-limited edition, only available in 18k white gold with grey dial (for the moment), only in the official Vacheron Constantin boutiques and comes at a retail price of € 98,300 Euros. More details on the dedicated Overseas website.