Among the “Holy Trinity” of watchmaking—Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin—Vacheron has always struck me as the enthusiast’s choice. While Patek and AP can be seen regularly gracing the wrists of athletes, rockstars, and other rich and famous folks, Vacheron is notably absent on the wrists of this highly visible and influential clientele. This habit of overlooking the world’s oldest continually operating watch brand—since 1755—by the trendsetters among us is their loss and our gain. It means that hiding in plain sight are some exceptional timepieces ready and willing to be worn by those who know well enough to pick them.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas is an especially great place to look if one wants to dip their toes into the brand. This model, in particular, is the second generation Overseas dual time. It was introduced in 2006 and was the first time we saw a dual time complication in the Overseas line, even going back to 1977 when the model was called the 222. Over the years, this model has seen various updates —much more so than its integrated bracelet competitors in the Nautilus and Royal Oak—but overall maintains the same spirit. Also, though it lacks some of the newer models’ modern functionality, this second-generation is seen by many as the best generation of the model since its inception.
This example specifically is a stainless steel dual time reference 47450 with a deep blue dial. It measures 42mm in diameter and 12.1mm thick. It’s not a particularly thin watch, but considering the 150m water resistance and added anti-magnetism protection, I’m impressed by its dimensions. Included are a navy blue leather strap and lighter blue rubber strap, which can be swapped out relatively easily with the screwed lugs.
The third generation Overseas has a nifty quick switch system, which is more convenient, but the screw lug system on this generation is unquestionably more secure and durable. It also allows the bracelet and straps to have greater articulation making the watch wearable on a broader range of wrist sizes. While this may seem like a small detail, comfort is paramount in watch design, especially with integrated bracelet watches, which have limited strap options. In fact, this “small” detail is why enthusiasts often consider this generation to be their favorite.
Studying the case and bracelet further, you’ll notice the subtle elements of the Maltese cross—the brand’s logo—integrated into the bezel’s notches and even in the shape of the links in the bracelet. This type of integration of a logo into functional components of the watch is hard to do well, but Vacheron does a great job of not forcing it. This design touch also goes a long way in making the Overseas stand out as its own watch in the integrated sports watch category. Vacheron intelligently gave the watch an original look and avoided some common design traits—like exposed bezel screws— seen on other integrated sports watches and, in doing so, gave this watch an original personality and style.
The dial of this watch is one of the main indicators that this a second generation Overseas. The configuration is laid out in a charmingly asymmetric fashion. In the top right subdial is the date, to the left—over by ten o’clock— is the power reserve indicator, and at six is a simple 12,3,6,9 sub-dial with a single hour hand displaying the second timezone. Finally, all nestled up against the six o’clock subdial is the day-night indicator. All the essentials of a good travel watch are accounted for and legible. Are there simpler ways to display this info? Sure, but this dial offers something else that’s harder to manufacture, character. Something about the combination of the particular shade of blue, the typeface used, and the layout are playful and inviting, and I love that. This watch has plenty of seriousness in being such a high-quality timepiece, and the dial keeps it from being intimidating.
Inside the Overseas beats the in house caliber 1222SC. It’s a durable automatic winding movement with a 40-hour power reserve. My only gripe is that while I concede that resisting magnetism and water is easier done with a closed caseback like this, it’s a shame you can’t see the movement. Vacheron’s movement finishing is second to none—the result of honing your craft over the course of 265 years—and really deserves to be admired. But alas, like the brand itself, the high quality of the movement finishing can be another insider secret for those who choose this Vacheron Constantin Overseas over more trendy names.