As you climb higher and higher up the horological Christmas tree – which, by the way we don’t advise in real life, unless this happens – the stars at the top start to thin out, leaving, at least in days of yore, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet shining brightly as Swiss watchmaking’s ‘big three’. Between them they make some of the finest watches on the planet. But, until now, VC’s main sports collection hasn’t quite stacked up against the iconic Nautilus or the mighty Royal Oak. This year’s SIHH changed all that, with the release of the lauded new Overseas Collection. Who should you buy this for: The horophile who will know that they’ve just received one of the most extraordinary in-house chronograph movements of recent times. What’s the damage: Under $44,000 Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Australian pricing Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph, $43,200
Vacheron Contstantin are renowned as makers of some of the worlds most beautiful and complicated timepieces. They have been making watches since 1755, making them the oldest continuously operating watch brand.
We gave a glimpse of our 48 hours in paradise with the Vacheron Constantin Overseas collection a month ago, but now, with the watches officially revealed and reviewed, it’s time to turn up the envy to unforeseen levels. In addition to mouthwatering shots of the collection, hands-down one of the best in the steel sports category this year, we’re also showing here just how spectacular Lord Howe Island is. From the volcanic peaks, to the friendly schools of fish that mill around your ankles in the shallows, to the outlook from the luxury Capella Lodge where my room had, just months before, been home to Blake Lively during the shooting of shark-as-villain thriller The Shallows. It’s all here, as well as our rationale for why we chose this place to explore the Overseas collection.
I remember the first Vacheron Constantin I ever laid eyes on. It was in a magazine for an Australian retailer. It was an Overseas model and it was a chronograph, but thanks to an interesting take on the bezel, it didn’t strike me as ‘just sporty’ like chronos can be. It had an edge to it. Literally. The Maltese cross tips cut out of the polished bezel made it dressy and daring. The backstory told in a full page ad opposite the watch – of a brand founded on an island in the middle of Lake Geneva that’s been in continuous production since 1755 – only added another layer of intrigue. It was almost Da Vinci Code-like in its imagery and storytelling. I was fascinated. Fast forward to 2016 and several of the elements that first introduced me to the brand are in play. I’m on an island. Lord Howe Island. I’m in possession of the brand new Overseas range in its entirety, including all the interchangeable strap options. All that’s missing is a conspiracy theory, and Audrey Tatou, which is a shame. Over the 48 hours we spent on the island my wrist was exclusively dressed by Vacheron Constantin…. Read More
Was it really necessary? To take a journey involving two flights (one of them aboard a very small plane) to a tropical island somewhere between Sydney and New Zealand that, at any given time, has a maximum of 750 people on it to test out the new Vacheron Constantin Overseas Collection? I would argue that, because Lord Howe Island occupies the very special timezone of UTC +10:30, and is one of the 37 timezones displayed on the gorgeous dial of the World Time, that it wasn’t just necessary… it was meant to be. The beauty of the location – aside from its outrageous natural beauty, good Lord! – was that it provided us the perfect testing ground to put all three new Overseas models, and their conveniently interchangeable strap options, through their paces. Fine dining and fruity cocktails in the restaurant of Capella Lodge, tick – hello tuxedo. A completely deserted beach, our very large outdoor gym for a chronograph session. And a glorious ex-volcano / mountain was our chance to get on top of the world for a view of the World Time. Before you say it, let me jump in, yes it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it, right?
It’s easy to imagine that the world of fine watchmaking is a bubble that begins and ends in Switzerland. And while it’s true that much of the heart and soul of watchmaking lies in the Swiss hills and valleys, from its earliest days travel has been an essential part of horology, and indeed accurate timekeeping has revolutionised how we move across the world. Though based in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin has long realised that they are in fact a global brand, and even in the eighteenth century they had a presence on four continents. From the very beginning they have been open to the world. This philosophical underpinning is epitomised in the third generation of their Overseas collection, which now has everything from time-only pieces to chronographs and world timers. It’s also why I’ve spent the last few days in Tokyo attending an exhibition of the Overseas Tour which features a series of images by famed photographer Steve McCurry. If you don’t recognise the name, there’s no doubt you’ll know his pictures, in particular his iconic and haunting 1984 portrait Afghan Girl. McCurry collaborated with Vacheron Constantin on the Overseas Tour, a photographic journey taken at 12 sites across the globe;… Read More
At the start of the year Vacheron Constantin announced a significant update to its luxury sports watch, the Overseas. A contemporary of Patek’s Nautilus and Audemars’ Royal Oak, for years the Overseas has been the little brother within the famous three, but all that’s set to change, thanks to the revamped new collection that has everything going for it: looks, peerless mechanicals and an impeccable pedigree. At SIHH, we saw time-only, chronograph and perpetual calendar models, and now a world time complication has been added to the mix. Vacheron Constantin’s Traditionnelle world timers are regarded as among the best in the business but, as the name suggests they’re a traditional take on the genre. This latest offering takes the same base, namely the Caliber 2460 WT, and puts it inside the angular steel Overseas case. But what makes this movement so special? Well, it’s the only world time complication that simultaneously displays all 37 time zones, most merely sticking with the regular 24, neglecting those locations where the time is offset by 15 or 30 minutes. Not so Vacheron Constantin. If you’re someone who regularly needs to know the exact time in Caracas (UTC-4:30), Nepal (UTC+5:45) or Adelaide (UTC+9:30) this watch has you covered…. Read More
Following on from a strong SIHH, where Vacheron Constantin premiered an updated Overseas collection, the prestigious maison has unexpectedly released an aggressively priced stainless steel watch in their curvaceous Quai De L’île collection. This surprise release matters not only because it’s another example of a high-end brand releasing an accessible steel model in response to the softening luxury market, but because it’s a marked departure from Vacheron Constantin’s classical aesthetic. Housed within a perfectly sized 41mm cushion case, the Quai de L’île features split-level lugs – a signature Vacheron Constantin touch. Combine this with the sporty dial (in either black or silver) and unusual date pointer and it all adds up to a watch made for everyday life. It looks perfectly at home on both the rubber and alligator deployant strap options. It’s not just the case that’s new either. VC have used a new manufacture movement in this model, the self-winding calibre 5100, with 60-hours of power reserve and a Geneva Seal to boot. Besides requiring that the watch being made in the Canton of Geneva, the Geneva Seal is primarily concerned with movement finishing. So it’s reassuring to know that the movement in this accessible steel watch is of… Read More