The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 35mm untweaks my tourb for this reason…Zach Blass
Let’s get a little personal here. I have always been a fan of the current generation Overseas. I appreciate the distinct visual aesthetic, particularly the shade of blue on the dial, and applaud how Vacheron Constantin is the only member of the Holy Trinity to use an interchangeable system on their integrated-bracelet sports watch design. A deterrent for me though, aside from the fact it is not necessarily in my budget, in terms of purchasing the marquee 41mm model, was not its diameter, but rather its lug-to-lug span of 49mm. To be clear, with my ~6.5 inch wrist I could pull it off, but a smaller size would be that much better for me. Now, Vacheron Constantin does offer a 37mm Overseas, but this model has one feature that gives me the ick, and that is an asymmetrically placed running seconds counter at the 9 o’clock position. This is why at Watches & Wonders 2023, I was very excited to see the debut of 34.5mm and 35mm models that utilise a central seconds hand – offering better dial purity and symmetry to a midsize Overseas model.
While scaled down, nothing is sacrificed externally. The case retains its handsome mixed set of finishes, largely brushed with accents of polish on the Maltese cross bezel, edges of the case, and edges of the Maltese cross links of the interchangeable bracelet. Functionally speaking, the smaller case even retains the 150-metre depth rating of its larger 41mm sibling. Most brands would have settled for 50 metres in this sort of scale-down, and I am so glad Vacheron is above that sort of cop-out.
Regardless of the case material used, whether stainless steel or 18k 5N pink gold, all of these midsize Overseas watches are 9.33mm thick. However, models that have a polished metal bezel are 34.5mm in diameter, while those with diamond-set bezels are a touch larger at 35mm. This is understandable as the extra half millimetre affords them the necessary real estate to properly set the diamonds within the bezel. This sort of subtle enlargement is standard operating procedure for watch manufacturers when introducing gemsetting into a design.
With the return to the usage of a central seconds hand, the 34.5mm and 35mm have much cleaner and purer-looking dials – only briefly interrupted by a framed date complication at 3 o’clock. I think it’s great that there are two fan-favourite dial colour configurations to choose from, but the next design leap for Vacheron is to introduce dial-matching date discs. Not a dealbreaker, just my one point of constructive dial criticism. I also hope to see black and silver dials follow up the current blue and pink dials.
With a smaller dial, you still have three central hands, twelve applied hour indices, and a hashed minutes track, but compared to the 41mm model, there is no dual outer tracks. The 41mm time-and-date Overseas actually has two outer minutes/seconds rings, which can feel a bit cluttered, so I’m glad to see these smaller models not forcing that design aspect into the reduced dial space. It also just looks cleaner, regardless of size.
As we have come to expect with the Overseas collection, these 34.5mm and 35mm models each include three interchangeable straps – a case-matching bracelet, rubber strap, and leather strap you can easily swap between with just a finger. The bracelet finishing is impeccable, with a masterful continuation of the polished line of the case bevels into the shoulders of the links. In fact, as the links articulate you can see that the entire perimeter of each Maltese cross link is polished which results in some stunning light play during a wrist roll. The largely vertically brushed finish is rich as well, the graining of the lines coming through even more on the pink gold bracelet. As you may have guessed, I am a sucker for a great bracelet. I am not dismissing the included rubber and leather straps though. The rubber is great for making the watch feel a bit more casual, and the leather more smart casual, or even formal.
With the case, dial, and strap aspects I have just run through, it is clear why I’ve said nothing externally has been compromised to accommodate the smaller size. Internally, however, is a different discussion. One thing I really appreciate about the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 1921 is the fact that whether you buy the 36.5mm model or 40mm model, both use the same exact calibre – though the same cannot be said for the smallest mechanical Overseas.
Now, I get that using the in-house 5100 calibre within the 41mm Overseas may not be possible in these midsize models, but it is a bit of a shame that the automatic 1088/1 movement offers only 40 hours of power reserve and does not bear the Geneva hallmark. To its credit, however, the 1088/1 does have a full balance bridge for shock resistance – which the calibre 5100 does not.
All in all, it may seem like a small detail, but the simple switch back to a central seconds hand, rather than having a 9 o’clock small seconds counter, is a major improvement in the realm of their more midsize Overseas. Honestly, I think the 37mm Overseas watches should be phased out, and instead replaced with the smallest diameter Overseas which can use the 5100 like the 41mm. As a trinity, I think Vacheron should consider having this 34.5mm/35mm range complemented by say, 38mm and 41mm models, both using the 5100 movement – and everybody wins.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Self-Winding 34.5mm and 35mm pricing and availability
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas self-winding 35mm collection will be exclusive to Vacheron Constantin boutiques, with the exception of the reference 4605V/200A-B971.
Price: A$38,600, €26,000 (blue dial, steel case), A$51,000, €34,000 (pink dial, steel case), A$86,500, €57,000 (blue dial, gold case), A$97,000, €64,000 (blue dial, gold case, diamonds)
|34.5mm (D) x 9.33mm (T) (non-set models)
35mm (D) x 9.33mm (T) (diamond-set models)
|Stainless steel 18k 5N pink gold
|Translucent blue or pink lacquer sunburst with gold indices
|Sapphire front and back
|Steel or 18k 5N pink gold Maltese cross motif bracelet with additional calfskin leather and rubber straps
|1088/1, in-house, automatic, 22k gold oscillating rotor
|Hours, minutes, date
|Boutique exclusives except for 4605V/200A-B971
|A$38,600, €26,000 (blue dial, steel case)
A$51,000, €34,000 (pink dial, steel case)
A$86,500, €57,000 (blue dial, gold case)
A$97,000, €64,000 (blue dial, gold case, diamonds)