The Vacheron Constantin Overseas has always been a strong suit in Vacheron’s repertoire. It is inspired by Gerald Genta, penned the original and yes, its first formal overhaul was hugely well received.
Here we are in 2016 and the Overseas has seen a fairly comprehensive, albeit polarizing redesign once again. Now I’m always a sucker for a bright blue dial, and I love a good clean and legible chronograph, so the chance to wear this watch offered me hands-on time that I couldn’t possibly turn down. I’d been hearing a handful of gripes and groans over some of Vacheron Constantin’s design decisions, but as with countless times before, I couldn’t help but wonder how valid the criticisms would prove after a proper week of wrist time.
There’s no denying that the Overseas is a stunning sports watch. Its somewhat angular and lug-less case, gearlike bezel, and beautifully integrated bracelet make the Overseas well worthy of comparison against the likes of the Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus.
One of the big design details that many enthusiasts (myself included) were keen on with the previous Overseas was its big date at the twelve o’clock position. Your typical 369 chronograph will often forgo a date, or drop it in between the 4 and 5 indices, as we see with this new version of the Overseas. The past model’s big date window helped it stand out further from the pack, and I’m pretty bummed out over the change.
There’s so much I do love about the new Overseas, including its new in-house 5200 caliber movement, it gloriously deep blue dial, and its quick change strap system, which I’ll touch on a little bit later. Moving the date and evening out the diameter of its subdials adds to the overall simplicity, clarity, and legibility of the piece, I’ll give them that much. Even now as I flip back through the imagery from my week on the wrist, part of me wants to be annoyed about its date window position, but the more I flip back and forth between the old and new models, the more I’m willing to concede that this new Overseas is just a hands down nicer timepiece.
One of the greatest elements that Vacheron Constantin brought to the table with this new Overseas is the clever new quick-change strap system. Every Overseas is sold with a steel bracelet, a soft rubber strap, and a leather strap. Of the many “quick change” bracelet-to-strap setups I’ve seen, this is the easiest. A small tab on the backside of the strap simply needs to be pulled back to release the strap from the case, and because the latching mechanism of the strap is spring loaded, you just slide the strap into place until you hear it click.
Experience has proven that one challenge of this configuration is the risk of scratching the case during installation. As delicate as one can be, the battle of sharp edge versus sharp edge can be tricky at the best of times. In addition, the fact that the strap only attaches to roughly half an inch of the case is a little disconcerting at first. However I have to consider the fact that Vacheron Constantin required years to develop this quick-change system. I still have to wonder about the durability of the strap attachment bits. Only time will tell how well this system will last after years of wear.
On the plus side, this ability to swap straps so easily makes the Vacheron Constantin Overseas and incredibly versatile timepiece. Its bracelet is one of the most comfortable I’ve worn to date, and the same can be said for its rubber strap. On bracelet or on leather the Overseas can easily be passed off as a much more dressy timepiece than it really is. With rubber, on the other hand, it can easily be paired with casual denim or shorts and runners depending on the occasion.
For the most part — being the “captain casual” that I am — the rubber strap was easily my default, providing me the ability to dress the watch up or down all while maintaining a great level of comfort. If there’s one critique I can make in regards to the strap setups on the Overseas, it’s the lack of consistency between the strap holes on the rubber versus the leather. For some strange reason the rubber strap fit me like a glove, whereas the leather’s hole spacing proved to be a little off. I only had the option of it being a little too loose or a little too snug. With both straps as standard equipment I would expect their dimensions to be standardized.
Of the handful of timepieces I’ve worn for On The Wrist reviews, I’d be quick to argue that this Vacheron Constantin Overseas was one of the hardest to hand back. While I didn’t particularly jive with its more dressy leather strap, both its rubber strap and integrated bracelet were a remarkably comfortable fit worthy of wrist time in all sorts of occasions. Sure, I got my nose out of joint over the date window shuffle, but all kidding aside this is one of the most visually appealing blue dials you can get your hands on right now, let alone the fact that this is coming to us via none other than Vacheron Constantin.