Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas family is the brand’s luxury sports watch proposal, a well-furnished collection with everything from simple three-handers to sophisticated perpetual calendars, tourbillons and chronographs. The third-generation Overseas family was introduced in 2016 and given its vocation as a travel watch, the appearance of the Dual Time model in 2018 was a welcome addition. The latest Dual Time model, which we have for our hands-on session, is this black beauty. With an automatic manufacture movement, a highly practical dual-time function, resistance to water and magnetism, a beefy power reserve of 60 hours, dashing good looks, not one but three different straps, and the easiest interchangeable strap system on the market today… the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time is packed to the gills with assets.
The genesis of the luxury sports watch has been told countless times. Suffice it to say that the leader of the pack was AP’s Royal Oak of 1972 followed in quick succession by PP’s Nautilus in 1976 and VC’s 222 in 1977 – the first two designed by the mythical Gérald Genta and the 222, to coincide with Vacheron’s 222nd anniversary, by Jorg Hysek. In just five years, a triumvirate of the most emblematic watches in this genre appeared on the market and have dominated it ever since.
Although the 222 was discontinued in the mid-1980s, it is considered the ancestor of the Overseas collection, first introduced in 1996. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the evolution of the 222 and the birth of the Overseas (you can watch Part I and Part II on the evolution of this collection with comments by VC’s very own Christian Selmoni), the watch we are looking at today belongs to the third generation Overseas family released in 2016.
It did seem odd at the time (2016) that the complication that best captures the travel spirit of the Overseas family – a straightforward Dual Time/GMT – didn’t appear in the first batch of Overseas watches. For travellers, the complex Overseas World Time (with 37 time zones no less!) was the only option until 2018 when the Dual Time finally made its debut. Retailing in steel for EUR 13,000 less than the World Time, the Dual Time filled and fills an important gap in the collection.
Eminently practical, GMT or dual-time watches are not just for airborne globetrotters or PanAm pilots. They provide vital information for people with business interests in another country or those of us with family/friends living abroad who don’t appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night.
If you were a Lilliputian, this is not a case you could scale with ease. Like all Overseas, the formidable architecture of the case is composed of stacked geometric shapes and contrasting finishes on the surfaces. With its 41mm diameter and 12.8mm thickness (weighs approx. 176g on steel bracelet), there is no denying that this case has a commanding, virile presence exuding a dynamic, sporty personality. And don’t forget, although the case size is slightly larger and thicker than similar models like the AP Royal Oak Dual Time, the water-resistance of this Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time is a full 150m.
The Overseas has true “luxury sports watch” credentials enhanced with a pratical dual time function
A three-tiered construction, the top layer is the hallmark six-notched bezel (designed to evoke the arms of the brand’s insignia Maltese Cross) sitting on a round plinth, which in turn rests on the lugs. Each part is decorated with a different finish: the bezel is polished; the plinth features a circular satin brush, and the lugs have a vertical satin-brush finish. That’s a lot of attention to detail. One thing that did surprise me was the amount of light the polished bezel manages to reflect.
User-friendliness is a prerequisite of a dual-time companion. In addition to setting the time and winding the watch when the power reserve is depleted, the screw-down central crown is the command centre for adjusting the second time zone and time can be moved forwards or backwards. Setting local and reference (home time) is all done at the main crown. Once you get used to the functionality of the four different crown positions, it becomes more intuitive.
The second crown, positioned at 4 o’clock, is actually a push-piece and is used exclusively to set the date. (The watch can only account for months with 31 days so you will have to make manual corrections to the date five times a year.) The date hand is synchronised to local time, and the AM/PM hand is indexed to reference/home time. Another great detail is the fact that the reference/home time hand can be hidden behind (almost) the hour hand if you don’t need it.
The beauty of a black dial is its versatility, a practical choice that goes with just about everything in a man’s wardrobe. It is a colour that is unlikely to go out of fashion and imparts an elegant, contemporary, masculine feel. Black is also slimming and you’d be surprised to see how the black dial of the Overseas Dual Time makes the watch look smaller and more compact than its brothers with blue and silver dials.
The translucent black lacquered dial provides a dramatic and high-contrast background for the functions. The large hour markers, made from 18k white gold, are applied and faceted for extra depth and volume, as are the hour and minute hands. In keeping with its function as a travel companion, the hour and minute hands and markers are treated with luminescent material. As often happens with black dials, the central seconds hand can get lost at times. A touch of lume at the tip, perhaps?
The reference/home time hand is shorter and clearly discernible with its bold red triangle-shaped tip, matching the red-tipped hand on the AM/PM indicator. A minutes/seconds track on the flange adds a ‘precision’ touch and a large date counter with a snailed background occupies a prominent position at 6 o’clock.
DIY Interchangeable Straps
When I say that even a child could change the strap/bracelet on this watch I am not exaggerating. It has to be the best tool-free DIY interchangeable strap system out there and the most generously appointed since the watch comes with not one, but three different options. Inside the package of the Overseas Dual Time, you will find a smart black alligator strap for more formal occasions, a black embossed rubber strap for sports and a practical stainless steel bracelet allowing you to change the look of this watch in seconds. The steel bracelet – also inspired by the Maltese cross – is beautifully hand-finished with satin-brushed external surfaces and polished inner facets. The bracelet also has an in-built extension system letting you adapt it to your wrist size that can expand in the heat and contract in cold weather. No detail is overlooked and an extra triple-blade folding clasp is provided for the rubber and leather straps.
In-house calibre 5100 DT
Visible through a sapphire caseback, calibre 5100DT is based on Vacheron’s latest generation of automatic movements (5100) with an additional time zone and AM/PM indicator. Measuring 30.6mm x 6mm thick, the movement is powered by a 22k gold oscillating weight decorated with a wind rose and sandblasted, polished and grained finishes, as you would expect from a watch bearing the Hallmark of Geneva certification. Calibre 5100 DT (dual time) has 234 components and is fitted with Vacheron’s in-house balance spring running at 4Hz with a power reserve of 60 hours.
The bridges are also nicely decorated with thick Côtes de Genève stripes. In addition to being water-resistant to 150 metres, the watch has a soft iron casing ring ensuring anti-magnetic protection to 25,000 A/m.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time has a lot going for it and is truly a handsome, robust travel watch. With impressive water and magnetic resistance along with its solid 60-hour power reserve, this watch is not going to let you down. The 41mm case is spectacular, impeccably finished and with its polished bezel reflecting the light, it will get you noticed. The black dial does make a difference and compared to the other models currently available looks leaner, sharper and more distinguished.
User-friendliness is good, although having discovered the hyper-simple pushers on the Porsche Design Globetimer watch to set local time in one-hour increments, I find the crown-based functionality a little less user-friendly. And then I have a wee issue with the AM/PM indicator. For a function that is important but not vital, it seems disproportionately large and its horizontal inclination means that it eats into the hour marker at 9 o’clock. Would it look better in a less intrusive upright position? What do you think?
Price and availability
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time ref. 7900V/110A-B546 is not a limited edition and will retail for EUR 24,400. More information at vacheron-constantin.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.