SIHH 2016 : Vacheron Constantin upgrades the Overseas

It’s an interesting thing about watches that modern luxury sports watches by and large, with some notable exceptions, have a tendency towards erring on the thicker side whereas dress watches tend to err on the thinner, complications notwithstanding.

Last year may have been the year of the new cushion case but this year it’s about the familiar lines of the Overseas Collection being tweaked, with Vacheron presenting five new models and twelve new references. Oh, and three new calibres.

All the new models contain automatic movements protected from magnetic fields by a soft iron ring and visible through a transparent caseback (one might query this) and are, apart from their visual changes, most noticeably characterised by a new easy-fit (and easy-change) stem for the bracelets and rubber strap which allow for rapid idiotproof (I say this because I managed to do it without hassle) interchangeability.

This ability to quickly change looks is a key part of Vacheron’s selling point with these new pieces – they are going for the ‘traveller’ market who are looking for outfit versatility in a watch during their travels – bracelet, rubber or leather. Another is the blue dial, something that may seem familiar, as it featured in two limited edition Overseas model last year. If you click on that link you will also be able to compare and contrast with these new models, especially for the two date models.

First up is the Overseas Automatic 4500V in a stainless steel case (but also a pink gold option) and all new in-house movement, the Calibre 5100 with a 60-hour power reserve which replaces the old ‘entry-level’ model. At 41mm it is 1mm smaller than its predecessor and its shape more streamlined and sleek, with the finishing a combination of brushed and polished. It is 11mm thick and not ‘ultra thin’ per se but it’s still not a chnky watch. It will be available in stainless steel and pink gold variants.

The case isn’t as slim as the ultra-thin edition about which we shall mention in another post, but do consider the presence of a soft iron casing ring ensuring anti-magnetic protection and a transparent sapphire crystal caseback through which you can see the new movement with a 22 carat gold oscillating weight. @initialjh asked about the iron cage and whether having a display back would affect it but were told that Vacheron did testing and that the open case back would not affect this.

So, to the dial. Gone are the Arabic numerals, replaced by the more minimalist deisgn of 18k white gold applied indices and slimmer longer hands. Perhaps to some degree it harks back more to the 1970s Overseas, not just in terms of these thinner batons but also because of the moving of the date window from 4:30 back to 3 o’clock.

The Overseas Automatic 4500V will be available in three versions (stainless steel with silver dial, stainless steel with blue dial and pink gold with silver dial), and my pick is the stainless steel and rubber strap combination.

Next up is the new Overseas Chronograph.

Containing the second of the new movements, the Calibre 5200 is a column wheel chronograph with 50-hours of power reserve. This new chronograph comes in a 42.5mm case again available with silver or blue dials in pink gold or stainless steel.

Now for something rather interesting size wise – a 37mm diamond-bezelled watch which they are calling the ‘Overseas Small Model’. Containing the newCalibre 5300 with a power reserve of 44-hours, it is also going to be available in a dial whose colour seems to be a cross between rose and a light beige, almost. In this sort of a size, and bearing in mind that the interest in the 84 round-cut diamonds can be broad, I can see it having appeal across genders.

 

As mentioned at the outset, there were Overseas models with another dial colour released at the same time during SIHH 2016, but we shall cover them in a separate post, as today is all about the blue as much as it is about the easy strap and bracelet change. In terms of what stood out for me with these new models, the blue is great, but it was the strap changing ease (and that the bracelet system is adjustable up to 4mm) which the biggest point with me – three very different looks in a matter of seconds.



Categories: SIHH 2016, Switzerland, Vacheron Constantin, Watch Profile, watches

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