Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time
When it comes to travelling, watch lovers manage their wrist game in one of two ways: 1) bring along multiple watches to suit different outfits/activities, and 2) bring along just one watch for convenience. Those that practice number 2 will know the value of a good travel watch. So, what does a good travel watch make? For one, it has to be something that can qualify as a daily watch. That means no Patek Philippe minute repeaters, especially if you’re travel takes you to a tropical country that sees rain every other day. The watch should also be appropriate for all the activities that you will partake – business, bar, beach, what have you. Bonus points to be awarded if it also has a dual/triple/world time function.
Does a watch that fulfill these criteria truly exist? Well, yes! Enter the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time, the single-watch traveller’s wet dream. Here, we bring you the details on the latest addition to the Overseas line and our thoughts on why it might be the complete travel watch.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time measures 41.0 mm in diameter and 12.8 mm in thickness. These dimensions enable the Overseas Dual Time to fit most wrists and portray itself as an elegant sports watch. Being more reserved in size than some dress watches today, the Overseas Dual Time is able to slide under sleeves and most dress cuffs without hassle. The most defining feature of the case is the Maltese cross-inspired bezel. Along with the bevels and flanks of the watch, the bezel is polished to a spectacular sheen to evoke contrast to the brushed finish of the rest of the case. The case is available in either rose gold – for a much warmer, dressier appearance – or stainless steel – for the genuine sports watch experience. The stainless steel version of the watch is equipped with a delightfully nuanced and well-finished steel bracelet. Each individual link within the bracelet resembles a half-Maltese Cross and is alternatingly polished and satin-brushed, again for visual contrast. But what really sets the Overseas apart from other high-end sports watches is that it comes with additional straps to cover every situation in life. In addition to a bracelet, the stainless steel variant of the Overseas comes with an alligator leather strap, as well as a rubber strap; they come in blue or black depending on the reference. With its ingenious (and patented) quick-change system for the straps and bracelet, the Overseas Dual Time transforms from a boardroom piece to one ready for the beach in a matter of seconds. With water resistance of up to 150 m and soft iron casing offering anti-magnetic protection to 25,000 A/m, the watch doesn’t just look the part, it is ready to grab action by the horns. The Overseas Dual Time is essentially three watches in one, and the best part is that no tools are needed for this to happen. At the moment, the rose gold variant of the Overseas Dual Time comes only with a matching brown alligator leather and rubber strap – a full gold bracelet is not available, though we’d imagine that this option would become available in the future.
The stainless steel Overseas Dual Time is fitted with either a lacquered blue dial or a silver-toned, sunburst-finished dial (also found on the rose gold version of the watch). The hour markers, as well as the hours and minutes hands are coated with luminescent material for readability under low- or no-light conditions. At 6 o’clock is a radial date display indicated by a gold baton hand; it is set via the screw-lock pusher at 4 o’clock. To show home time, the Overseas Dual Time utilises a centrally positioned hand with an arrow tip that is red-filled on the silver dial and white-filled on the blue dial for contrast. The day/night display, also indicated by an arrow-tipped hand, is linked to home time so that you never have to do the math before calling home.
Compared to the original Overseas Dual Time, we feel that the current edition has a better dial design. For one, it is much less wordier. For another, it hasn’t got a power reserve indicator on the dial, something an automatic winding timepiece doesn’t need. The result is a palpably cleaner dial. If we’re being entirely honest – which we always strive to be – the indicators do look a little quirky and their layout seems almost random. Red arrow tips? A date sub-dial glued to the bottom of the dial and painfully far from the centre? They look so out of place… we think that it’s actually beautiful, like when someone’s “adorkable”. For a watch like the new Overseas Dual Time, “charming” is perhaps the best descriptor. You either get its charm or you don’t.
Powering the Overseas Dual Time is the 37-jewel, 234-part Calibre 5110 DT. The automatic winding movement provides a solid 60 hours of power reserve via twin mainspring barrels and operates at a modern 4 Hz beat rate. Only recently, Vacheron Constantin presented the (current) third generation Overseas, and with it came not only entirely in-house designed and manufactured movements, but also movements that are all stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva. This was a proud step forward for one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world and naturally, the introduction Overseas Dual Time continues this trend. Finishing on the Calibre 5110 DT is beautiful as you’d expect from a Hallmark of Geneva movement. The usual culprits can be seen through the sapphire crystal case back: Côtes de Genève on the surface of bridges, polished chamfers on the edges, sharp outward angles on the bevels, polished screw heads, and of course, tight perlage on the base plate. We also like the 22K gold oscillating weight which aptly resembles a wind rose and features a complex set of finishing and decorative touches.
The Competitive Landscape
The Overseas Dual Time in stainless steel is priced at SGD41,000 or CHF28,600, while the rose gold variant retails at SGD66,770 or SGD46,400. Not a small sum to part with for most people, but the prices set are in line with what the brand’s competitors are charging for equivalents. The Overseas Dual Time represents a fantastic gateway into complicated watchmaking from Vacheron Constantin. Sure, the proprietary strap quick-changing system makes it impossible to use after-market straps (and you’d have to get any and all replacement straps from Vacheron Constantin – the Apple business model) but the convenience it offers along with the additional straps means that the Overseas Dual Time could legitimately be the hypothetical “one watch for the rest of your life”. Why anyone would just want one watch for the rest of his/her life is totally incomprehensible to us but our point is that the watch offers good value.
The most obvious and direct alternative to the Overseas Dual Time is the Overseas World Time. Where a dual time watch displays time in two time zones, the world timer displays time in 24 time zones (37, in the case of the Overseas World Time) simultaneously. The world time function, coupled with a day/night indicator is particularly useful for travellers needing to keep track with multiple (more than two) time zones, perhaps someone conducting business with the four corners of the world. For others, however, the dual time function is more than sufficient. In fact, it is far more legible and intuitive to use. Like its sibling, the Overseas World Time comes with additional leather and rubber straps, and is just as versatile. Due to the sophistication of its movement, the Overseas World Time in stainless steel does come at a dearer price at SGD56,900.
For something less sporty, there’s the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 7234R. While technically a pilot watch, the Ref. 7234R looks dressier than a pure sports watch like the Overseas. Measuring in at just 37.5 mm in diameter, the watch is classically proportioned and is a welcome breath of fresh air from the oversized watches that dominate the market today. The Ref. 7234R has the same functions as the Overseas Dual Time, but we’d argue that they are displayed more harmoniously on the dial. You either love or hate the display layout on the Overseas Dual Time, but in the Ref. 7234R, there is nothing too jarring to warrant dislike from anyone. While the finishing on the Ref. 7234R is on par with the Overseas, it is far less versatile. Nevertheless, the Ref. 7234R is a gorgeous piece and will appeal to fans of aviation with a penchant for fine watchmaking. Priced at SGD56,800, the watch in rose gold retails for the same price as the Overseas World Time.
While not as famous as the Royal Oak or the Nautilus, the Overseas has become a must-consider when shopping for sports watches. The third generation Overseas has proven to be as good, if not better, than its rivals from a specs and user-friendliness point of view. The Overseas Dual Time, as the latest addition to the current line-up of Overseas watches, is comfortable to wear, versatile, practical and good-looking. It is quite simply, the complete traveller.