The new Overseas collection was announced in aplomb in SIHH 2016 with a collection spanning a three hand time only automatic, a chronograph, a small model, an ultra thin, and an ultra thin perpetual calendar. Quite remarkable. During our tête-à-tête with Vacheron Constantin CEO Juan-Carlos Torres in SIHH 2016, we remarked that the Overseas collection is intended for travel, and yet they deleted the only watch which is designed specifically for travel – the Overseas Dual Time. To which he replied, “We’ll do better!”. And with a sparkle in his eye, pulled it out the (then yet unannounced) Overseas World Time to show us. Our jaws dropped, but our lips were sealed. Until now. The embargo just lifted (9am Geneva time, May 10, 2016). We spent some hours later exploring and photographing the new Overseas World Time, and here are our views.
The movement jungle
The old Dual Time ran on the VC Caliber 1222. The C.1222 is derived from the base Jaeger LeCoultre ultra thin automatic Caliber 920, and modified by VC to add a second timezone. Interestingly, the JLC C.920 is a movement which JLC never used on its own watches and produced only as an ebauche. It was used not only by VC, but also Patek Philippe (C.28-255 et al, now also discontinued by PP) and Audemars Piguet (C. 2120, 2121 and 2122, and we understand still in use by AP). It remains one of the last ebauche movements used by VC and still being used in another variant as C.2000 in the new Overseas Ultra Thin. The C.2000 is a derivative of the C.1120 which in turn is derived from the JLC C.920.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time
As we said, when we first laid eyes on the VC Overseas World Timer, our jaws dropped. This was a handsome watch. Beautifully dimensioned. Exquisitely made. And aesthetically very pleasing.
The Case, Dial and Hands
The case is the new Overseas case which is has been subtly updated this year with the rest of the Overseas collection. With the new World Time, the case is 43.5mm in diameter, but visually, it does not look its size. It seems to be smaller, and on the wrist, this is confirmed. Perhaps due to the fact that the case lugs wrap around the wrist, and is snug and rather comfortable.
The same system as is offered in the other new Overseas watches for quick and easy interchange between the supplied bracelet and crocodile strap and rubber strap is also found on the new Overseas World Time. We described this system in detail in our review of the VC Overseas Chronograph, please refer there for photographs and how it works. Suffice it to say that it works beautifully. The system is intuitive, and easy for the customer to perform with a little practice and without the use of any tools. As we said in the Overseas Chronograph review, brilliant.
The dial itself is quite unusual. It shows 37 time zones, including those that are off-set by half hour or quarter hour in reference to UTC. Most World Time watches show 24 timezones, which is convenient, as the dial is then divided into equal parts. But for the sake of completeness, VC chose to show all the existing timezones around the world.
Political situations sometimes demand that timezones are changed, but as the dial of the Overseas World Time is engraved with the names of the cities in their appropriate timezones, the watch becomes a historical reference to a particular point in time where the cities were in their correct timezones. And when these watches become vintage, future generations will make interesting studies. Like we now study World Time watches made in the 1940s, and learn about historical geo-political divisions of that era.
The dial itself comprises of three parts. The centre is a projection map of the continents. Only a map of the northern hemisphere is offered at the moment. The finishing is enhanced by sunburst satin brushed finish on the land, and the oceans feature a velvet finish. A sapphire disc is laid over the map to provide the day/night indication by means of subtly graded smoky tints and to show nightfall from 6.30pm to 6.30am.
Surrounding it is a translucent lacquered disc bearing the names of the 37 cities. and another translucent laquered velvet finished outer ring serves to indicate the hours and minutes displayed in 24 hour mode. The minute track is transfer printed on this disc.
The dial is very beautifully crafted, and the elements are aesthetically quite in harmony with each other. We do find that the dial is cluttered, as it is inscribed with a massive amount of information. This is rather typical in a World Time watch, and perhaps part of its appeal. And we are thankful that VC has chosen to depict the world map in a subdued and elegant way, and chose not to use a colorful map used by some.
The hands are rather standard baton shaped with a luminous infill, and a sweep center seconds hand complete the display.
The Movement: Caliber 2460 WT
The movement is a new in-house VC manufactured one. It is self winding, and runs at 28,800 bph with a power reserve of 40 hours. Visually from the case back, the magnificent rotor dominates.
The rotor is in 22k gold, and like the others in the new Overseas series, bears the engraved image of the wind rose. The Wind Rose is a universal symbol for indicating the cardinal points for travelers. The finish on the rotor makes it a visual spectacle. Parts are sand blasted to create a granular textured surface, and the rose and decorative ribs are polished. The Vacheron Constantin name and logo is relief engraved on the rotor, and makes a nice statement.
The rest of the movement is finished very well within the standards which are in line with other haute horlogerie houses. All the traditional finishing elements are well thought out, and executed expertly. The movement, like all the new VC movements announced in this SIHH 2016 now carries the Poinçon de Genève.
We do find the movement at 36.6mm in diameter to be a bit small to be housed in the rather large 43.5mm case, as can be seen, the back bezel is rather large, and the opening on the sapphire glass back is much smaller to hide the movement ring. This practice to fit small movements in larger cases with movement rings is quite common in VC watches. But we must note that we are disappointed at VC for this. At these price points, each movement to be unique to each watch.
There are several competitors in this space, and range from the independents to the traditional maisons. The VC Overseas World Time is only available in a stainless steel case, but with a SS bracelet, and a crocodile strap and a rubber strap for S$ 56,900 incl GST. This converts to CHF 37,800 before taxes.
To begin, perhaps we consider the Patek Philippe World Time Ref. 5230 (CHF 47,000 before taxes in white gold. Patek does not make a stainless steel version) which was released this Baselworld 2016. The 5230 has a dial which is classical Patek World Time, with a guilloché central medallion, and 24 timezones indication made in the style first introduced in the 1930s by Louis Cottier. In style, it is very similar to the other Cottier inspired piece: the Andersen Genève Tempus Terrae (CHF 48,600 before taxes in white gold, no SS version), also with a city disc showing only 24 cities. The Patek finishing is perhaps on par with the VC Overseas, and much better than the Andersen, and will definitely do better in the resale market than either. Neither Patek nor Andersen are built on a water resistant case as their cases are decidedly more dressy. They are both only rated for the nominal 25m while the VC is rated to 150m, and useful for swimming, snorkeling and perhaps light diving. Would be interesting if Patek Philippe made the World Time in a Nautilus case, which they don’t. The closest is the Patek Philippe Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph Ref. 5990 (CHF 47,000 incl tax in steel), which is rated to 120m. We adored the PP 5990, but it is a totally different kind of watch. It shows only two timezones, and is also equipped with a column wheel chronograph.
Another World Time watch which is similarly featured is De Bethune World Traveller DB25 (CHF 150,000 before taxes in white gold). The dial is somewhat less cluttered, and the system for indicating the second time zone in 24 hour format while showing day/night is ingenious. The movement is also unique, and truly a spectacle. And like most De Bethunes, the price tag will exclude the DB25 from many short lists.
The Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic Universal Time (S$21,900 with GST in SS) is another candidate. Much less expensive, and finished to a different level to the VC. It too shows only 24 cities on its dial, and is not water resistant. However, it is antimagnetic and carries a seconds morte mechanism.
Another modestly priced comparison might be to the Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum (CHF 5,930 inclusive of Swiss VAT in stainless steel). It shows only 24 cities on the dial, and has a water resistant rating of 50m. The movement is decidedly more engineered than haute horlogerie, and finished in accordance to its price.
No other World Time watch shows the 37 timezones simultaneously that the VC shows. The only other World Time watch which does so is the Seiko Astron GPS Solar World Time which we reviewed recently, and shows 40 timezones. But that is a quartz movement, and has GPS synchronization for up to the second time accuracy. Certainly quite a different kettle of fish. And the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite (S$70,400 incl GST in white gold) is an excellent travel watch, capable of showing all 37 timezones, but as it is not a World Time watch, it does not all of them simultaneously.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time is certainly an interesting watch. It has the traditional and classical elements of a haute horogerie offering. Afterall, VC is one of the grande dames of the industry, known for consistently producing superior quality watches for centuries (yes, 275 years!). The build quality, and finishing is top grade, as one would expect from VC.
The Overseas World Time is beautiful. The aesthetics are excellent. The watch is offered with three dial variations. And delivered with three attachment options, each making the watch look so different that it becomes essentially 3 watches. In the genre of World Time watches, the Overseas World Time stands unique. A great testament to Vacheron Constantin. And the Crème de la Crème.
VC Overseas World Time Technical Specifications.
Retail price: S$56,900 incl GST
7700V/110A-B129 – silver-toned dial
7700V/110A-B172 – blue dial
7700V/110A-B176 – brown dial
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepieces
Caliber 2460 WT
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
22K gold Overseas oscillating weight
36.6 mm (11’’’¼) diameter, 7.55 mm thick
Approximately 40 hours of power reserve
4 Hz (28,800 vibrations/hour)
Hours and minutes
World time indication (37 cities)
43.5 mm diameter, 12.6 mm thick
Soft iron casing ring ensuring anti-magnetic protection
Transparent sapphire crystal caseback
Water-resistance tested at a pressure of 15 bar (approx. 150 metres)
3 superimposed dials:
• Map of the northern hemisphere with sunburst satin-finished continents & velvet-finished seas. Translucent silver-toned/blue/brown lacquered disc with transferred city names
• Sapphire disc with transferred day/night and 24-hour indications (period between 6.30pm and 6.30am highlighted with a black background)
• Translucent silver-toned/blue/brown lacquered ring, opalin-finished, transferred minute-track
18K gold hours and minutes hands highlighted with white luminescent material
Stainless steel bracelet, half Maltese cross-shaped polished and satin-brushed links
Delivered with a second black/blue/brown Mississippiensis alligator leather strap featuring a black nubuck lining with a micro-perforated effect, hand-stitched, large square scales
Delivered with a third strap in black/blue/brown rubber
Stainless steel bracelet secured by a stainless steel triple-blade folding clasp with push-pieces and comfort-adjustment system
Delivered with a second stainless steel triple-blade folding clasp with push-pieces and interchangeable system (patent pending) compatible with both additional straps