The 1970s is associated with economic turmoil for the luxury Swiss watch industry, but there were some positives to come out of this era. It was the decade that disruptive designs from the steel sports watch category were conceived. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch, designed by Gerald Genta, paved the way for other high-end sports watches from the likes of big brand names like Patek Philippe with its Nautilus watch and, of course, IWC Schaffhausen with the release of the Ingenieur watch. These models sparked a complete paradigm – a clear break away from the traditional elegant dress watch or, indeed, the slim quartz-powered watch that was proving itself so popular during this time.
The rise of the elegant steel sports watch was a game-changer. It communicated a laid-back, eclectic and casually elegant look. Octagonal bezels and integrated bracelets were all the rage – the case and bracelet of which were considered a whole, as opposed to two individual components. The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 1225V/000R-H014 watch by Vacheron Constantin is yet another example of a sports watch that took the world by storm. Today, it is one of the most instantly recognisable models, featuring a two-handed dial design accompanied by several different complications depending on the watch and its production year. But what made the Overseas watch such a stand-out and highly collectable model? Let’s first take a look at the history of the Overseas watch and how it came to be.
Following the success of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Vacheron Constantin Overseas 1225V/000R-H014 – the oldest watch manufacturer to have remained in continuous production for over 260 years – developed the 222 model. It was a radical break away from anything the prestigious watch manufacturer had ever produced before. Designed by Jorg Hysek, it has a slim barrel-shaped case, a one-piece case construction, baton hour markers, a flat and highly reliable movement developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre, and a notched round bezel. It ceased production in the mid-1980s and has subsequently become a horological icon that is hugely desirable amongst elite watch collecting circles. Following this was the 333 model with different complications that included a GMT function and chronograph.
In 1996, Vacheron Constantin produced the Overseas watch. Built around a tonneau-shaped case with a fluted bezel, it featured an integrated bracelet, a 37mm diameter, a 150-meter water resistance, and was powered by a COSC-certified movement. Over the years, the Overseas watch has seen some modifications, namely the new patterned dials and removal of the crown guard during phase 2 of the Overseas production series between the years 2004 and 2016. Today, there are ultra-flat models, chronographs, perpetual calendars and skeletonised variations belonging to the collection. Some of the most noteworthy advantages of owning a Vacheron Constantin Overseas watch today include its in-house manufactured and Geneva Seal-approved movements and its impressive anti-magnetic technology of up to 25,000 A/m.
The starting price for a collectable chronograph from the Vacheron Constantin Overseas 1225V/000R-H014 watch collection can set you back around $28,000 on the pre-owned market – a price similar to new three-handed watches that are easily accessible today. The top-level models with perpetual calendars and tourbillons, however, carry a much higher price tag of between $94,000 and $120,000. There are much more affordable Overseas watches too, namely women’s quartz-powered models that were released around the turn of the millennium. Men’s pre-owned three-handed automatic watches, are a little more, costing around the $10,000 to $13,000 mark.
Perhaps the most classic-looking of Vacheron Constantin Overseas watches is the model 4500V/110A-B483. Its stainless steel case, executed in a mix of brushed and polished finishes, is particularly suited to those with active lifestyles. The black dial surrounded by a steel case and matching stainless steel integrated bracelet epitomises the classic steel sports watch aesthetic. The dial is equipped with a simple three-handed layout, with central tapering hour and minute hands that have been treated with Super-LumiNova, along with a baton index hour track and a legible date window at 3 o’clock. Here, it is easy to appreciate the structure of the watch’s bezel, bearing the Maltese cross in its design. The same logo can also be seen underneath the 12 o’clock location on the dial, whilst inside the watch’s 150-meter water-resistant case is the in-house developed Calibre 5100. This self-winding movement was introduced in 2016 as part of Vacheron Constantin Overseas 1225V/000R-H014 latest generation of automatic movements and features a 22-carat gold oscillating weight adorned with a rose.