What makes a good sports watch? Readability, accuracy, and a self-winding movement are a must. If you’re a diver, it has to be water-resistant to a few hundred metres. If you run, it would be good to have a chronograph, and if you find yourself hitting the greens every weekend, a lightweight one with 40-hour power reserve would be handy (then you wouldn’t have to wind it until Monday morning!). But all these assets are secondary to one very important requirement: it must look exceptionally good.
Fortunately for us, watch companies are constantly redefining the luxury sports arena, and we are definitely spoilt for choice. In the past years, we’ve seen historically conservative brands releasing more sports-driven designs that are, instead of hulking and tough, more elegant and refined, answering the call for versatile timepieces that you can use everyday, but without sacrificing functionality.
Many brands come to mind, but one collection that I feel has aced this particular category, if you may call it that, is Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas. The line represents the brand’s foray into the domain of sports watches, and was first launched in 1996 in 37 and 35mm diameter stainless steel cases. (Incidentally, this is the only collection that Vacheron Constantin offers in stainless steel, and price-wise, for the quality you get, it's extremely competitive)
We know that Vacheron Constantin has a more than 250-year history in watchmaking, and this is not the only reason why it’s one of the most distinguished brands out there. At the height of the quartz revolution in the 1960s up until the 80s, the House kept its watchmaking traditions intact. This helped the brand be at its most competitive when the mechanical watch industry bounced back in the 1990s. The manufacture has since extended its range of watches, in terms of style and engineering achievements, developing a range of new hand-wound and self-winding movements, and offering a variety of watches and complications, for men and women.
The first generation of Overseas watches had a similar feel to Patek Philippe’s Nautilus and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, offering functionality in a sturdy case, yet has the thinness and ease of wearing a dress watch. The line has since evolved into one of Vacheron Constantin’s most dynamic range, with an extensive selection of materials and complications.
This year, Vacheron Constantin presents a unique combination in the Overseas: a perpetual calendar and a chronograph. The watch is built with the in-house caliber 1136 QP, an automatic beating at 21,600vph, and with a 40-hour power reserve. In addition to the hours, minutes and small seconds at six o’clock, the Calibre 1136 QP has a chronograph function, as well as a perpetual calendar that shows the day of the week, date, month on a 48-year cycle, as well as a leap-year and moon phase displays.
The 42mm case comes in anti-magnetic stainless steel, water-resistant to 15 bar (150 metres). The collection’s Maltese Cross-inspired bezel and push piece guards come in titanium. Another signature feature of the Overseas collection, the screw-down caseback, features a medallion engraved with the famous Amerigo Vespucci three-masted sailing ship.
The dial comes in a sunburst satin-brushed slate grey, with 18k white gold applied hour markers with white luminescent hour and minute hands, and for the first time for the Overseas, yellow seconds and subdial hands.
The Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar is a “Boutiques Exclusive” limited edition of 80 pieces, and will be available only in the 27 Vacheron Constantin boutiques worldwide.
LET’S NOT FORGET THE LADIES
It’s been an interesting year, 2011, especially for a growing number of women who happen to love mechanical watches. I think the watch brands were all in agreement that the ladies deserved to be treated to timepieces that were not just smaller spin-offs of the male versions, but designed resolutely with their needs and wants in mind.
Therefore, Vacheron Constantin is also presenting the Overseas Small Model, with self-winding movement and date function, specially designed for ladies. The watch comes in an 18k pink gold case that is 36mm in size, fitted with the calibre 1226, which is also an automatic, running at 28,800vph, with hours, minutes, central seconds and date function.
Water-resistant to five bar (approximately 50 metres), the case of this Overseas timepiece is fitted with a solid screw-in caseback etched with the Overseas medallion.
The dial is simple, but made more elegant by 88 brilliant-cut diamonds on the Maltese Cross-inspired bezel. The dial is also sunburst satin-brushed in a silver tone, with white luminescent hands for readability. Classic 18k pink gold applied Arabic numerals polish off the piece, making it simply elegant.
Designed for daily wear, the Overseas Small Model Self-Winding with Date comes in two versions: an 18-carat pink gold bracelet, and the other with a taupe-coloured leather strap complete with an additional vulcanised grey rubber strap.