Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial combines a highly lucid panda dial and a contemporary steel case with a no-compromise movement. Angus Davies reviews this exquisite watch from Geneva.

This detailed review of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

A brand name can evoke many thoughts. The word ‘overseas’ transposes me to faraway shores and a world of unfamiliar sights, tastes and experiences. Surprisingly, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial, despite its name, proffers familiarity with its panda dial.

The stark contrast of silver subdials set against a vast black sea can be traced back to the 1960s. By juxtaposing two diametrically opposed hues, the values on the subdials stand out, aiding interpretation.

However, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial is interesting for many reasons, not just the aforementioned colour scheme.

The dial

The black lacquered dial exhibits a richness and depth; the perception of quality is notable. The baton-style hour and minute hands enunciate the prevailing time superbly. The hour markers are 18-carat white gold and sit upon a grey track. While the hour track contrasts with the epidermis of the main dial, it continues to play a deferential role to the subdials nearby. Both the hands and hour markers are lined with luminescent material.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

The three snailed subdials, or counters, are silver-toned and garner attention with the contrast they confer. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned adjacent 3 o’clock, while a 12-hour chronograph register is located above 6 o’clock. A small seconds display resides at 9 o’clock.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

A date display sits at 4:30. Black numerals are presented on a white date disc. The typeface of these numerals is sans serifs, reinforcing the contemporary character of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial. The date disc sits on high, close to the date aperture, an indication that this is a fully integrated chronograph.

Encircling the dial is a flange marked with ¼ second integers, proving useful when measuring elapsed time periods.

While the dial includes several indications, everything is presented in simple to interpret, digestible portions. Nothing inhibits understanding. The snailed counters seemingly step forward from the main dial and impart information unambiguously.

The case

The bezel fitted to the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial makes this watch stand out from the crowd. It is a design feature which could potentially lead to ‘iconic status’. The bezel features six cut-outs, providing two differing depths which, once again, deliver contrast. The upper surfaces of the bezel are highly polished, while the lower surfaces are satin-brushed. This contradistinction is sublime, deftly balancing the overt character of the gleaming steel with the restrained nature of the satin-brushed areas. This aspect of the design extends to the bracelet with contrasting finishes on the links.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

Measuring 42.5mm in diameter, with a case thickness of 13.7mm, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial sidesteps excessive proportions. By avoiding extreme sizing the Genevan brand has ensured lasting appeal. Indeed, the fickleness of fashion should never blight this exquisite timepiece.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

Despite the modernity of this watch there are wonderful nostalgic touches, augmenting its appeal. For instance, traditionalists are indulged with screw-lock push-pieces.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

Few maisons can surpass the quality of a Vacheron Constantin movement. Therefore, it is fitting that the watch is equipped with an exhibition case-back, granting sight of the flawlessly finished Caliber 5200. The watch features a ‘soft iron casing ring’, providing anti-magnetic protection.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial is endowed with wonderful versatility courtesy of the watch company’s ‘interchangeability concept’. The bracelet can be removed simply by pressing the pushers located between the lugs. No tools are required, making this a very user-friendly system. The wearer is able to exchange the bracelet for a leather or rubber strap, bestowing the timepiece with an alternative look.

The movement

The Caliber 5200 has been developed by Vacheron Constantin and is manufactured in the company’s Genevan headquarters. It is automatic, proffering convenience to the wearer and making it ideal for daily wear. The oscillating weight is 22-carat gold.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial

The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement consists of 263 components, which includes 54 jewels. Twin barrels collaborate, delivering 52 hours of autonomy.

When actuating a modular chronograph the central chronograph seconds hand noticeably stutters. A column-wheel chronograph, the purist’s choice, leaves the starting gate with no discernible wobble. Furthermore, the push-piece feel is generally smoother. The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial is endowed with a column-wheel and vertical clutch.

The Poinçon de Genève is a certification standard which some companies within the Canton of Geneva adhere to. The standard is upheld by an independent body and the certification requirements are laid out in law. The Poinçon de Genève, or Hallmark of Geneva, encompasses the provenance of the watch, the execution / quality of components and the reliability of the timepiece, including accuracy.

For example, each movement part needs to be decorated in such a way as to remove all machining marks and ‘screw heads must be polished or circular-grained with chamfered edges and slots’. The list of requirements is extensive and onerous, however, the resultant finish is exemplary. The case of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial bears the Hallmark of Geneva, attesting to the no-compromise specification of the watch.

The bridges of the Caliber 5200 are adorned with Côtes de Genève. Each stripe is wonderfully defined, yet smooth. The jewel and screw sinks are highly polished. The anglage is fabulous, with each bevel shining resplendently. The wearer is indulged with a view of the column wheel. This is a movement created for the delectation of connoisseurs.

Closing remarks

Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755 and the company has been in continuous operation ever since. It is the accrued knowledge and the adroit skills of its workforce which have led to this maison being held in the highest esteem. Indeed, the incredible prowess of Vacheron Constantin was evident during my time with the Overseas Chronograph black dial.

The black on this timepiece is unusual. On one hand it is contemporary and yet it features a panda dial synonymous with the 1960s. The watch is made of stainless steel, a utilitarian metal, but it still brims with style and luxury. The Caliber 5200 is automatic and modern, but harnesses traditional watchmaking craft. However, while there seems to be many contradictions with this watch, it coalesces into a harmonious whole.

Each counter stands out, aiding legibility. Nevertheless, despite the lucidity of the counters nothing inhibits the proclamation of the hours and minutes. This watch confers superb readability.

I found the case afforded a comfortable union with my wrist. Its proportions facilitate ease of wearing and should remain appealing despite the onset of years. The bezel and bracelet echo part of the brand’s Maltese cross logo. The interplay of polished and brushed surfaces bestows a tasteful aesthetic.

Versatility is a trait valued in many areas of life and horology proves no exception. The capacity to remove the bracelet without tools and swap it for a leather or rubber strap should appeal to most stylish wearers.

However, it is the Caliber 5200 which is perhaps the most impressive element of this horological composition. It encompasses a column-wheel with vertical coupling. The finishing is exemplary and the watch bears the Hallmark of Geneva, distinguishing it as special.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph black dial
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42.5mm, height 13.7mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback; water resistant to 15 ATM (150 metres).
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
  • Movement: Caliber 5200; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 54 jewels; power reserve 52 hours.
  • Strap: Steel bracelet
  • Price: £25,300 (RRP as at 17.7.2018) 

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