An Overseas investment

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar features two useful complications, a chronograph and a perpetual calendar. Angus Davies reviews this exemplar of haute horlogerie from one of the great maisons of Geneva.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

Unless you have been cast away on a desert island, you almost certainly will have seen the news reports on television or newspapers telling tales of economic woes afflicting western economies.

Some savers have sought solace by investing in overseas funds, perhaps where the economy is enjoying unprecedented growth. For others, property in foreign climes has proved an irresistible lure. However, many will attest that with minimal returns for investors there is merit in living for the moment.

I lack wisdom to proffer investment advice and I am not qualified to do so. But the appeal of squandering some of my offspring’s future inheritance on a beautiful watch keeps whispering to the epicentre of my cardiovascular system.

I cannot get excited by the words; “annuity”, “yield”, “capital” or “security”. They somehow feel inert, devoid of emotion and render me yawning with boredom and lassitude.

Now I have discovered an Overseas investment which garners my interest. An object of horological desire, with an appellation which is half way to astute financial planning, the Overseas by Vacheron Constantin.

The Overseas is not a new model. It has been part of the extensive range of high-end watches offered by the Manufacture Horlogère, based near the banks of Lake Geneva for some time. A timepiece with a sporty feel.

In terms of horology, Vacheron Constantin possess a grandeur few can match. They offer incredibly complicated watches as well as more simple offerings, but always with beautiful finissage to delight the wearer.

The latest Overseas model, launched for 2012 is a high complication timepiece which features both a chronograph and a perpetual calendar.

Vacheron Constantin previously launched a similar model in 2011, limited in number, made of steel and titanium, sold exclusively in its own Boutiques. The new model surpasses this with a case made of pink gold and featuring a light grey dial. This is the ultimate Overseas model.

For those unfamiliar with a perpetual calendar, it displays the day, date, month and leap year. Unlike an annual calendar which requires adjustment once per year on the 1st March, a perpetual calendar does not require adjustment except in the years 2200, 2300, 2400 etc.. The additional complexity of a perpetual calendar in contrast to an annual calendar is significant and normally attracts a higher price.

The dial

The dial is a light grey and features four sub-dials.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

At 3 o’clock the subdial displays the month on a white ring. At its centre, the subdial is light grey and snailed. It depicts the minutes for the chronograph function.

At 6 o’clock the subdial displays small seconds with a neat scale. An aperture within the subdial reveals the moon phase. The moon phase is depicted in mother of pearl in conjunction with 18-carat gold discs. This is yet another example of the atticism synonymous with the brand bearing the Maltese Cross.

At 9 o’clock, the design language of the opposite subdial is copied. The white outer ring depicts the days, the light grey snailed centre used to convey the hours for the chronograph function.

At noon, the largest of the four subdials conveys the months on an outer white ring and at the centre a small grey area shows four numbers used to impart the sequence of years and ultimately the leap year.

The subdials disclose vast amounts of information, yet retain an uncluttered, succinct, clarity.

Gold batons are used to indicate the hours around the dial.

The hour and minute hands are gold with white luminescent material at the centre.

The chronograph second hand and the counter hands for the chronograph, featured on the subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, are made of pfinodal alloy and presented in a black tincture.

The chapter ring is neatly detailed with minute markers with four integers in between representing units of 12 seconds. Each fifth minute is marked with Arabic numerals.

At the most southerly position of the dial the words “Swiss Made” and “Genève”, reside below the brands nomenclature. The origin of the watch further validating its mechanical virtue.

The case

The case is presented in satin-finished gold, contrasting wonderfully with the highly polished bezel.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

The bezel is crenellated in design and seems to personify strength, protecting the movement from harsh elements.

The crown and pushpieces are knurled and screw down to ensure the movement is guarded from dust or water ingress.

The caseback is stamped with the “Overseas” medallion. I lament that the watch is not fitted with a sapphire back to facilitate my view of the peerless craftsmanship within. But then this would mean sacrificing the anti-magnetic protection which safeguards the calibre from harmful forces that could impair the function and accuracy of the watch.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar

The movement

A complex movement featuring 228 components working in concert. The finishing of the movement is testament to the skill of the artisans at this matchless Maison.

The rotor is constructed of gold and exquisitely detailed with the Côtes de Genève motif.

Circular graining is prevalent on the plate.

The watch offers the convenience of a self-winding movement, featuring a column wheel chronograph. This is technically superior to a lever actuated chronograph and typically found only in the finest watches.

To prevent the owner having to reset the watch after an extended period of non-wearing, it is supplied with a presentation box and winder.

Conclusion

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar harnesses a high-complication movement within a contemporary, neoteric sports watch.

The modern appearance does not eschew the traditional virtuosity epitomised by classical models from the Genevan atelier.

I could not guarantee whether the value of this model will rise or fall with the passage of time. However, I have invested in bonds, equities and pension funds and watched their value erode.

The one thing which requires no further elucidation is that this is one Overseas investment which does inspire me.

The ownership of this watch will bestow its owner with reliable service and an alluring aesthetic for many years to come. A worthy return for an unsated inheritance? I wonder.

Technical specification

  • Model: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Perpetual Calendar
  • Reference: 49020
  • Case: 18-carat pink gold; diameter 42.00 mm; height 12.80 mm; water resistantant to 15 bar (150 metres); sapphire crystal to front; solid case back featuring “Overseas” medallion .
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hours counters; perpertual calendar (day of the week, date, 48-month counter with leap year indication) and moon phase.
  • Movement: self-winding; Frequency 21,600 vph ; 37 jewels; 228 parts; Power reserve 40 hours.
  • Strap: Dark brown Mississippienis alligator leather strap, hand stitched with 18-carat gold deployant. Also supplied with an additional dark brown rubber strap.
  • Additional comment: Supplied with a presentation box with winder.

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