The Overseas Collection
In 1977, Vacheron Constantin introduced the reference 222, as a way to mark the brand’s 222nd anniversary. The design - with its integrated bracelet and notched bezel - firmly diverged from the brand’s existing design principles. It offered a true competitor to the integrated steel sports watches introduced by the two other members of the so-called “Holy Trinity” of watchmaking, namely the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
Building on this foundation, the Overseas collection was first introduced in 1996, as the more contemporary interpretation of the original 222 design. The overall philosophy and several design features of the 222 - such as the notched bezel, angular integrated bracelet and overall luxurious yet industrial feel - have been transmitted onto the Overseas collection.
The original Overseas collection was designed by a team including Dino Modolo, an external watch designer, and Vacheron Constantin’s Vincent Kaufmann. Initially offered in 37mm, 35mm and 24mm, this particular example represents the mid-size version of the original Offshore design, powered by a chronometer-grade automatic movement. Produced for a brief period from 1996 to 2004, the original Overseas collection represents Vacheron Constantin’s take on the contemporary, integrated steel sports watch.
A Salmon Dial
Beyond its characterful case and bracelet design, this particular Overseas ref. 42052 is distinguished by its sunburst salmon dial. An elusive colour occasionally found in vintage watches, the salmon dial has developed a cult following among collectors. Rarely ever found in the world of integrated sports watches, the most notable exception is the Royal Oak 14802, of which 200 are believed to have been made with a salmon dial. The soft rose colour is rendered in a smooth, sunburst finish, which comes to life when it plays with the light.
With this example, the index-markers and hands are manufactured from white gold, as indicated by the “σ SWISS MADE σ” signature at the bottom of the dial. The “σ” symbol, for sigma in Greek, was used as a visual declaration of the use of precious materials on the dial side. It was adopted by a number of manufactures from the ’70s onwards, emphasising the inherent value of a high-quality, mechanical watch. The hands are executed in a contemporary style, with the colour tone of the lume matching that on the dial. The signatures are rendered in a contemporary font, which blend into the sunburst dial.
A integrated case and bracelet
The watch features a bold stainless steel case with broad shoulders and an integrated steel bracelet. The polished bezel, bracelet edges and case side fantastically contrast with the brushed surface of the case and bracelet, reminiscent of the interplay in texture found on the Royal Oak and the Nautilus. The bezel has a notched profile, an homage to the shape of a Malte Cross, the emblem of Vacheron Constantin. The crown guards on the right hand side of the case extend the lines of the bezel, reminiscent of the "ears" on both sides of the Nautilus case.
At 35mm in diameter, and only 7mm thick, this Overseas case is a beautiful twist of perspectives and size. Thanks to the slim profile of the case and bracelet, this reference 42052 hugs the wrist, in a way that is both supremely comfortable, yet distinctively elegant and characterful. On account of the unique case shape of the Overseas, the 42052 wears larger on the wrist than its dimensions would suggest. Though its historical impact is lesser, this original Overseas design tries to forge its own path within the world of integrated steel sports watches, somewhere in between the angularity of the Royal Oak and the softness of the Nautilus.
This Vacheron Constantin Overseas ref. 42052 is powered by the Vacheron Constantin caliber 1126/1. This automatic nickel lever movement is chronometer graded, a feature which is proudly displayed on the dial and caseback. The 36-jewel movement features a mono-metallic balance and 21k gold rimmed rotor.
This Vacheron Constantin Overseas ref. 42052 is accompanied by its original outer box, inner box, manuals and Extract from the Archives (to follow). It comes with 14 links, including 7 removable ones, with the clasp featuring an inventive locking mechanism.