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 Overseas design at 35mm, 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 Tropical Dial
In addition to its storied origins and sleek bracelet design, this particular Overseas ref. 42050 is distinguished by its rich tropical tone. Tropical dials are highly sought after for their attractive colouring, which is usually distinguished by a deep, rich brown with golden undertones and a natural sheen.
Traditionally, these dials were referred to as ‘tropical’ because they were worn in tropical countries, and thus, were discoloured after years of constant exposure to the sun and elements. The warm colours which they typically adopt also likely contributed to this association. A number of tropical dials can be found on military watches, as often, these military officers were stationed overseas, in tropical countries.
This transformation was almost completely accidental, as after watchmakers varnished their watches with a finishing that was intended to protect the dial against sun damage, the chemicals reacted in such a way that not only failed the original purpose of the treatment but created something entirely new.
Upon examining this Overseas 42050, you might be able to make out a slight blue tint near the edges of the dial, suggesting that it was originally a classic deep blue. It is unusual to come across a piece witch such an even colouration.
A integrated case and bracelet
The watch features an 18k yellow gold case with broad shoulders and an integrated bracelet, a slight departure from the usual stainless-steel. 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, a 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 combination of perspectives and size. Thanks to the slim profile of the case and bracelet, this reference 42050 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 42050 wears larger on the wrist than its dimensions would suggest. The back of the Overseas case also features a distinctive engraving of the Overseas emblem, a ship surrounded by waves.
With its precious metal case and unusual dial, this version of the Overseas not only represents the triumph of the series within the world of integrated steel sports watches, but also demonstrates how far the watch has travelled and how much it has seen – carrying with it a permanent reminder of the sun-soaked cities of years past.
This Vacheron Constantin Overseas ref. 42050 is powered by the Vacheron Constantin calibre 1310, which was based off the Girard Perregaux calibre 3100 based ébauche. The calibre 1310 is automatic, and the 27-jewel movement includes a quick-set date function and 46 hours power reserve.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Vacheron Constantin Overseas ref. 42050 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.