The Successor of the 222
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 focus on dress watches, and marked a new era of luxury stainless steel sports watches.
Despite being the last to be introduced in the integrated steel sports watch movement, the 222 offered a true competitor to the two other members of the so-called “Holy Trinity” of watchmaking, namely the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
An early advertisement for the Overseas.
Building on the success of the 222, the first Overseas watch was introduced in 1996, as the more contemporary interpretation of the original 222 design. As a direct descendant of the design from 1977, all pieces in the Overseas collection maintain several classic design features, such as the notched bezel, integrated bracelet, and minimalistic, almost industrial look.
The Overseas Collection
The original Overseas collection was designed by a team that included Dino Modolo, an external watch designer, and Vacheron Constantin’s Vincent Kaufmann. Initially offered in 37mm, 35mm, and 24mm, this particular example represents the largest version of the original Overseas design, powered by an 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.
The Overseas’ history doesn’t end there. From 2004 onwards, the Overseas collection has continued to flourish, and stands out as the canvas on which Vacheron Constantin experiments with bolder designs. Notably, they recently introduced a perpetual calendar into the angular case, including a skeletonised version with blue accents.
The dial of this Vacheron Overseas is a deep navy blue, providing a welcome contrast to the lighter, white-gold hands and index markers. Unlike with the 222, the Maltese cross motif is not featured on the right-hand corner of the case, but is given a prominent position at the 12 o’clock marker on the dial itself.
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 watches.
This reference 42040 also features a bold stainless-steel case with broad shoulders and an integrated steel bracelet. The polished bezel, bracelet edges and case side contrast beautifully 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 Maltese 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.
Due to the unique shape of the Overseas, it may seem larger on the wrist than one might originally assume. Yet, thanks to its slim profile and bracelet, it manages to avoid overwhelming the wrist entirely. The caseback displays the Amerigo Vespucci three-masted ship, hinting at the maritime connotations of the Overseas collection.
This Vacheron Constantin Overseas ref. 42040 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.
This Vacheron Constantin Overseas ref. 42040 is accompanied by its outer box, inner box, International Warranty, Certificate of Origin and Guarantee Certificate (with case number filled out, matching the watch), manual and World Service leaflet.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Vacheron Constantin Overseas watch will be subject to 20% VAT.