Vacheron Constantin Overseas - An Historical Review

Vacheron Constantin's iconic sports watch has its roots in the 1970s.

In a challenging period for Swiss watchmaking with the rise in popularity for quartz movements, Audemars Piguet had just released the Royal Oak, a watch with a sleek design and a built-in bracelet. It was a timepiece revolution that dusted off the precious metal (leather) wristwatch trend at that time.

The 222 Collection

It all starts with the 222 collection, the first watch with a built-in wristband from one of Switzerland's oldest watchmakers. Revealed for Vacheron Constantin's 222nd anniversary, the reference number 44018 (Jumbo) is powered by the VC1120 caliber, inspired by Jaeger LECoultre 920, an ultra-thin automatic movement (also found in the Royal Oak and the Nautilus...!)

Collection 222 timepiece ref. 44018

The word collection often confuses collectors, the 222 was produced in different variations (sizes, calibers, metal...)

The dial of the 222
The "222" engraving on the caseback

The automatic version was made in both 37mm and 34mm diameters.

4401837MM1121 (base JLC 920)
4600334MM1124 (base JLC 899)

The 222 was taken out of the catalog in the mid 80's and replaced by the Overseas in 1996, from which we can trace back several generations.

A vintage ad
The 222 was available in a full gold version

The 222 is today very popular among collectors, with prices reaching new records. We attended the spectacular auction of this timepiece at nearly 157,500CHF by the Phillips auction house in Geneva, November 2021.

Illustration of a 222 sold by Phillips in November 2021

The first generation of Overseas

The first period was marketed from 1996 to 2004. Measuring 37mm in diameter, this first generation piece is powered by the COSC-certified VC1310 caliber.

An ad for the first generation of the Overseas

The references will then change later, with their only noticeable change being their caliber. The COSC-certified caliber 1310 is modeled after the Girard Perregaux 3100 and has an 18K yellow gold oscillating weight.

Image of 42052 model sold by 41Watch

Shortly after the marketing these first series (without being able to give a precise date, we can observe that the following references underwent a change (with regards to the caliber).

The second caliber used is the 1311, very close to the 1310 that was previously in service, with the characteristic of being 0.3MM flatter.

Caliber Upgrade

The first version of the Overseas chronograph appeared in 1999 using the Piguet caliber 1185 with an added date window at 12 o'clock.

Image of the first Overseas Chronograph ref. 49140

The second generation of Overseas

The second generation was introduced in 2004 and retired from the catalog in 2016. The wristband was redesigned to resemble its current look. The crown guard disappeared and the case was enlarged to 42MM. As for the mechanism, the model is equipped with the VC1126 caliber (based on the Jaeger-Lecoultre JLC889).

The Third Generation of Overseas

Introduced in 2016, the third generation of Overseas can still be found in the current catalog. Redesigned by Vincent Kauffman, its design is now much more streamlined.

Image of reference number 4500V
Image of the caliber 5100

This third generation now proudly holds a factory caliber ref. VC5100 with the prestigious Poinçon Genève quality standard and a 22K gold oscillating weight.

An ingenious new system now lets you change the strap to an alligator wristband or even a sportier rubber strap.

A reference that has long been shunned by collectors, the Overseas collection is now being traded (since 2021) at prices higher than its official list price. This surge in prices is explained by the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak sold at record highs, but above all by the tremendous "value" of these watches at list price.

The Overseas collection has a very promising future as a collector's watch

This trend has been confirmed with the last releases from Vacheron Constantin at the 2022 Watches & Wonders, where several versions of the Overseas pay tribute to the iconic 222.

Re-edition of the 222 displayed at Watches & Wonders 2022

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