Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon: The Goldilocks Tourbillon? It’s Definitely Not Your Average Blue-Dialed Stainless Steel Sports Watch
If you are anything like me, then you know what it is like trying to make everyone happy; it’s a tough proposition. Trying to make everyone happy may be the single best way to make most people unhappy, including yourself.
In our everyday lives, we all have experienced it from one side of the coin or the other. The best examples come from companies developing products while relying on market research to reach the broadest demographic possible. The inevitable result of this is a watered-down product designed to offend the least amount of people and be mildly appealing to most consumers.
This is why some would argue we have so many bland cars, boring television shows, cookie-cutter music, and overly conservative and mediocre fashion. Exciting, innovative, or cutting-edge ideas are often weeded out during the development process because “a certain segment of consumers found it (insert arbitrary pejorative here).” And so, subpar products are born based on designs that nobody liked the best, but most also did not hate the most. Thus, the middle of the road wins.
But sometimes a design that is marketed toward everyone is also a great design and widely adopted, making it a point of reference. Then, after standing the test of time over decades, it becomes so ubiquitous and copied that it starts to be equated as a “safe,” middle-of-the-road product.
A good example of this is the iconic Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses. Launched in 1937 and worn pretty much continuously by the public at large ever since, the design is so common that if you were to try to think of a unique pair of sunglasses, these would be the last thing to come to mind.
But most would admit that the design is a great one, even if common, and that is the reason for its enduring success.
This absolutely rings true for the stainless steel, blued dialed sports watch. Widely accepted as the go-to design if you want to launch a successful sports watch to every demographic, the stainless steel sports watch bearing a blue dial is often derided by critics as the “boring and safe” choice for brands that takes few risks.
This isn’t entirely false (at least the first part): every brand with one in the collection will probably tell you it is one of the bestselling models. People like this specific style of watch because it checks a lot of boxes. As a result, it is kind of a safe choice – unless you take into account that you may be in critics’ crosshairs for coming out with yet another blue-dialed steel sport watch.
And this brings me to the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon which is, you guessed it, a blue-dialed steel sporty watch. But it is so much more than that.
Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas Tourbillon
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas has a pedigree dating to the 1970s and was the brand’s first luxury sport watch, the 222. Developed as a way to fight against the creeping doom of the quartz crisis, the 222 led the way for Vacheron Constantin to join Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet in staving off destruction, and instead ushering in a new era of luxury sports watch supremacy.
The 222 was produced for a decade before disappearing, only to be reborn in 1996 as the Overseas. Now, nearly a quarter-century later, the Overseas is one of the leading luxury sports watches and continues to be updated, improved, and experimented with.
The 2019 Overseas Tourbillon marks the first time that the delicate tourbillon mechanism was included in the Overseas line, and, barring the addition of a chiming watch, is possibly going to be the “fanciest” version that the Genevan icon intends to make. The brand has already made a worldtimer, a perpetual calendar, a chronograph, and a dual time model, all perfectly situated in a sporty travel watch.
What’s that, you say? The Overseas is supposed to be just a sports watch? Or perhaps you think it’s supposed to be a diver’s watch?
While many seem to hold these views (I’ve seriously seen people deride the Overseas Tourbillon because “it makes no sense to put a tourbillon on a diver’s watch”) the Overseas is, definitionally from Vacheron Constantin, a watch that “conveys the spirit of travel.”
Hence the Overseas moniker: it is literally talking about where you will go, and it ain’t swimming and it ain’t the soccer field. So since it is only a loosely sporty watch and definitely not a diving watch (though it does boast decent water resistance), adding a tourbillon is a great way to take the Overseas line to an extra level of class.
To me, the entire point of a stainless steel sport-oriented luxury watch is to make a versatile timepiece that wealthy people will feel comfortable wearing in a lot of different circumstances. You can dress it up or down, you can wear it with a tuxedo, a suit, or a t-shirt and jeans, and it doesn’t feel out of place.
Granted, a very simple time-only black-and-gold watch is more elegant (particularly with that tuxedo), but one can wear an Overseas Self-Winding Ultra-Thin in white gold and get a slightly sportier yet comparable experience.
This makes the Overseas Tourbillon a perfect pinnacle watch within the collection because the combination of a tourbillon with an everyday-wear stainless steel case allows that touch of mechanical elegance from a tourbillon on display but expands its use case.
We know that tourbillons can be put into rugged timepieces and survive just fine (with extra engineering) – see the Richard Mille RM 27-02 for example – so putting one into a watch that will still probably only see light wear compared to a G-Shock isn’t that crazy.
As long as nobody expects the Overseas collection to be beater watches (and, seriously, why would you when the darn things have the Geneva Seal and cost more than a car?), finding a tourbillon in the latest iteration just makes sense.
And given the responses that I have seen, many are claiming it the most beautiful Overseas model ever; clearly people are loving the style combinations.
Style: that’s where it’s at
And that brings me back to the style of the Overseas Tourbillon: the “blue-dialed stainless steel sport watch” as a common meme. But prevalence speaks to how good of a combination it truly is.
Some combinations just feel better to people because we all have preferences. Humans are creatures that like shiny things, and yellow, red, or pink gold simply are not as shiny as a bright white.
This is one of the reasons why platinum and white gold are so popular, but they also have the downside of being expensive and sensitive to wear.
And that is why stainless steel was a metallurgical unicorn that people had sought for centuries: it could shine up to the level of the precious metals but resist wear; it was thought to be the perfect material, and in many applications still is.
So while the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is only available in gold varieties, the Overseas Tourbillon was launched in stainless steel as a nod to the desires of many to have complicated luxury watches with fantastic movements in hardy stainless steel cases. For brands that never or rarely do steel cases – like A. Lange & Söhne, for example – the prototypes and unique pieces in steel are some of the most highly sought-after watches for collectors.
Now you can have the top-of-the-line Overseas model (not the most complex, though: that is still the perpetual calendar) with a stainless steel case so you can take it everywhere and get all the use out of it that you want.
For a practical person like me, these are design decisions I appreciate. But it turns out that it is also widely agreed upon. The middle of the road is actually the best choice here.
The same goes with the clean blue dial. So many have begun scoffing any time a brand releases a steel watch with a blue dial, but when people overwhelmingly buy the blue-dialed versions over all others, why, oh why, would they deny the people what they want?
Vacheron Constantin wants to sell watches, and people want to buy steel watches with blue dials: problem, meet solution.
So unless there is an argument that the color looks bad or it doesn’t make sense, then it’s a great choice for the Overseas Tourbillon. If you’ve got one flaunt it: a visible tourbillon from the face of the dial is also kind of a standard at this point for most brands, so again it makes perfect sense.
And then you have the added bonus of an automatic movement with a peripheral rotor finished to Geneva Seal standards, so there is clearly a lot of bling going on from the rear of the watch.
Plus, you have the bonus of an easy-change strap system and three strap options right from the get-go. I am always hesitant when straps need to come from the brand due to a proprietary attachment system, but if you can afford the watch you can afford custom straps too.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon is a beautiful watch. There are many people who loving the fact that the Overseas collection finally has a tourbillon in its ranks, especially given that the [Patek Philippe Nautilus deleted] Audemars Piguet Royal Oak collections have had them for years.
Some prefer Vacheron Constantin over the other two brands, and this gives them the option to have a sporty tourbillon.
Some have compared the similar watches from the other brands on price, but I’m fairly agnostic on that sentiment. If you are paying more than, let’s say, $10,000 on a watch, you clearly are on a different level of judgement than I (or most people for that matter) and value is already at least partially disconnected from purely monetary concerns.
In the end, I think it’s awesome that Vacheron Constantin has finally released a tourbillon in the Overseas line AND chose to make it a stainless steel version. To me, it seems like the most aware thing a brand could do in terms of making collectible watches.
And, if the stark design of the Royal Oak and Nautilus models from competing brands is a bit too much for your design tastes, the Overseas brings it back toward the center. The Overseas Tourbillon might just be the most centrist watch in the collection.
Now I’m sure that statement won’t make anyone disagree with me. But if you happen to be the one that does disagree, tell us why in the comments below.
And on to the breakdown!
- Wowza Factor * 8.4 Vacheron Constantin is always good for a wow, whether it be the movement finishing or the mechanical ingenuity, and the Overseas Tourbillon is no exception!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 84» 823.759m/s2 The force of this watch to keep me pondering is strong indeed!
- M.G.R. * 60 Super solid movement with peripheral rotor, tourbillon, and Geneva Seal-level of finishing, I’ll say yes please!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A The tourbillon is awesome, but it is not an added function (which is why there is always an argument not being considered a complication). As such you can skip the Gotta-HAVE-That cream this time around.
- Ouch Outline * 9.1 Sanding the pads of your fingers off when spending eight hours sanding a project! At four hours, your fingers are sore. At six, it’s clear there is a lot of wear, but by eight hours you have disfigured fingerprints! Still I would probably do it again for a chance to get the Overseas Tourbillon on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Give it a minute . . . ! Unless you dislike tourbillons and think a blue dial is passé, I’m sure after a few minutes with the Overseas Tourbillon you will find it actually fits quite perfectly on your wrist!
- Awesome Total * 620 Take the movement number (2160) divide by the water resistance in bar (5), then add the number of components in the movement (188) for a very solid awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.vacheron-constantin.com/en2/watches/overseas/overseas-tourbillon.
Quick Facts Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon
Case: 42.5 x 10.39 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 2160 with 60-second tourbillon, peripheral rotor, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, Geneva Seal
Functions: hours, minutes
You may also enjoy:
A History Of Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas Line, Culminating In 2016’s Worldtimer
2016 Vacheron Constantin Overseas Reflects Travel, Companionship, And Extremely Easy Strap Interchangeability
Cory Richards: A Vacheron Constantin ‘One Of Not Many’ And His Unique Piece Overseas Dual Time On Mount Everest
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Thanks for this terrific article. I really think this is an amazing watch. My question is this: you mentioned in your article that Patek and Audemars have had Tourbillons in their sport watches for years. Specifically you mention the Nautilus and the Royal Oak. I am aware of the Royal Pak Tourbillon but have never seen nor heard of a Patek Nautilus Tourbillon. Have I missed something? Thanks for your response and thanks again for the insightful article.
Thank you so much for your question! I had to pause for a moment when I read it and realized that I hadn’t fact checked that statement because, at least in my mind, I knew I had seen one. So I did a quick Google search and it appears you may be right! I think that is a case of my mind filling in a blank because of course they did, right? But alas it appears the Nautilus may have never contained a tourbillon, making it now the last holdout after the Overseas has added one. I’ll make sure that is edited, thanks for keeping me on my toes!
Not a problem whatsoever, Joshua. You write many fine articles which I am sure others, as well as myself, enjoy immensely. I was not trying to correct you either; I was just scratching my own head here:)
Thanks for your reply. I can rest easier now knowing that I have not completely lost my mind . . . yet anyway!
All the best,
Nautilus bit corrected for you, Ed.