Two limited edition timepieces explore a previously dormant side of the Overseas collection.
When American explorer and photographer Cory Richards attempted to summit Mount Everest for the third time in 2019, he had on his wrist a one-of-a-kind Vacheron Constantin Overseas watch. The timepiece was a prototype that had been specifically developed to withstand the expedition’s rigours. To that end, it prioritised legibility and robustness, and sported features like a titanium construction with tantalum reinforcements, as well as orange markings that were not seen on other Overseas watches.
Thanks to its uniqueness and provenance, the timepiece worn by Richards was later sold by Phillips for US$106,250, with the sale’s profits benefitting the National Geographic Society. The story doesn’t end there though. Vacheron Constantin has just released two new Overseas watches based on this special prototype – the Overseas Dual Time “Everest” and the Overseas Chronograph “Everest”.
The new “Everest” timepieces are limited edition releases, and just 150 pieces of each will be produced. Mechanically, they are similar to the regular models that they are based on respectively.
For the Overseas Dual Time “Everest”, this means an in-house self-winding 5110 DT/2 movement with a longish 60-hour power reserve. Here, the second time zone is tracked using an additional central hand and a day/night indicator at nine o’clock. Both local time and home time are set using the crown, with adjustments made quickly and easily thanks to the ability to make corrections both forwards and backwards. The date display at six o’clock rounds out the complications in the watch, with corrections made via the pusher at four o’clock.
Meanwhile, the Overseas Chronograph “Everest” is driven by another in-house automatic calibre, the 5200/2. The usage of a vertical clutch system and column wheel actuation is par for the course, naturally, as is the familiar three-counter layout.
Several features set these watches apart from the rest of the Overseas line. What’s immediately obvious are their dials, which have been grained and rendered in a greyish blue reminiscent of Richards’ prototype. Like their “predecessor”, the “Everest” timepieces also use orange accents to create contrast for at-a-glance legibility. In tandem, the colours give the models a far more technical vibe than what’s previously seen in the Overseas line, which has until now been largely dominated by the classic hues of black, silver, and blue.
The watches’ construction reinforce this rugged, sporty sensibility. Each has a case that’s mostly titanium, albeit elevated by having their various surfaces finished in different ways. The luxe treatment is typical of the collection, but this is actually the first time titanium has made an appearance in the current generation of Overseas watches – at least for those in regular or serial production. For a touch of contrast, the “lower” bezel is done in steel instead.
Other noteworthy departures from the regular Overseas models include the pushers, which can be locked with a simple quarter-turn of their screws (which are also new). The case middle has also been beefed up to serve as an integrated guard that now protects the watches’ pushers and crowns. Finally, the straps themselves are different; the two “Everest” timepieces will come with a rubber strap and a Cordura/leather hybrid strap, instead of the usual trinity of bracelet, rubber strap, and leather strap.
On the aesthetics front, connoisseurs will be pleased with the view through the watches’ case backs. For a start, the greyish blue dials are mirrored by the movements, which have had NAC treatment on their base plates to create darker surfaces for a more technical look. The oscillating weights have been customised too, and each sports an engraving of Mount Everest in a nod to the original prototype’s purpose as an alpinist’s timekeeping instrument.
As a collection, the Overseas line was among the forerunners that heralded the current wave of interest in luxury technical sports watches. Demand for it has remained strong over the years, and the new “Everest” timepieces will undoubtedly sell out quickly. The real question is whether Vacheron Constantin will continue to develop this serious, technical side of the collection.
Cover and stylised photography by GreenPlasticSoldier for Curatedition.
Additional images courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.
Artwork by Curatedition.