How does a brand modernize a traditional complication, and breathe new life into a classic movement architecture for a new audience? Vacheron Constantin provides a resolute answer to this question with the Overseas 4300V Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar with Skeleton Dial. A full gold integrated bracelet sports piece from a Holy Trinity brand, the 4300V skeleton brings Vacheron’s expertise in high horology watchmaking to a customer looking for a sportier package.
Vacheron Constantin is one of, if not the very oldest Swiss watchmaking house with continuous operation throughout its history. To accompany this heritage of horological presence in Switzerland, the brand has an equally impressive pattern of perpetual calendar production, with a perpetual calendar pocket watch found dating back to the 1800s. Vacheron was also the first brand to develop a perpetual calendar that obtained chronometer certification of Class 1. This achievement paved the road for other brands’ pursuit of excellence in the perpetual calendar complication.
Since its humble beginnings, Vacheron has released dozens of perpetual calendar movements and references. In contemporary times however, Vacheron coupled its classic complication with its celebrated Overseas collection of sports pieces. This came alongside a general shift of the high horology brands towards incorporating Grand Complications into the more casual collections (more on this later). Today, we are analyzing an ultra-thin automatic winding perpetual calendar with a skeleton dial, released in 2022 in rose gold.
The Vacheron Overseas collection has always been disproportionately underappreciated within the sphere of integrated bracelet sports pieces. The design of the bracelet, case, and bezel is incredibly sophisticated and finished to a level many of its competitors would never attempt to insult.
Throughout the case and bracelet, Vacheron has underscored its Maltese Cross motif. Each internal facet of the Maltese Cross bracelet links has been mirror polished by hand (a similar practice was used on Lange’s Odysseus), speaking to a much higher level of finish than a typical bracelet would receive. Aside from the Lange example, most brands leave the central links untouched. The butterfly clasp is also signed with the logo and finished alongside the rest of the bracelet in solid rose gold.
Alongside the purity of the rose gold case, Vacheron’s skeletonized dial is finished with scarce blue dial structures to display the outer minutes track, day, date, and month registers, and of course, the moonphase. Details continue to the complicated case architecture, with polished facets at the edges, which help to slim out the case profile and give the illusion of a thinner stature on the wrist. At 41.5mm in diameter, the piece is modern in size, yet not obtrusive. Also, a significant percentage of the 41.5mm was the bezel, meaning that the dial doesn’t look massive on the wrist. For the Overseas, this sizing works quite well. Additionally, the piece is a mere 8.1mm in thickness, earning its “ultra-thin” classification. It is quite difficult to find another Grand Complication that is simultaneously this wearable (more complication ususally means more thickness). The Perpetual Calendar is especially desirable for everyday wear for this reason.
The indexes are gold and filled with luminescent material, and give the illusion of almost floating over the expanse of the skeleton network.
With regards to the skeletonized movement, Vacheron has shaved off all semblance of base plate structure, meaning that the cams and levers that control the perpetual calendar mechanism are made visible. It’s quite an enjoyable experience to set this watch and witness the cam action in process. This adds a level of aesthetic intrigue that many are lacking on a perpetual calendar movement, which unlike a tourbillon or chronograph, doesn’t have a kinetic quality.
Overall, in spite of its slender profile and sleek finishing, the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton has considerable heft as a result of its full gold construction. The piece has presence and elegance at the same time, and together, this makes for a beautiful combination.
The Vacheron Overseas Skeleton Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, reference 4300V, is powered by the caliber 1120 QP/1. As with many of our best watches, the Caliber 1120 is truly the centerpiece of this watch. The 1120 as a caliber established itself as one of Vacheron’s most impressive ultra-thin calibers, and this particular variation is of course skeletonized, removing 20-30 percent of the architecture to increase visibility from the dial side without compromising the structural integrity of the bridge system. Part of the art of this movement is Vacheron’s expert muting of the movement flash so as to ensure that the top of the movement doesn’t interfere with the legibility of the dial. Vacheron has actually scaled back much of its finishing appointments on the dial side, since bringing the top of the movement through a standard finishing regiment would be blinding and make the watch nearly unreadable.
This movement is beautiful, and a big component of its beauty is its sheer slimness, yet it doesn’t feel fragile or unsubstantial, which gives greater peace of mind to the owner. Calibers such as the 1120 QP/1 help make it easy to understand why Vacheron has the reputation it has within the industry. Few do it this well.
Versus the Competition
Within the world of high horology complications incorporated into sports packages, the most immediate alternative to the Vacheron Overseas would be Patek’s Nautilus reference 5740. A beautiful micro-rotor iconic 240Q movement, slim profile, and integrated bracelet help underscore the quality of the sports piece. The 5740 is a bit more traditional than the skeletonized 4300V by Vacheron, but it is undoubtedly a sporty wrist watch.
Within Audemars Piguet’s collection, the skeletonized Royal Oak perpetual calendar is probably the closest competitor available on the market. A full yellow gold case and bracelet will afford significant heft just like the Overseas, though some may find the Royal Oak to be a bit flashier than the rose gold of the Vacheron. Additionally, it should be noted that Vacheron makes the bracelet to strap switch an easy process, meaning that from a versatility standpoint, the Vacheron Overseas will be better suited in more occasions (the Overseas has the same advantage over the Nautilus).
Finally, if you love the Overseas, with its unparalleled design and case finishing, but want a slightly less flashy piece without a skeleton dial, an alternative is the white gold variant with blue dial. Providing all the intrigue of the Overseas with a slightly quieter metal and a gorgeous blue dial, the 4300V in 18k white gold is the more reserved and tame version of the skeletonized rose gold variant. Each is made for a different collector.
The customer that buys a skeleton Overseas perpetual calendar knows their stuff. They likely have been collecting for some time and gravitate towards high horology, but are looking to throw their cash at a grand complication rather than diamonds. As price points enter the six figures, two distinct camps emerge— those looking at complication, and those looking at gem-set bling. Neither is more correct than the other, it ultimately comes down to preference, but the Overseas skeleton in rose gold is for the collector that wants to get as close to bling as possible without using stones. This watch is eye-catching: its rose gold case grabs the attention of the room, the expert finishing reflects light radiantly, and the dial holds an onlooker’s interest once they’ve noticed it. Yet simultaneously, the watch doesn’t simply call attention to itself without complication and horological intrigue to stand behind.
This is an incredibly compelling combination for many collectors.
Vacheron’s Overseas Skeleton Perpetual is as versatile as a skeletonized sports piece comes, with a genuinely slim profile that allows the watch to wear and present in a very refined manner. In terms of a modernized perpetual calendar for the fashion forward horological enthusiast, few watches will rival Vacheron’s latest skeletonized grand complication. We can’t wait to see what Vacheron does next with the collection!