In our world, one watch is really just never enough; yet, there is always the debate of if you could have only one watch, what would it be? An honest answer to that question might be the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin 4300V/120B-B945. This timepiece has everything one might want to be wrapped into one beautiful package. A casual everyday sports piece, an elegant dress watch, or even an uber-complicated mechanical instrument, this watch can do it all.
2016 was a big year for the Vacheron Constantin Overseas collection. The entire collection received an impressive overhaul. This brought about the use of more in-house developed calibers, open casebacks, and the quick-change strap changing system, which was potentially the most significant change. This year was also the first introduction of the Overseas Perpetual Calendar in white gold with a grey dial. It was not the first use of this caliber, as they have been using it for years in the Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra-thin dating back to 2011, but it was the first time seeing it fitted in the Overseas collection. In 2018 and 2019 the brand released a pair of color and case material variants, and the next significant variation was the first skeletonized dial version of this piece in rose gold, released in 2020. Lastly, in 2021 Vacheron debuted these latest versions, both white gold but one blue dial and one skeleton.
Vacheron Constantin knows how to properly influence their design using their Maltese Cross logo throughout the Overseas composition without overly exaggerating it. You can see its influence in the bezel, the bracelet links, and even an embossed impression on the tip of the crown, but it is all very tastefully done. The bezel is made of two stepped layers; the top a high polished layer resembling a side of the cross with six sides in total, and then there is a step down that is finished with a circular brushing. Dropping to the 41.5mm white gold case, you can see the continuation of a brushed finish with polished beveled edges. Taking a side profile shows how thin the case is, measuring over 8mm in thickness and featuring four recessed pushers used to easily set all of the calendar functions.
This boutique-only version features a stunning blue dial with distinctly white painted markings for all of the displayed information. Though it looks complex, the information is well organized and legible. The brand even chose to use bright white Super-LumiNova for the sword hands and hour indicators, making it easier to read when the light fades. This watch comes standard with the matching white gold bracelet that hides useful features like micro-adjustments for the clasp, and when the owner wants to change it up, it has easily swappable blue rubber or alligator straps. These straps even have a deployant buckle that quickly swaps between whatever option is being used at the time.
The engine running this incredible machine is the Vacheron Caliber 1120 QP/1. The caliber isbased on the 1960s original Jager-LeCoultre 920 Caliber, which Audemars, Patek, and Vacheron have each in turn used for their own movements. Vacheron’s version incorporates a full perpetual calendar with a moon phase that does not need adjustment until the year 2100. This caliber is still one of the thinnest full rotor perpetual calendars today. The rotor is made of 22k gold and is beautifully engraved with the Crosspoint into the design, most likely a tip-off to the nautical theme of the timepiece. The rest of the caliber is highly decorated with a range of fine finishing techniques, earning the right to bear the Geneva Seal. Then the movement is encased in a metal ring, making it antimagnetic. It shows some of its age with a relatively low 40-hour power reserve and slower 19,800 vph beat rate, but that can be easily overlooked on account of both its form and its function.
Versus The Competition
This Vacheron Overseas Perpetual Calendar is readily a sport watch or a formal dress piece due to its extreme versatility, so it is only fair to compare it to both a sporty perpetual and a dress watch perpetual. For the sports category, the obvious choice is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar. These pieces have essentially the same base caliber with some deviations in execution. The Audemars feels much edgier and less refined than the Vacheron, but both are great for daily wearing. This version of the Royal Oak significantly predates the release of the Overseas Perpetual, and sometimes it can be nice to have the originator of a design.
The Overseas has something the Royal Oak does not, though, and that is its ability to quickly swap between its leather strap, rubber strap, and white gold bracelet without the need of tools. A classy look only rivaled by the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5041G Piece Unique. That’s right; this version is a unique dial option never offered in this blue variation before. That alone should pique a collector’s interest, but more than that, this Patek is stunning to look at in person. The design of the tonneau case, the applied Arabic numerals, and that classic blue alligator strap make this a perfect formal wear timepiece. No matter the preference, both options are great, but only the Overseas effortlessly does both.
The collector who buys a piece like this will already typically have had and experienced many timepieces. This Vacheron is grail level for most owners and could be an outstanding achievement in one’s personal collection. Usually, this would be one of many pieces, probably from a broad range of models. It could easily be part of a collection of iconic pieces from many brands, but this is a rare exception where a collector could have traded in their entire collection just to own this single watch. Who could blame them if that is their choice?
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual is the perfection of many years of watchmaking experience. A blending of refinement and casual elegance. It could easily be a coup de grâce timepiece from this storied watchmaker, but only time will tell if the brand can surpass its own epitome of fine watchmaking.