Spiritual successor of the Vacheron Constantin 222, the Overseas has been the brand’s flagship sports watch since 1996. Despite being overshadowed throughout its adolescence by watches like the Royal Oak and Nautilus, the Overseas has matured into a mainstay of the nigh-unattainable waitlist watch world. Judging by the newest Overseas release at Watches and Wonders 2023, that trend is unlikely to change anytime soon. The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moonphase Retrograde Date Watch sports the same form factor and deep ocean blue dial we’ve come to love, but with a moonphase and a retrograde date complication seen for the first time on an Overseas.
A quick glance at the blue dial and 41mm case, and there’s no doubt this is an Overseas. The six-sided bezel echoing the Maltese cross, along with the trademark integrated bracelet are all present. It’s when you take a closer look at that bottomless lacquered blue dial that things get truly interesting.
For the first time in an Overseas, Vacheron Constantin has included a retrograde date complication. Vacheron Constantin is no stranger to this complication, having produced plenty over their nearly three centuries of operation. It’s one thing to integrate a retrograde date into a dress watch or statement piece but to do so in a sports watch, while also adding in a moon phase display and somehow keeping the piece just as sporty and, well, as Overseas as ever — now, that is a serious feat.
The retrograde dates circumnavigate the dial from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock, jumping straight back to 1 at the end of the month. On an aesthetic level, part of what makes this layout work so well is the sky blue dates and blue-on-blue pointer date hand. The numbers on the date match the Arabic minute markers positioned along the rehaut and help provide a seamless, integrated color scheme without calling added attention to the complication.
The second party trick of the Overseas Moonphase Retrograde Date is, of course, the moon phase complication. Though not as frequently seen on sports watches, when executed cleanly moon phases offer a whimsical, if anachronistic, complication that can be a pleasure to observe. Given that this is Vacheron Constantin we’re talking about, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the execution is stunning. Vacheron refers to theirs as a precision moon phase, as it requires correction once every 122 years, and the number of days since the last new moon (from 0 to 29 ½) is displayed above the aperture. I’m not entirely sure that was necessary and the 29 ½ is a bit jarring, but the numerals do match the rainbow of dates above. In a nod to user-friendliness, all functions of the watch are operated via the fluted crown.
To make the dial magic happen, Vacheron Constantin uses its in-house automatic Calibre 2460 R31L/2. Adding a retrograde date is challenging enough but making it durable enough for a sports watch without adding bulk (the watch measures in at a svelte 10.48mm thick) and retaining water resistance is no easy task. The result is a complication with 275 components that are richly detailed and visible behind the display caseback. The 22k gold-oscillating weight with stylized compass rose takes center stage, but there’s plenty of decoration waiting when the rotor spins. Not surprisingly, the calibre also receives the Hallmark of Geneva as a certified timepiece.
One complaint frequently lobbed at integrated bracelet watches is an inability to easily change straps. To that end, Vacheron Constantin includes a blue rubber and blue leather strap and a simple, tool-free system for swapping among them.
The introduction of this newest Overseas will do nothing to slow the Overseas hype train. Though there will be plenty of purists who prefer the simplicity of the time and date-only models (or the über complicated perpetual calendar), Vacheron Constantin has done a remarkable job of integrating both a retrograde date and moon phase complication while retaining the sports watch aesthetic with all the hallmarks of the line. Pricing is only available on request. To learn more about the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date, please visit the brand’s website.