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Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy?

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Guest post by Lex Stolk

When Vacheron Constantin introduced the revamped Overseas collection in 2016, a seed was planted in my brain. During this year’s SIHH I got my hands on the full range of Overseas models causing that seed to make a growth spurt. The Overseas is an ultra-luxurious sport watch just like the benchmark in that category, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Question is: can the new Overseas be a real alternative to the Royal Oak?

It was at a five-star hotel in Amsterdam where the Vacheron Constantin representative showed me the new Overseas World Time back in 2016. Earlier that year a completely revamped Overseas collection took the limelight during the 2016-edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). The Overseas World Time indicates 37 time zones, including those that are offset by 30 or 15 minutes. It is available with three choices of dials and comes with a steel bracelet, plus a leather and a rubber strap. Inside the steel case beats the caliber 2460WT, the same Hallmark of Geneva movement as used in the Traditionelle World Time. All in all, a very well-built and exquisitely finished watch. I asked for the price of the sporty World Time. The answer was around $40,000. Then I inquired about the price of the Traditionelle World Time in either red or white gold. Around $50,000 was the answer. As a reference point I asked for the price of the steel Overseas Chronograph that was introduced earlier in January. $30,000 was the response, which made me very curious about the motivation behind the price.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

8 Movement Components

Allow me to summarize and paraphrase the explanation I got regarding pricing of the different Overseas models. The Overseas World Time is positioned exactly between the gold Traditionelle and the steel Overseas Chronograph. You pay $10,000 more for a superbly finished and decorated, complicated 255-part world time movement in comparison to the 263-part chronograph Caliber 5200 that is also a Hallmark of Geneva and arguably just as complicated. To put it bluntly; you pay $10k more for 8 movement components less. The price gap between the Overseas World Time and the Traditionelle with the same functions in a gold case is also $10,000 USD. Because both watches use the same movement, that $10k is essentially the price for a gold case.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Over coffee we had a lively discussion on how the final pricing set in the Genevan headquarters. The Traditionelle World Time was already in the collection and the difference in price with a steel watch with the same movement was quite difficult to determine. The ‘VC’ management had to look up at the Traditionelle and down at the Overseas. Price it in the nearness of the Overseas Chronograph and the price of the Traditionelle World Time would look excessive. Price it within close range of the Traditionelle in gold and the new steel creation would seem excessively expensive. The consensus was found smack in the middle. With the introduction of the Dual Time at the end of 2017, VC introduced a $24,700 watch in the expanding Overseas collection that is $5k cheaper than the Chronograph, and you can have this watch in red gold for almost the same price as the steel World Time – although you don’t get three, but two straps, whereas a solid gold bracelet would skyrocket the price.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Bonus Straps

Since we’re now on the topic of bracelets and straps. The new Overseas range is equipped with a clever quick release system which allows for easy switching between a steel bracelet, the rubber, and the alligator leather strap; the gold version doesn’t have a matching bracelet but only a leather and a rubber strap. This system and the triple strap choice for the steel models is used by VC as a justification for the price. Let’s crunch some numbers. If you consider that the combined cost price of the rubber and leather strap is about $400 USD (this is generously calculated), it’s not really a significant part of the total price. The extra straps are a nice bonus a jeweler can use in his effort to sell the watch, but that’s it.


Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

The different Overseas creations are in the same price bracket as the watches in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak collection. The Royal Oak is the benchmark for many and hence is the watch to beat in the category of ultra-luxurious steel sports-watches – the Patek Philippe Nautilus reigns in the hyper-luxury category (I know, we are running out of superlatives, just how these big brands like it to be).

To fully understand the market situation, we have to look into some rather more obscure chapters of watchmaking history. Traditional high-end brands like those we just mentioned, you will find, have at least two things in common: they have been around long enough to play the “long-standing” and “historical” cards while they all strive to remain as high up in the market as possible – even if, in most recent years, we have seen them take more or less successful efforts to gain some traction in lower price segments.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Vs. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak: Which Luxury Sports Watch Should You Buy? Featured Articles

Nevertheless, when you look at Chrono24 – the world’s largest online specialized watch platform to buy and sell watches, which therefore is a good barometer of the market – the prices of new and pre-owned Royal Oaks and Overseas models tell a different story. Try finding a decent Royal Oak below $15,000; an almost impossible task, unless you are willing to go with smaller (36mm) cases. But if you’re on the lookout for an Overseas with less than $10,000 to spend, the search is not so difficult. Why is that?



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  • MildPeril

    Wow, this seems awfully similar to the arguments and observations made in the Watchfinder video posted to YouTube only 24 hours ago.

    • David Bredan

      Wow, because they may be valid arguments and observations? Give me a break.

      • Gin Tub

        But did you keep memos of all conversations…. I smell a conspiracy with Russian involvement.
        Perhaps Trump should just tell the FBI to sod off

        • David Bredan

          My brain… Mercy!

        • Tea Hound

          Can’t Trump just fire the FBI and replace them with Jared? That’s be cool.

      • Tea Hound

        Ha, and again, Ha!
        (I have no useful point to make, I’m just trying to stir up trouble, like the sorry lame jerk I am.)

      • Bilal Khan


      • MildPeril

        Do you know what, fair play. My post was uncalled for and I apologise. I like ABTW and I thought I was being clever on the internet but it was a silly thing to do.

  • ProJ

    The AP by a country mile. Although I wish it had a glass back to enjoy the movement.

    Edit: meant to say between the 2 chronographs

  • Lucian Virciu

    I would prefer Vacheron over Audemars. Thank you so much

    • Marius

      I think there is a misunderstanding. This is not a watch giveaway!

      • Lucian Virciu

        I know this is not a giveaway Marius 🙂 I have just said which one I like. What makes you think I thought this is a giveaway?

        • Raymond Wilkie

          ………… a joke, preferring one over the other and saying thank you in anticipation of receiving said watch. ……………….did i need to explain that?

          • Lucian Virciu

            Thank you, is for the article and “I would prefer” stands for I like that one better then the other, It is an opinion. I have read the article and I am grateful for it. I don’t understand what this has something to do with you guys and why this bothers you?

          • Raymond Wilkie

            It doesn’t bother me in the slightest , all i’m saying is ………….oh, never mind.

  • Yan Fin

    There is no dilemma. Bremont!

  • SuperStrapper

    Neither of these watches look good as time-only. They need to be chronographs or otherwise require more complicated dials.

  • IG

    If I wanted a watch with goofy bezel both would do. But I didn’t.

  • BrJean

    One thing that spoils Royal Oak for me is its evil twin named Royal Oak Offshore. But I really like the latest installment of VC Overseas line. I will certainly pick VC over RO and even over Nautilus if I have enough money.

  • PickleRick

    So who wrote this article….Chrono24 ?

    • Tempvs Mortvvs

      Lex Stolk. It says right up there, at the beginning.

  • Mikita

    I will be in the extreme minority, but if I had spare 20k – I’d better get a Piaget Polo for 7.5k (or 6 for minty) and spend the rest on Moritz Grossman or something similar. In result, my urge for funky bezel will be fullfilled (not that strong, actually), so as my urge for haute horlogerie movement.

    • Sort of a poor man’s (relatively) Nautilus.

      • Mikita

        Strangely, but I don’t like Nautilus’ case featuring something like a “tumor” on the left side 🙂

        • And yet it helps gives symmetry to the crown guards on the right side plus it really is part of the (at the time) unique case construction (a compression case of 3 parts).

  • In three handers, RO wins hands down.

  • Richard Baptist

    Royal oak, love that bracelet!

  • R Ramki

    3 ganders wise Royal oak without a doubt, not a fan of the Overseas bezel or it’s plain dial, a Laureato at half the price is a better option

  • Birdsong

    At these prices the steel Patek 5960 comes into play. Annual calendar and fly back chronograph.

    • Watching Time

      The 5960 is generally twice these amounts

      • Birdsong

        5960A is stainless and can easily be found for $40-50,000.

        • Boron

          And is a completely different watch, irrespective of its availability at a similar price point.
          And I doubt there’ll be much consideration for the new 5968 Aquanaut either, as a more suitable alternative – not least because of the likely demand/supply ratio when released later in the year.

  • Marius

    I don’t know who wrote this article, but I have to say that I find it much more informative and interesting than the usual self-aggrandizing Sunday telenovelas. Interestingly enough, when I bought my blue-dialled Royal Oak 15400ST in 2014, I was also considering an Overseas, but I ended up purchasing the Audemars for four similar reasons.

    1. The AP Royal Oak is not just one of the most iconic watches in the industry, it’s also one of the most important. You have to keep in mind that until the release of the Royal Oak, high end brands such as Patek, Vacheron, and co., were producing watches exclusively in precious metal cases (save for a few service watches). Releasing a high-end sports watch made from steel was a very risky move from AP. In fact, at its introduction, a steel Royal Oak was actually more expensive than a gold AP because machining the steel, and achieving the desired surface finish was so costly. What’s more, watches such as the Patek Nautilus and the Vacheron Overseas were released simply as “answers” to the Royal Oak. Granted, the Nautilus and the Overseas are also great timepieces, but if you want the original, you should better get the Royal Oak.

    2. The design of the Royal Oak is another decisive factor. Audemars was smart in keeping the very same design throughout all these years. For instance, if you compare an A-series Royal Oak “Jumbo” with a modern 15400ST, you will notice that the only differences are the case size (39 vs. 41mm), and a slight modification of the AP signature on the dial. Other than that, these watches look identical, not to mention that the Ultra Thin 15202 looks exactly the same, and also uses exactly the same 2120 caliber. By comparison, the Overseas went through quite a few stilistic changes from the 222 to present day. This is also an explanation for the rather poor resale value of the Overseas. My personal favourite was the previous generation Overseas; I find the current one slightly dated, and after having handled a few time-only models in person, I find the fit & finish not that great.

    3. The price is another strong point for the Royal Oak. When I bought mine, the Overseas (previous generation), using the very capable JLC 8XX caliber, had a retail price of exactly CHF 12,000 which wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was CHF 5,500 cheaper than the AP. However, the current Overseas costs almost $21,000, being almost $4,000 more expensive than a Royal Oak, and I really can’t understand why. Some argue that the Geneva Seal caliber if the Vacheron might explain the difference, but I’m quite skeptical. Any watch expert will tell you that the AP 3120 is one of the finest automatic calibers around, with a high level of finish. The main reason for its lack of the Geneva Seal is the fact that AP watches are produced in Le Brassus, which is not close enough to Geneva. As you know, one of the main requirements of the Seal is to produce the timepieces either in, or very close to Geneva.

    4. Speaking of movements, I’m also quite skeptical of the new Vacheron in-house caliber. Two of my acquaintances purchased the new time-only Overseas, and both had to return the watches twice for servicing because the movement just stopped. At the VC service center they were told that quite a few of the new models were returned for repairs. One of the biggest problem with a new caliber is that no matter his much R&D you invest in it, the first few years will be problematic because there will always be some hidden malfunction. Personally, if I wanted to buy a new Overseas, I would either wait for a few years until all the problems are sorted out, or get a pre-owned previous generation Overseas Chronograph that you can easily find for around $14,000.

    • Yan Fin

      There is actually a name “Guest post by Lex Stolk”. Agree, much more informed, informative and interesting than usual Sunday sermon.

  • Ap is the winner…/ Bracelet on the Vacheron is too wide

  • Playboy Johnny

    I prefer the AP ROO. Two things that I cannot get past, are the bezel and the bracelet on the VC.

  • BadgerHeel

    I agree with the general theme of the article. I am no longer flipping watches like I used to (no purchases in > 1 year), but I still firmly believe that resale value should play a role in purchase decisions. To anyone not in the top 0.1% of income/net worth, you have to look at alternatives and resale. These days, I find it difficult to justify buying anything other than Rolex, AP, and PP over $10,000 USD. Buying pre-owned really helps, and is how I acquired both a 25860 ROC (about $12k) and a 49140 VCOC (about $8k). So although these are older models, they both have the same base 1185 F. Piguet movement.

    As for the current model chronographs, the VC does provides more in that it is now an in-house movement (AP still uses the modified F. Piguet 1185 – their Calibre 2385), and the case has both 15ATM WR (AP has 5ATM) and anti-magnetic properties (I don’t believe the ROC is shielded). But the MSRP is $6k higher ($30,300 for VC and $24,300) which to me is very hard to justify.

    • Boron

      Justification really doesn’t come into the equation regarding purchase of a $25-30K steel watch – you buy based on whether it grabs you or not.

      At least in the case of the VCO, you already have the ability to swap between bracelet and straps, whereas the RO needs additional expenditure for its deployante and straps – albeit not a $6K outlay.
      While the crown access and usage is better on the new 3rd Gen Overseas, the overall design still falls short of the 2nd Gen (47040 and 49150), not to mention the dial not carrying over.

      With the introduction of the new Girard-Perregaux Laureatos (most recently the Ceramics and Chronographs), I suspect the Overseas will fade from consideration even further.

      • BadgerHeel

        Well I agree that the “justification” is really not whether to spend $20k plus on a watch, because I assume anyone seriously considering this watch already has decided that it is going to happen. What I’m trying to say is that once the decision to spend that amount is made, then what else can you get for that same price range?
        So I’d project that a $25k Rolex should be worth $22-28k five years from now, which is a lot better than what I would project for the VC (something like $15-17k).
        And I agree that the new Laureato is a very tempting watch. Similar look to the ROC, but different sizes, and better WR. Would love to see one in person

        • Boron

          A Rolex at $25K means you’re talking about PM rather than SS professional models, meaning you’ll be wanting at least 25% discount before buying, and hoping you’ll get most of it back if/when you decide to resell it!
          Otherwise, this hobby, like many others, costs money to partake, so all you can do to mitigate depreciation is to buy already pre-owned or at the right price from ADs/grey resellers.
          The current VCO should be acquirable with at least 20% off MSRP, but you know it’s going to cost money to own it.

          If you can make the effort, depending on location, etc, you really should take a look at the G-P Laureatos when the chronographs arrive in. Just looking at the computer renders alone, and I honestly believe they wipe the floor with the 5500Vs.
          If Chrono24 is any sort of gauge, then they should be had for around the $12-13K mark.
          Even allowing for the DD module being used on their 3300 base, just like AP ROOCs, rather than a true in-house chronograph (something AP keeps saying their is ready…but nowhere to be seen!), I don’t think you’ll grumble much that it’s going to cost a bit of money to own one.

          Good luck with whichever brand you ultimately settle on acquiring, I’m sure you’ll be grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat, irrespective.

      • Timestandsstill

        Totally agree about the second-generation overseas!

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Spooky,…….when did ABTW become a comparison site? That’s our job,…..well Marius really.And whats going on the the shirts from both Le Dve and Le Zach and no author of the piece was revealed. It’s all too confusing.
    Thank you for your very informative article but if given the imaginary $20k i wouldn’t buy either of them.

    • IG

      This is the preliminary phase of ABTW’s tranformation into A Shirt To Watch (ASTW).

  • Han Cnx

    Hmm.. I suspect it may be a lot simpler than if Genta was involved or not; Genta was involved with lots of other watches that they can’t give away these days, like the IWC Ingenieur or (possibly) watches by Girard Perregaux.

    I suspect that it’s just that relatively more people know the Royal Oak design, which makes it much more suitable to show off wealth. It’s the same reason Rolex watches hold their value so well.

    • Yeah, GG did some outstanding designs but he actually designed hundreds (or maybe thousands) over his career as a contract designer. And not all of these numerous designs have gained iconic status.

  • Larry Holmack

    If I had an extra $20 K in my bank account, I am sure I would be doing a perp walk…since the only way I’d have that much extra cash hanging around would mean I had engaged in some illegal activities!!! I’ll just stick to buying a new G Shock at my local Target, and stay out of jail!

    • The perp walk with your knees Larry? We need a film at 11 for that, ha ha.

  • Chaz

    Despite it allegedly being of noble stock and in that subjective trifecta of established “high end horology” brands (Lange, Patek, ###), modern Vacheron always comes across as the red headed stepchild.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Prince Harry? ( it’s always been a subject of debate )

      • commentator bob

        Is his father James Hewitt or some other guy more attractive than Prince Charles? We may never know.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          Well he’s got ginger pubes…………go figure?

  • Bozzor

    Probably going to get jumped on from a great height by many, but one thing that really irks me about these watches – and that is ultra expensive Swiss watches from the elite Swiss makers such as Patek, AP etc – is the scratches and scuff marks they accumulate, as evidenced from these photos. I know you can solve that problem with ceramic on some models at the cost of increased risk of shattering, but I fail to see why a mass market brand such as Citizen develops something like Duratect treatment for both stainless steel and titanium watches, resulting in watches that look new even after years of daily wear and companies that charge 10,20 or 30 times the price expect buyers to put up with slowly scratching cases.

  • God…what is with that shirt?

    • Sheez Gagoo

      I guess all the pictures of different watches have been taken on one single occasion and then spread into different articles. The local castle have a rug looking like this shirt.I’ll look if it’s still there.

  • egznyc

    Not that I have $20K+ to spend on the likes of these horological gems, but I’ve always felt AP has milked its RO cow so much that it’s really a one-trick pony. A good trick to be sure but after a while I’m thinking what else do you have? As for VC, I will always admire this brand – but mainly for its dressier and/or more complicated pieces. The Overseas can … well, remain overseas.

    • commentator bob

      Just like Rolex with the Oyster Perpetual. Nobody likes a one-trick pony.

    • Gokart Mozart

      Agree to a point, but the thing is the Jules Audemars range is were the good looking stuff is and the Edward Piguet range is where the watches for individuals is. Or rather was, but they have only got a couple of models now.

      Scandalous really as a complicated Piguet was a joy to look at.

  • commentator bob

    Nobody wants an Overseas or any Vacheron Constantin.

    Audemars Piguet Royal Oak vs. Patek Philippe Nautilus would have been interesting. Do you go for the more important watch or the more important brand?

    • Bilal Khan

      It’s definitely a good question, but I’d find it tough to compare the two as it stands today just because of the remarkable (aka double msrp) price the Nautilus is demanding these days. It’s never brought up as often, but I’d like to see what people think of as being a comparable peer to the Aquanaut. Royal Oak 41mm?

      • I disagree – price aside they (AP and PP) are good to compare. Which then lets the discussion go to why that is.

    • Han Cnx

      Unless you’re the pope, apparently. But this pope is snubbing his Vache so that leaves pretty much nobody.


    Why is resale such a selling point? If you can truly afford the watch why would resale even be a thought? The part i find intriguing is how similar they look. You would think at that cost they would have two very separate identities.

    Someone in the USA especially NY, CA or FL are buying a RO and wouldn’t care that VC existed. The same goes for Rolex buyers.

    I say it here a lot and I stand by it that watches are bought as status symbols first design second unless you can truly afford the watch and have no desire to tell the world of your net worth.

    Give me a Glashutte Seventies any day over either but I have IWC’s that fill the Genta quota.

    • Gyuri Rigó

      Resale means the market (real) value of the watch. Pretty important imho.

      • BRIAN

        No its not its people buying watches they cant really afford at retail price from gray market suppliers and reselling them a year later. If you could truly afford the watch how much you can dump it for the catch up on your rent payments shouldn’t be a thought or have anything to do with its actual value at the point of sale.

        I do agree though that inflated retail pricing is not the actual price of the watch. Although people like you and me on sites like this I somehow doubt are their core buyers. Would love to know percentages sold actual retail vs gray market.

    • And I think that is right and points to why in the U.S. the RO perhaps has higher value retention – which is a by product of the Baller acceptance of the RO and ROO. Without the mindshare of the tasteless new money athletes I suspect the resale of Royal Oaks would be less.

  • Timestandsstill
    • Raymond Wilkie

      Different times and days would annoy me.

    • egznyc

      That’s beautiful. There’s some diversity in there, but it could use a lot more color. Where’s silver? Orange? Blue? Burgundy?

    • commentator bob

      The ones on the left and right in gold, and skipping the stuff in the middle, would have been a better idea.

    • IG

      Yeah, collect all the stupid bezels.

      • hatster

        I have to agree. Wide, flat slabs of metal on the front of a watch does not make it more attractive to me. Feels like an exercise in ‘statement of ownership’… “I earn so much I can afford all this wasted expanse of metal”…. OK, I am being flippant but personally, that design element just feels like a lack of an idea. You know how old masters used to be put in wide, elaborate picture frames? Is it not that, but for watches?

  • commentator bob

    The Royal Oak is so iconic that even a really garbage pathetic knock-off of it might be a better choice than an Overseas.

    • IG

      Actually this looks better than any Oak because the bezel is not some half-arsed octagon.

  • James Miller

    Neither. They both look like leftovers from the 1970s.

  • cluedog12

    I have to disagree with Ariel’s conclusion. Products from this level of brand are about fulfilling the ownership fantasy of owning something that is the best of the best. If Vacheron Constantin cedes higher price ground to Audemars Piguet with the Overseas, they become the Kirkland Signature of Haute Horlogerie. There’s already plenty of competition when it comes to cheaper Royal Oaks, including the Piaget Polo S and Gerrard Perregaux Laureato.

    The Overseas is close to being objectively better than the Royal Oak, until we look at the dial. All of the dials have a superfluous double scale. It is like a figure skater who adds an extra half rotation to keep upright after stumbling out of a jump. It might be there to add visual balance to the dial, but a better designed dial wouldn’t need it in the first place.

    The big difference between the Overseas and the Royal Oak and Nautilus is that the Overseas is revised every ten years, while the others undergo very minor revisions. When the Overseas line is strong enough to stand the test of time, then it has a chance of matching the competition’s resale value.

  • gw01

    APRO; no brainer. Way cleaner architectural lines.

  • fts

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