I don’t get the logic behind introducing watches so close to Watches & Wonders — especially when you’re a brand participating in the show. However, Vacheron Constantin decided to do so anyway, with this new Overseas Chronograph 5500V/110A-B686 with a panda dial. And to be honest, if this is a preview of what Vacheron Constantin will release this year, I think we’re in for a real treat.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph Panda

The Overseas collection has been around for many years (since 1977 if we count the “222” model as an Overseas). The chronograph complication, however, was only introduced to this model in 1999. And now, Vacheron Constantin introduces a new Overseas Chronograph with an in-house developed and manufactured movement (caliber 5200). A true Haute Horlogerie piece with a sporty appearance, especially when worn on a rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet. On top, this watch comes with an additional black calfskin strap with grey stitching. The press release that Vacheron Constantin sent tells us about the history of the brand, its disruptive breakthroughs, and the origin of “panda” dials.

The press release even includes an interview with Style & Heritage Director Christian Selmoni about this watch. That saves journalists some work, I guess. But let’s stick to the details for now, until we get to see the watch in the flesh and do a hands-on review.


The new Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph measures 42.5mm (diameter) × 13.7mm (height) and is made of stainless steel. It has the typical notched six-sided Maltese Cross shaped bezel and screw-lock pushers for the chronograph. The dial has three recessed subdials in black, giving a nice contrast to the silver dial with its sunburst finish. Especially on the stainless steel bracelet, the Overseas Chronograph has this fully integrated design. A look that perfectly fits today’s demand for high-end sports watches. With the quick-release system, the owner of this Overseas Chronograph can easily swap the bracelet for one of the two additional straps without the risk of damaging the case.

Many brands still make a fuss about having such a quick-release system, but it’s not something new at all. It even comes across as a bit silly if these types of release systems get a special mention during press presentations, as it takes away a bit of attention and shine of more important aspects of the watch (design, or its movement, for example). Anyway, Vacheron Constantin just included it in the specifications, so my little rant is not aimed at them.

Taking a look inside

The Overseas Chronograph has an exhibition case back. This allows you to admire their in-house developed 5200 movement. And it’s one well worth admiring, with its beautiful 22kt gold rotor with special decoration. Caliber 5200 has a column-wheel mechanism for the chronograph complication and consists of no less than 263 components in total. This movement, with a power reserve of 52 hours, also features a date. On the dial side, the date is located at the 4:30 o’clock position.

From what I often read in the comment section here at Fratello, it’s not the most favorable position for a date window. That said, brands like Zenith and Vacheron Constantin seem to make it work rather well.

You will find a screw-down crown and two screw-lock pushers for the chronograph. You have to turn them a quarter to operate the pushers. These measurements also ensure the Overseas Chronograph has a water resistance of 150 meters (~ 15 bar).

Hot Take on the Overseas Chronograph

Vacheron Constantin was part of the holy trinity, or “Big Three”, together with Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. I am not sure whether that’s still applicable with some of the high-end brands that are out there today as well, but to me, Vacheron will always be in that special league of three brands. The Overseas, including the “222”, is my favorite collection of the brand, together with the Historiques American 1921 (I covered the platinum version here).

Even long before the hype, I was a fan of integrated bracelet designs, including the Royal Oak, Nautilus, and the Overseas. Even some of the GP Laureato and IWC Ingenieur models over the years. The Overseas was perhaps the least faithful to the original design compared to the Nautilus and Royal Oak, but that’s also something you could admire them for doing. Trying something new, rather than producing nearly the exact same watch they had in the 1970s.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222

This new Overseas Chronograph “Panda” is far away from the “222” but unmistakably related, and definitely a true Overseas model. Purists might not like anything else than the old two and three-hander models of these 1970s watches, but I welcome the ones with additional functionality. The Overseas Dual-Time Everest Edition was well-received, for example.

Final thoughts

What I like about the new Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph “Panda” 5500V/110A-B686 is the color scheme of the dial. The silver dial with a sunburst finish and its black subdials looks great. It also underlines the sportiness of the Overseas. My favorite look of the Overseas Chronograph (or any Overseas, for that matter) is when it is worn on the metal bracelet. Wearing it on a leather or rubber strap somehow takes away that “luxury sports watch” look & feel. When Genta and Hysek designed these types of watches, they were meant to be on a bracelet rather than on a strap. But, to each his or her own, switching it to a strap might be a nice change once in a while.

The case diameter of 42.5mm isn’t small by any means, but I have to try it in the flesh to see how it really wears on my 18.5cm wrists. I guess Watches & Wonders will be the place to try this new Overseas Chronograph next month. The retail price of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph “Panda” is €37,000 (including 21% VAT).