The Unusual Suspects: The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 37mm Is An Elegant Underdog
If you google this watch, one of the first headlines you’ll see names it the “The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 37mm (Without Diamonds)”. Clearly, this cool reference was earmarked for women only back in 2017. It was a time before most men allowed themselves sub-40mm watches, with “will also work for men” as the go-to phrase for a review. This particular headline read as if the reader might not even want to bother with a 37mm watch without diamonds.
We are in 2022, things have changed, and small is the new big. Many of you know this by now, but I am happy to wear smaller watches without feeling emasculated, metrosexual, or effeminate. Sure, I’ll still rock 40-44mm chronographs and diver’s tools. But for daily comfort, nothing beats a slim, dressy sports watch in the Goldilocks size of 36-39mm. And this, my friends, is one for the books.
The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 37mm
The Overseas range from Vacheron Constantin is notable for being one of the few integrated-bracelet grails not designed by Gérald Genta. In fact, it descends from a strong 1977 design, the ref. 222 by German designer Jorg Hysek. And while the 41mm Overseas three-hander and chronograph used to be sports-lux “stepchildren”, these days, that is no longer the case. On the contrary, these slim and exceptionally executed references have risen greatly in popularity in recent years. I’ve always liked the unique bracelet and almost ninja-star-like bezel, incorporating details of the Maltese cross logo to complete a sleek sports watch. I’m not knocking Genta’s genius, but Vacheron’s logo incorporation is a bigger challenge than a subtle focus on octagons.
The Resurgence of the Overseas
It wasn’t too long ago that in the integrated-bracelet game, the entire Overseas range used to be underappreciated. Today, however, it is becoming inaccessible. For me, this came as no surprise. It’s an accomplished design by the oldest continuously operating Swiss watch manufacture (since 1776, no less). And seriously, folks, Genta is not the only designer of peak 1970s luxury wristwear. People have understood the brilliance here, and the rise of the Overseas range has been rocket-fueled. Albeit not to the same degree as a Submariner or Royal Oak, chances of picking one up from an AD are now slim. And compared to those watches, a Vacheron Constantin Overseas is a superb alternative with added comfort and wearability. But there is a 37mm option in the VC catalog, slimmer and perhaps even cooler than the default 41mm version.
37mm of goodness with a 9-o’clock twist
This is a design that is eminently balanced, and it’s svelte for a sports watch at 11.3mm thick. The rich depths of the dark blue sunray-brushed surface are framed by the recognizable castellated bezel. Within it sit the large applied indices and rounded spear hands, all of which are luminescent. There is no date window to mess up the formal scene, but my favorite quirky part is the small seconds at nine. The polished, rhodium-framed sub-dial is snailed, recessed, and paired with a simple and elegant pointer. But unlike most wristwear in the predictable luxury sports game, instead of being placed at six o’clock, it is jauntily located at nine o’clock. It shouldn’t make a big difference, but to me, it makes the entire design.
Now, like the smallest Rolex Yacht-Master from my story two weeks ago, this is not a bargain or starter watch, so don’t expect any miracles. But it is worth looking at the market for the waitlisted 41mm version to get a sense of the relative value here.
At what price can you get small-diameter perfection?
As of writing, the cheapest 41mm blue Overseas on Chrono24 is two and half times the retail price at €56,000. Reality check, anyone? The 37mm version with diamonds, however, is just €100 over retail at €26,500. Granted, even I will consider the diamond-encrusted, Maltese-cross-bezel a ladies’ trait. But what says even more about the value of the diamond-less blue 37mm Overseas? Well, the simple fact is, there isn’t even one for sale. Search around and I’ll bet you might actually find one at its €19,500 retail price, yes, at an AD. Remember that feeling, walking into a beautiful showroom, being served espresso, and actually being able to buy a physical watch on the spot?
So, dear Fratelli, what do you think? If you manage to save up or find that winning scratch card, what would you do? Would you pay over double retail for a 41mm, wait for a year or two, or get this smaller piece of cool? Let us know in the comments.
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