Vacheron Constantin is a member of the so-called “Holy Trinity” of fine watchmakers, and as such they produce some wildly expensive, ornate, and high end watches that are more interesting as reference points to study in order to gain a better understanding of the history of fine watchmaking itself than actual products that one might think about purchasing. But they’ve just released a pair of watches that seem to have immediately warmed the hearts of the enthusiast community, and while I’d hesitate to call them “tool watches,” they come with a unique backstory that puts them closer to that designation than, perhaps, any other watch made by a Trinity brand (feel free to add nominations from Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet in the comments). And, as is the case with a lot of watches in this genre, that story starts with a pretty big mountain. Let’s take a look at the new Vacheron Constantin Overseas “Everest” Dual Time and Chronograph limited editions that are currently making news all over the watch world.
The easiest way to understand these watches is that they’re the product of an extremely clever brand ambassadorship with Cory Richards, a photographer and alpine adventurer who took a one-of-one Overseas Dual Time up Mount Everest in 2019 (unfortunately, Richards and his team failed to summit on that expedition due to inclement weather). That watch was made especially for Richards and his summit bid, which took him on a new route that had yet to be climbed, and made something of a splash on a press tour once it made it back a little closer to sea level.
The reason for the attention was, at least, two-fold: the watch was a unique piece worn by a modern adventurer doing something that was more than a little insane, and, as an Overseas, it’s a bit unusual. The Overseas is Vacheron’s high end luxury sports watch, comparable to the Royal Oak and Nautilus. It’s a “sports watch” in that it’s typically found on a bracelet and has the proportions and aesthetic that go hand in hand with watches in the genre, but even in steel, they’re clear cut luxury objects. This unique piece was made of titanium (with a tantalum bezel), which is a very different proposition for a watch like this, and it captured the attention of the slightly more luxe-averse side of the enthusiast contingent in a way that high priced sports watches from brands like VC rarely do.
Cut to late summer 2021, and this watch has reappeared on our Instagram feeds thanks to Vacheron Constantin’s fairly obvious decision to put the watch into production, limited though it may be. The watch seen here isn’t exactly the same as the Cory Richards watch that was actually custom made for him specifically, but it’s pretty close. The first key difference to point out is that we’re not talking about a single watch anymore – VC has added a chronograph to the “Everest” line, which is set apart by a titanium case, and bezel, and a gray dial with fine grain details. The chronograph runs on Vacheron’s 5200/2 caliber, which is their in-house column wheel chrono movement. It measures 42.5mm in diameter and is 13.7mm thick.
The Dual Time is a closer mimic of the Cory Richards watch, as it features the same complication and layout, but like the chronograph has foregone the tantalum bezel in favor of titanium. This watch is a bit smaller in each dimension, coming in at 41mm in diameter and 12.8mm thick, and has what in my own estimation is a more interesting and useful complication. You’ll find an AM/PM indicator at the 9:00 position, which is tied to the watch’s home time display (the orange hand). The 6:00 sub register is a date display, which is helpfully and intuitively linked to local time, which is ideal for travel.
Reports are surfacing on enthusiast forums that the limited run of these watches (150 of each) has already sold out, which could be because Vacheron was selling them discreetly to certain clients back in February. Let the record show, however, that these watches were priced at $37,000 for the Chronograph, and $31,300 for the Dual Time. Not exactly a value proposition on their own, but the unique piece did sell for over $100,000 in an auction with the proceeds going to the National Geographic Society. And with this watch now something of a hit, it stands to reason that VC might further develop the Overseas in titanium if there’s a demand for it, which could be an interesting alternative to the Royal Oak Offshores and Aquanauts of the world. Vacheron Constantin