The Vacheron Constantin Overseas has always been one of our favorite watches at Shreve, Crump & Low. The Overseas collection falls into that majestic category of stainless steel integrated bracelet, luxury sports watch, and is often compared to the likes of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and Patek Philippe Nautilus. The 1st iteration of the Overseas was released in 1996, 20 years after the Patek Nautilus in 1976, and 24 years after the AP Royal Oak released in 1972 – the originator of the stainless steel luxury sports watch. However, in this post we will cover the difference between the 2016 ref. 5400V (the third revision of the Overseas) with it’s predecessor ref. 47040.
The overseas collection offers many variations of watch including the time-only above, but also a chronograph, perpetual calendar, dual time, and now a world time (all refs offered in various dial colors and metal combinations) For the simplification of comparisons sake we are looking at the time-only versions with the white dials.
When it comes to the aesthetics of the piece, the new ref. 5400V looks more Vacheron-esque, it has a refined and elegant sensibility, while the ref. 47040 in contrast looks rugged and actually more sporty. It is very important to note the case diameter on the new 5400V has shrunk from 42.5mm to 41mm, yet the 47040 is actually slimmer by 1.3mm. The bezel to case proportion appears more balanced on the 47040 Overseas than the design of the 5400V. The VC Maltese cross component on the bezel is more smoothly merged into the design of the 5400V, but the similar bezel on the 47040 while more boldly integrated feels more at home on the watch.
The screw-down crown on 47040 appears more securely fashioned to the case compared to the 5400V, which is more exposed on the latter, but still screw-down.
DIAL – IMPROVEMENT ✓
The dial design of the 5400V is certainly an improvement over the dial of the 47040. Vacheron is heralded in-particular for their use of traditional hand-turned, rose engine lathing machines to decorate the guilloché dials of their more elegant dress watches, the 47040 has a stamped dial, which for some purists was a disconcerting feature. The silver-toned sunburst, satin dial of the 5400V is a welcomed nuisance. In general the dial 5400V is more visually refined. In additional to slimmer hour indices and hour, minute second hands, Vacheron has also removed the rather uncouth arabic/baton hybrid markers at the 3/6/9/12, as well as the “AUTOMATIC” designator above the 6 0’clock, which ultimately lends to this cleaner look. Some may accuse the outer second track on the 5400V of being too busy, we believe it frames out this new dial quite elegantly.
Of course one of the biggest change-up to the dial of 5400V is the repositioning of the date window to the 3 o’clock. While almost all purist bemoan a date window as the bane of a perfect dial, the repositioned date at the 3 o’clock makes sense on a sport watch. It also stands out better than the date window on the 47040, which gets lost like all date windows between the 4 and 5 o’clock…definitely an IMPROVEMENT ✓
The Overseas’ bracelet is one of the most intricate and thoughtful in the realm of luxury sport watches. Like the Overseas’ bezel Vacheron again looks to integrate the Maltese cross feature into the highly tooled design of the link bracelet, which once sized to the wrist makes for a sharp, but comfortable fit. I personally appreciate the pronounced taper of the bracelet on the 47040 from the case to the clasp, though the thickness on 47040 bracelet is not tapered and can wear slightly bulkier than the the 47040. This is the opposite on 5400V, the width taper is not as pronounced, but the links are nicely tapered in from thick at the case to thinner at the clasp.
There is also the newest feature of the 5400V Overseas bracelet, which is the quick-change feature giving the wearer the ease to swap out the bracelet to either a black alligator strap or textured black rubber strap with the flick of quick release trigger (both of which come with the watch).
The solid case back of the 47040 conceals an anti-magnetic cage that helps protect the caliber 1126 within. While the exhibition caseback of the 5400V showcases the new 5100 caliberone of the biggest new features of Overseas collection, complete with a solid 22k gold automatic winding system. This new movement is Vacheron’s in-house 5100 automatic caliber, which is a milestone to be noted, and closely examined over the next few years. This new caliber is both smaller in diameter by 2.2mm and thinner by 1.5mm than the 1126, while also managing to gain an impressive 20 hours of extra power reserve via two main-spring barrels. That is not to say the caliber 1126 needed replacing, the Caliber 1126 is a movement built off the legendary Jaeger Le Coultre caliber 889 which was co-developed by JLC, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe. A variation of each has been used in the AP Royal Oak, Patek Nautilus and JLC Master Control.
It is rare and brief period of time, generally ranging from 6-24 months of time when a watch brand releases a new model that overlaps with the availability of a previous model. At Shreve, Crump & Low we are currently offering both the 47040 and new 5400V you can further browse our selection here