Peak condition: Vacheron Constantin Overseas

Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas collection reaches new heights with two new models based on a prototype tried and tested at the summit of Mount Everest

Watches & Jewellery 1 Oct 2021

American explorer and photographer Cory Richards puts the latest additions to Vacheron Constantin's Overseas collection to the test

Like many of the great luxury sports watches, Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas has its roots in the 1970s. The maison’s now-iconic ‘222’ from 1977 laid the foundation for this popular line with its instantly recognisable porthole-style, screw-held bezel; not only a fine aesthetic touch, but providing resistance to hard wear in tough environments. This distinctive silhouette would inform the casual elegance of the Overseas collection when it launched in 1996, inspired by the spirit of travel.

And just as adventure and exploration can mean many things to different people, over the years the design has been interpreted by the watchmaker in a variety of ways. Need a sophisticated companion as you travel the globe on your business ventures? There’s an Overseas for that. How about a tough timepiece that will take you to the top of the world’s highest mountain? Its latest additions to the family could just prove to be the perfect partner.

American explorer and photographer Cory Richards

These limited editions – the Overseas chronograph ‘Everest’ and Overseas Dual Time ‘Everest’ – certainly come with a pedigree that speaks to their versatility and robustness. Enlisting the help of American explorer and photographer Cory Richards, they are inspired by a prototype the seasoned mountaineer wore as he undertook his third ascent of Everest via the North-East Ridge in 2019, considered one of the most perilous routes. And as Richards can attest, in such extreme conditions, timing is everything.

‘In the mountains or on the ocean, time dilates and minutes can be experienced as hours, and days remembered as mere seconds. Oftentimes, our success or failure is tied to how we optimize our time…when we wake, how quickly we move, how much we sleep,’ he explains. ‘Speed equates to safety and can literally mean the difference between life and death. Can we beat the sun before the ice melts and rocks begin to rain down? Can we cross a slope before the snow becomes too unstable to traverse, warmed by the heat of the day? Can we beat a storm or must we retreat? It is all a measure of time.’

These are sports watches seen through Vacheron Constantin’s refined eye, with their contemporary combination of titanium and stainless steel, paired with a grained, anthracite-grey dial punctuated by bold flashes of orange. Both powered by the watchmaker’s precise and reliable in-house timekeeping, the chronograph comes equipped with a vertical clutch to prevent any potential stuttering when starting the function. The Dual Time is similarly technically advanced, not only allowing for clear reading of a second time zone, but effortless adjustment of the local time.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas chronograph ‘Everest’

As with all of Vacheron Constantin’s creations, there’s much pleasure to be found in the finer details. Look through the transparent case back and you’ll find the base plate of the movement has been given an NAC treatment, echoing the modern colour scheme of the dial. Meanwhile both of the models, limited to 150 pieces each, feature a pink-gold oscillating weight engraved with a depiction of Mount Everest, based on a photograph taken by Richards.

‘For me, these watches are an expression of years of refinement and effort. They are the manifestation of the reduction of the superfluous in the pursuit of the essential…and the essence of craftsmanship,’ he explains. ‘All of my endeavors have mirrored this journey…be them in art and photography or exploration.’