Standing in the Heliport Blade Lounge on the East side of New York, we saw — before we heard — the four stealth helicopters coming in for a landing on the river heliport. These beauties were the first ride of the day on what was to be a voyage of land and sea in honor of the newly introduced Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time watch. The raison d’être of the Overseas Tour: to mark a new generation of Overseas watches and to offer a different perspective on the world and on time.
“Vacheron Constantin inherited its travel spirit from one of its founders, Francois Constantin,” says Juan-Carlos Torres, CEO of the brand. “We invite you on a voyage towards endless horizons, which continue to inspire our Maison.”
Those endless horizons included, after our helicopter ride to Newport, R.I., yachting on Mariner III as we headed to Sag Harbor in the Hamptons, driving vintage classic and luxury cars (I drove a 1963 Corvette Stingray convertible), receiving a New York architecture lecture, and mingling with famed photographer Steve McCurry, whom Vacheron Constantin hired to photograph a dozen places around the world for the launch of the collection.
Of course, the most important part of the journey was partaking in workshops for a close-up look at the new Overseas Collection, and how its revamping—over the course of several years – came to fruition.
We wrote at great length about the new Overseas World Time watch a few weeks ago, and you can get those details and images here.
However, after a thorough workshop on the collection, we have a new appreciation of just how much effort goes into the redesign and re-launch of an iconic timepiece line.
According to Christian Selmoni, Artistic Director of the brand, who walked us through the evolution of the entire Overseas collection since its birth in 1972, the line had really only experienced revamping one significant time in its history, in the early 2000’s.
The decision to redesign and revamp the line in time for this year had several footholds including wanting to use in-house-made movements, to make the line more relevant to today’s travelers and to offer something a bit different. The brand achieved these quests by building new movements, offering ultra-thins, chronographs and calendars, as well as the world time complication, and offering easily interchangeable straps and bracelets, and by offering a better integration between the case and bracelet.
“The entire revamp was four years in the making. We started in 2012 and went through many steps before we could see the evolution take real hold,” says Selmoni, adding that being able to turn to 3D printing for the cases and bezels, and to some other new high-tech formats for the bracelets, was a real boost to moving the design process along quickly.
One of the unique factors of the watch: the bezel is not within the case but instead is larger than the case. This was an unusual request by the brand designers and it was one that took some time to finesse and perfect.
“By having the bezel outside the case, we have the unique opportunity to make other materials if we want, including ceramic, for the bezel,” says Selmoni, who further noted that changes were made in dials and hands, as well.
Of course, incorporating in-house mechanical movements was also an important part of the re-launch. It took time to develop the different calibers, especially since the Caliber 2460 WT – that powers the 43.5mm Overseas World Time – is a patented movement. Comprised of 255 parts, the automatic movement – with alluring gold rotor with compass rose -inspired motif – offers time in 37 zones and day/nigh indications.
A significant movement also powers the Overseas Chronograph: the automatic caliber 5200, consisting of 263 parts. This movement features a column-wheel chronograph, double barrel and offers 52 hours of power reserve. The list goes on; in short, Vacheron Constantin developed an incredible six calibers for the Overseas Collection.
With a vision to showcase the sporty sleek appeal of the line, and its role as a true travel companion in today’s world, Vacheron Constantin hired world-renowned photographer Steve McCurry (whose image of the Afghan Girl appeared on the cover of National Geographic in June, 1985, and became a key image of that decade) to travel to a dozen locations in the world and capture his view of man, precision, global travel and more.
“We wanted McCurry to embrace the spirit of the Overseas as a time of travel, of rediscovering the world, and we wanted him to offer his unique perspective on that,” explains Torres. “The Overseas watch is the perfect travel companion, it witnesses all you do on your trips, all you discover. A mature photographer like McCurry can capture those discoveries from a different perspective, using eminent to connect with the traveler.”
While the first six locations McCurry shot have been disclosed already, the second six locations will be unveiled later this year — and will culminate in an event at the Manufacture in Geneva next year — bringing the Overseas collection, travel and discover full circle.
The Overseas Tour that we embarked on culminated in an event atop the Highline — a converted train track on New York’s West Side — where the Overseas World Time watch and the entire Overseas collection was officially unveiled, alongside the incredible images taken by McCurry of the first six locations to which he traveled. Not only was the event a successful showcase of the photography of McCurry, but also of the Overseas line. In just a few short hours, nearly a dozen Overseas watches — including six World Time watches — were pre sold. The Overseas collection of timepieces will be in stores this September.