Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review

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Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Thus, arguably the most valuable aspect of the Royal Oak and Nautilus watches is that they are relatively reliable signs of wealth, and that they are reliably recognized. This means that any watch seeking to earnestly compete with these titans of expensive steel needs to be both distinctive and easy to recognize, as well as controlled enough in the market to get prices close to (or above) the retail price. Each of these elements is directly-related to the ability of the watch to be an authentic luxury object, as well as an authentic statement to the world of being a recognized luxury object.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

How does the updated Vacheron Constantin Overseas watch fare in comparison? I won’t focus on price resiliency as the collection is still a bit too new, and the entire industry is facing a distribution and pricing crisis. That would be a conversation for another time. The short answer is that while I am sure various parts of the world have slightly differing prices for the Overseas, it is still a high-end watch with a price to match. The question is whether or not people recognize it as such.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

While Vacheron Constantin has been careful to preserve the Overseas’ signature bezel and bracelet design, I’m not sure it is enough to call attention to the collection visually from onlookers. At least in the west, the Overseas has been so uncommon in the wild (in public), I am not sure that enough people know what to look for. Also, aside from the bracelet and bezel, which is more challenging to spot than, for example, that of a Royal Oak, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas doesn’t have too much that is terribly distinctive. That means those wearing it with the intention of showing it off, might find it much harder to find familiar eyes than if they wore the competition. Of course, it isn’t as though Vacheron Constantin has marketed the Overseas in any appreciable manner – so part of this reality is to be expected.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
The previous Overseas Chronograph

This is a good time to discuss the outgoing generation Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph, which was actually a bit more distinctive. It didn’t have the same type of manufacture movement, and it was a bit more simple overall but the more squat case and easy to recognize bracelet were arguably better than the newer model. Going back to the case, the newer Overseas is more tonneau-style in shape, whereas the older model wasn’t as “long,” which benefited the look while the watch is being worn on the metal bracelet. Thus, even though the newer Overseas is an upgrade in many ways, the new larger Overseas Chronograph might have lost a bit of the visual mojo that made the collection have its distinctive charm.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In terms of size the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V family is 42.5mm wide (versus 42mm of the older generation) and 13.7mm thick (versus 12.45mm of the older generation). The case is still water resistant to 150m and has a sapphire crystal on the top and bottom. The added thickness especially makes for a rather large sized luxury sports watch. The three-hand Overseas Simple Date is easily the better option if case thickness is important to you. If you want a luxury sports watch and want something rather large, then the Overseas Chronograph is the right option for you. Given that I tend to associate these “high society” steel sports watches as being valued for their thin profile then, in my opinion, the thickness of the Overseas Chronograph makes for a cool looking watch, but not a particularly genteel-feeling watch.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The coolest trick that Vacheron Constantin taught the Overseas was how to swap the bracelet and strap. The Overseas now comes with a tool-less strap removal system, along with three strap/bracelet options per watch. This includes the matching steel bracelet, an alligator strap, and a high-quality rubber strap. Spoiler alert – I found the rubber strap to be both the best looking and the most comfortable.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

A small pusher, which can easily cut you if aren’t careful, under each of the lugs allows you to remove the strap relatively easily once you get the hang of it. Though you can see that the joint where the strap and bracelet connect with the lugs is extremely small. This means not a lot of the strap is actually connected to the case. While I found the connection point to be secure, I have concerns about how this system would wear over time. I’m not saying that it would develop issues over time, but I am saying that given the small connection point, it is something that I would be concerned about.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The tapering steel bracelet is comfortable enough, but doesn’t feel like something you’d find on a watch of this pedigree. The links are appreciably more simple in design as compared to the previous generation Overseas, and the deployant clasp is akin to something you’d find on a watch at a fraction of the price. From an ergonomic and construction standpoint, there isn’t anything wrong with the bracelet, but again, it feels like something you’d find on a watch at a mere fraction of the price.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At $30,000 I expect even the deployant on the bracelet to be both interesting and artistically made. The bracelet feels machine finished (I’m not familiar with the actual polishing and finishing technique Vacheron Constantin uses), and there doesn’t appear to be anything hand-done about the bracelet, or any part of the watch’s exterior. When it comes to finishing, a discerning eye will take issue with the exterior of the Overseas Chronograph – especially the bracelet.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

For me a luxury sports watch in steel is something that always has an exceptional bracelet option. So to say that for me the Overseas Chronograph felt best off the bracelet and on the strap kinda hurts. I’m not trying to be unkind to Vacheron Constantin, but rather giving them a message that says “I know you can do better, I want you to do better, so please do better.”

Years ago I complained about the design and theme of the Vacheron Constantin Quai de L’Ile personalized watch collection, and within about a year or two the brand discontinued it (and no one has mentioned it ever since until the brand brought the Quai de L’Ile back the way it needed to be without the convoluted dial and personalization element). More so, the brand (at least the people who worked there at the time) actually personally thanked me for forcing them to have a conversation about the watch’s problems internally – a conversation that led to a productive company decision.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I know Vacheron Constantin is going to be irritated with this review of the Overseas Chronograph because I call out various things they are doing which could be improved. It probably won’t occur to them that I spent about 20 hours of my life writing this review, recording a video, and photographing the watch (not to mention actually wearing it and thinking about it). Emotionally invested in their products, they will indeed be understandably hurt. All I can do is remind them that I do this because I like watches and I like brands that make good watches. When a good brand doesn’t make a watch that is as good as I and others expect from them I need to tell them. When no ones gives them feedback, no improvements can ever be made. Vacheron Constantin, you make some incredibly wonderful things so you’ve set the bar for yourself rather high. Now own up to that high bar, and give the competition a serious Overseas that can kick ass.

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Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Moving on to the straps, given that they are thinner and wrap around the wrist more easily than the steel bracelet – they are in my opinion the preferred way to wear the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph. Actually, let me add that the three-hand Overseas Simple Date is likely a lot more comfortable on the bracelet given that the case is 41mm wide (so 1.5mm narrower) and almost 3mm thinner at 11mm thick.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Given the quick release system for the straps it is easy to put them on. That also includes the secondary folding deployant clasp that you also need to attach in order to wear the strap. These are simple to swap out with some clever engineering, but also have a similarly small connection point issue. I am however sort of annoyed that Vacheron Constantin includes just one deployant clasp that you need to switch out between the rubber and leather strap. This part is steel, probably not too expensive to make, and not the type of thing I feel should be skimped on in a watch at this price point.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Again, we aren’t talking $10,000 or even $20,000. We are talking a watch with a retail price just shy of $30,000. Is that a price point where an owner should be expected to share a relatively simple steel part between two included straps? I’d just assume that each included strap has enough hardware so that it doesn’t need to share with other parts. In defense of Vacheron Constantin, they aren’t the only watch brand to do things like this. The good news is that I am sure you can buy an extra one from the brand.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

As I said above, the rubber strap was my favorite here. It is thin enough to be pliable and has a nice look to it. This generation Overseas Chronograph was meant for rubber… The rubber strap matches the color of the dial, which for now is available in sliver/white, metallic brown, and blue for the Overseas collection. Brown is the latest addition and it is pretty nice. I like the blue dial the best for the chronograph, and the white dial the most for the three hand. What is really nice about the white dial is the black-colored hands and applied hour markers as they present the most effective legibility due to the contrast with the face.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Overall the Overseas Chronograph dial is well-done. The two biggest complaints people will have are really a matter of taste. This is one area where Vacheron Constantin has applied its famed attention to detail and made the dial very nice looking. The first complaint people will have is the placement and presence of the date window. Maybe even more conspicuous by its frame, the date window between 4 and 5 o’clock breaks the dial’s otherwise attractive symmetry. More so, it very visibly sticks out.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I personally wasn’t bothered by the date window, but I know that a lot of watch lovers take issue with date windows which aren’t ideally placed on a dial. So much so that many watch collectors simply don’t want watch makers today to include a date window when it doesn’t add to the aesthetics. If you recall, the previous generation Overseas Chronograph made use of a big date indicator under 12 o’clock. On a positive note, I do like the font Vacheron Constantin chose for the date window.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Recessed sub-dials add welcome depth to the dial with yet a third plane for the eye to look at (under the dial, which itself is under the hour markers and hands). The dial also has a lot of luminant on it so viewing it in the dark is usually pretty easy. Dial legibility is good and there is a nice picture of “stuff to look at” and simplicity. With that said, what the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph dial has in handsome looks and functionality, it lacks in distinctive personality. No one element on the dial makes the watch an Overseas, or a Vacheron Constantin for that matter (aside from the logo that is).

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I’ll finish up the review with the star of the show in the Overseas Chronograph which is the in-house made Vacheron Constantin caliber 5200 automatic chronograph movement applied with the prestigious Seal of Geneva. To learn more about what the Seal of Geneva is, and why it might mean something to watch collectors, I advise you to consult an article we did with Richemont Group sister brand Roger Dubuis, which is located really, really close to Vacheron Constantin in Geneva. The application of the Seal of Geneva is a promise of sorts. These days it is a promise of performance, production location (in the canton of Geneva), and of aesthetics. In order to get the Seal, a movement has to do a lot of things, and more than ever the Seal of Geneva is worth it.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Vacheron Constantin caliber 5200 is pretty, large in size, and relatively modern. Nevertheless, it bears many of the tell-tale signs of a traditional hand-finished mechanical Swiss movement. Visible through the back of the Overseas watch, you can view the caliber 5200 movement with its impressive looking solid-gold automatic rotor. Small details are nice to admire such as the Vacheron Constantin Maltese Cross logo topping the chronograph’s column wheel transmission system.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The 5200 movement operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph) and has a power reserve of at least 52 hours. It is a large movement at just over 30mm wide and 6mm thick. That does limit this to mainly sports watches that Vacheron Constantin can use this in. I say this because it is entirely possible that Vacheron Constantin will make good use of their movement investment by finding other watch models to put it in, but given its size we aren’t like to see the caliber 5200 in a svelte dress watch.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The reviewed Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph models are the reference 5500V/110A-B075 in white, the 5500V/110A-B147 in brown, and there is also the not-pictured 5500V/110A-B148 in blue. Each is a perfectly capable nice watch. Vacheron Constantin did an amicable job in presenting a pleasant, while not groundbreaking luxury sports watch. With that said, there isn’t very much the Overseas Chronograph has which other brands don’t have, and that is a must have feature. The Geneva Seal might be one of those things, but I’m not sure it alone is enough to sway a lot of undecided consumers.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

What Vacheron Constantin needs to do is first present a real personality for the Overseas in their marketing, and then create a watch that perfectly fits that personality. This type of watch sits at the upper echelon of what a steel watch should be all about. Value here is in prestige and finishing, things which the Overseas Chronograph has, but arguably could have a lot more of. Even the brand doesn’t have that much to say about the collection. Their sole introduction to the Overseas collection on their website is the rather anemic and generic statement, “An invitation to travel. The sleek, sporty Overseas line is intended for all those who love complications that are useful in everyday life.” I’m not sure how that exact same statement doesn’t apply to dozens and dozens of other watches.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The person for whom a Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph is ideal is someone who likes large sports watches, likes to show off, but really doesn’t like to show off in the way that others around them do. The biggest competitors to the Overseas are the Royal Oak and the Nautilus. Those models are more popular than the Overseas, but they are also relatively abundant in specific social circles. Does wearing one of them say anything interesting about you, other than that you can afford it? Not really. The Overseas comes with a relatively blank slate. That means the person wearing it gives the watch all the personality that right now Vacheron Constantin isn’t able to. For iconoclasts who want a larger-sized lifestyle luxury sports watch in steel, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph is for you. Price is $28,900. vacheron-constantin.com

Necessary Data
>Brand: Vacheron Constantin
>Model: Overseas Chronograph 5500V series watch
>Price: $28,900
>Size: 42.5mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone who can afford it who can handle its size and who has already ruled out the competition for one reason or another.
>Best characteristic of watch: Dial is mostly elegant and easy to read. Has all the elements a high-end slick sports watch should have. Movement is lovely and comes with a lot of bragging rights.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Lacks a distinctive look which allows onlookers to identify it for what it is. Bracelet doesn’t feel its worth. Strap changing system is a good idea, but comes with some drawbacks and limitations.

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What do you think?
  • Interesting (24)
  • Thumbs up (17)
  • I want it! (10)
  • Classy (7)
  • I love it! (1)

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