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(The 1st) Vacheron Constantin Overseas 42042

  1. Greatpa Jan 18, 2019

    Vacheron Constantin 42042 steel on steel.

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    This is not a watch review in its well organized and overall-looking way. Rather it is a collection of spontaneous remarks and comments. No watch was scratched during the photo session. *WARNING* PICTURE HEAVY!

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    The basics
    : Vacheron Constantin
    Model: Overseas
    Reference: 42042
    Material: Steel on Steel
    Size(diameter/thickness): 37mm / 8,5mm
    Water resistant: 15atm or 150m
    Functions: Time, seconds, date
    Movement ref.: VC1311
    Movement ébauche: Girard Perregaux 3100
    Movement mod./finish: Vacheron Constantin

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    Vacheron Constantin 1st entry to the luxury steel sports watch. That title suits the steel on steel reference 42042 from the Overseas series. Though not a Gerald Genta design you get the idea that the Overseas watch was created to follow up the Vacheron Constantin ‘222’. Because let’s face it, VC needed a new player in this costumer segment to compete with (the unavoidable comparison) Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Patek Philippe’s Nautilus (leaving IWC’s Ingenieur out for now). I would be more correct to call the competitors for cousins and not brothers.

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    To stay with the comparison the Overseas and the cousins all share some features: three hands, a date window at 3 o’clock, a sandwich case construction and what some people would argue; a tonneau shaped case. Hold on to the image of barrel shaped object from which the tonneau shape originates. It could be an old wooden barrel on an ancient trade ship. Bringing us to the case back and the medallion showcasing the Italian three-mast Amerigo Vespucci. On the sea probably with dozens of tonneau shaped barrels onboard. The image and theme of the reference 42042 is beginning to stand out.

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    Back to the front and presumably adding to the navel theme; the bezel. The bezel is the most noticeable design element of the Overseas. Maybe the creators had in mind to make this look like a porthole. Well… That may be the first thing that comes to your mind, but does the Royal Oak cousin’s bezel not look more like a porthole? If so, was VC’s idea ever to make it look like one?

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    Surely the eight outpointing geometrical shapes from the bezel reassembles the tip ends of Vacheron Constantin’s maltese cross logo. But there is something else: its distinctive shape is drawing lines to an industrial gearwheel, the tips forming the tooth from a gear wheel as we know it from a watch movement. If this is the case, VC and really the watch industry wanted to show what it is capable of doing. Leading to the conclusions that the bezel somehow seems to be overthought or maybe even overly engineered.

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    Instead of 8 male and 8 female screws coming together in the Royal Oak and visible from the front, the Overseas uses 16 male screws (8 for the bezel, 8 for the case back) to clamp the middle case. You can’t help thinking that you could have made the Overseas case construction simpler. On the other hand, if you come to think about it; the challenge of fitting 16 screws to a 37mm slim 150m water resistant case must in some way be an accomplishment by itself.

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    The bracelet. An elegant three-piece construction in a brick-wall-like way. Polished center edges completed with a butterfly clasp, finally secured by a snap-fit clasp held in place by a ceramic ball pressure system. Vacheron Constantin’s take on a modern integrated bracelet.

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    The reference 42042 from VC is not a well-documented watch on the internet, but whenever you stumble upon a review or comment there always seems to be a negative comment towards the bracelet. This is mainly due to the construction in which the integrated Overseas bracelet does not come right through. I talk about the feeling of flimsiness to it, handling the butterfly clasp and the ceramic locking system. When you actually succeed in closing the snap-fit clasp the ceramic balls eat into the clasp itself. Resulting in a wear that makes it harder to close every time. Some people change the whole clasp system for the updated Overseas bracelet to fix this issue. If you are thinking: “why not put a leather strap on it?”, you are onto something, only that a strap for the ref. 42042 from VC will cut you down almost $1.000. Surprised, not really... And it is only available in brown alligator to match the gold version of the Overseas 1st generation.
    Good design ques went into the bracelet, but the overall feel is more like a well-used 70’s solid link bracelet. Any strap manufacturer could surely make a coin or two offering a reasonable replacement strap for this watch…

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    The dial of the Overseas 1st gen. was made in various versions. Differing in style, color and finish VC made a range of dials to fit a broad audience. So, if you thought that the case and bracelet wasn’t your style, the dial would make you feel better.

    Dial options for Vacheron Constantin 42042 steel on steel:
    Sunray finish color options: Black, Grey, Blue, Salmon
    Matte finish color options: Black w/ numerals, Blue w/ numerals
    Guilloche finish color options: White

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    Matte Blue dial w/ numerals available only for the Northern American market, produced in a limited quantity of 75 pieces.

    Some additional notes on the matte black dial with military style Arabic numerals (ref. 42042/423A): The dial that suits the ‘modern sports watch’ the best, though the numerals appear oversized on the relatively small dial. Compared to the brand logo and brand name on the dial, they come to look almost miniature and out of balance. Should have kept the military numerals exclusively for the big brother Overseas Chronograph.

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    In some case the same can be said about the hands as well. Matte dark colored steel minute and hour hands drown in the sea of black. The result could have been better legibility. Maybe the not-so-effective lume could have corrected this (well, it actually works when very bright light applied is for 1-2 minutes). Luckily the polished seconds hand somehow cures the legibility problem by drawing the attention of the eye towards the center of the dial and out toward the hour and minute hands. (That dial needs a vacuum!)

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    Would the 42042 have made a more successful entry today if it had been in the 40mm size league? Maybe it could have been a real competitor to its cousins from AP and Patek, instead of being an aspiring luxury sports watch. Eventually a bulb at Vacheron Constantin sparkled this idea and since then the Overseas family have been growing. This meant changing the identity of the first model and as a result some of the design elements. When I say the first model I talk of the Overseas and not the '222', even though some claim that they are evolutionary connected. You would be fumbling your fingers to find the red thread, when trying to compare today’s Overseas series to the ‘222’ model,

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    The first Overseas watch is still a cool watch. It may have (definitely has) an overweight of design flaws and quirks on one side of the scale, but on the other side; charm and history.

    A true manifest from Vacheron Constantin, a child only a mother could love.

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    Notes on the strap adapter: This solution is something I created out of stubbornness. Vacheron does not supply any strap fit for the first generation Overseas. The link is of stainless steel fitted with a steel pin running through the strap and secured with a single screw from the back side. The strap is notched to make a fit and so, a strap fits the watch much better. Put a rubber strap on it: And now… You got yourself a sports watch!
    wl039097, Eve, EauTerre and 12 others like this.
  2. hungdangnguyen23 Jan 25, 2019

    Awesome review and love the pictures. This dial has more character than the newer incarnations of the Overseas with hashmarks instead of arabic numerals. It's a more polarizing design but I dig it!
    Greatpa likes this.
  3. pIoNeErOfThEnILe Apr 24, 2020

    starting to look at these in the 5/7 range pre-owned.........any thoughts comparing it to the rolex explorer and other like watches in the same price range.

    it has more f-off value than many watches in this price range
    Aquariusmatic likes this.
  4. pongster Apr 25, 2020

    Those numerals are mesmerizing
    Greatpa likes this.
  5. Greatpa Apr 26, 2020

    A fantastic and special watch. Yes the f*** off value score is high here.

    You get so much design detail and history from Vacheron Constantin in the 1st series of Overseas. And guess what, this watch is actually wearable.

    But... With the garuantee of sounding cheesy I will quote what I still believe to be true about this piece: "... a child only a mother could love."
    MikiJ likes this.
  6. rahilb Apr 27, 2020

    Beautiful watch, oozes cool... shame to hear about the bracelet as I really want to get one with the stick markers for every day wear.

    The bracelet was improved in the 2nd version, where they integrated the logo into the design: but the case was beefed up to a ridiculous 42mm (and I suppose it's thicker too?).
  7. Dsloan Apr 27, 2020

    Thanks for this write-up and all the pictures. The overseas line really seems underrated. The new releases this year, to my eye, seem to rival anything that AP, JLC, or Patek are putting out. Alas, all of this is far above my pay grade, so I'll just sit back and enjoy write-ups from others :D.
    Readiness77 likes this.
  8. pIoNeErOfThEnILe Apr 29, 2020

    how is the integrated bracelet? that could really make or break the watch
  9. Greatpa May 1, 2020

    Yes, the bracelet looks great. And that is that.
  10. wl039097 Dec 30, 2020

    @Greatpa I sent you a PM as I am really interested in your strap adapter and how you build it. Basically, I purchased a gen 1 overseas but the bracelet is too short. Looking for an alternative strap until I can locate the 2 extra links needed for the bracelet.
    Greatpa likes this.
  11. whoistrevorb Aug 13, 2023

    @Greatpa similar to @wl039097 Q... Do you have a tutorial on how to make or is there a strap adapter available for purchase?
    kylevuong likes this.
  12. kylevuong Aug 15, 2023

    Same question, I have exactly the same watch as @Greatpa but I cannot figure out how to add a strap or customise a strap to fit in. I bought the rubber strap of the later models and use a knife to cut off the excess but it doesn't fit...