Our office’s #watches chatroom in Slack is a place for me, my editors, fellow writers and design team to discuss upcoming stories, breaking news and generally shoot the shit about the industry. It’s also a place for Photography Manager Henry Phillips to generally disagree with me. He’s a wonderful person, but he has contentious opinions.
A while back, when we were compiling our list of our favorite world time watches, Henry opined that world time watches are “dumb.” He felt that they are needlessly complex and, on the whole, not very attractive. Why bother, when a GMT will keep tabs on a second time zone in a simpler package? I countered with the new Vacheron Overseas World Time, as a standout in the category for its design. He begrudgingly agreed that it was an exception to his rule.
The standard Overseas, formerly known as the 222, is one of the many angular, luxury sports watches originally designed during the ’70s — along the lines of the Audemars-Piguet Royal Oak and Patek Philippe Nautilus. Unlike the AP and Patek, though, the 222 was not an instant success. The watch was eventually renamed the Overseas; in recent years, Vacheron has been doing its best to breathe new life into the timepiece by giving it new features and variants.
Vacheron’s recent updates to the Overseas collection include a all-new in-house three-hand and chronograph movement, an ultra-thin version and a perpetual calendar. The World Time is the latest edition.
While the standard Overseas comes in at a conservative 41mm in diameter and 11mm thick, the World Time’s diameter and thickness has ballooned to 43.5mm and 12.6mm thick to accommodate the bulky complication inside. The 2460WT movement inside the Overseas isn’t new — it debuted in 2011 in the Patrimony World Time — but it is stunning. It’s capable of keeping time in 37 different time zones (including those offset by 15 or 30 minutes), the only full-on world time watch that can do so. But the 2460WT’s most stunning element is its rotor: a 22k gold piece, adorned with a sculpted compass rose that looks like a chunk of a gold doubloon plucked from the ocean floor.
The Overseas World Time makes sense, not just as a fine piece of horological geekery, but as a reliable, globetrotting companion.
On the dial, the most conspicuous design element is the central, velvet-finished Lambert projection map. As far as map projections on watch faces go, it’s more subtle execution than similar contenders from both Montblanc and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Around that map projection are two discs, one displaying the city names of the 37 different time zones. Each city name is sharply displayed in blue and white against a dark blue background, while the neighboring 24-hour ring is hued in silver and black. It’s a lot to take in — and a busy dial is the biggest knock Henry and other world time haters have against the complication — but here, like one of those magic eye posters, you stare, you focus, you get frustrated and then finally it clicks and makes sense.
But for all the Overseas World Time’s details and its luxe, Vacheron still desperately wanted to make the $37,000 watch an everyday wearer. Somehow, it’s worked. It’s rated for 150 meters of water resistance, and is built with an antimagnetic soft-iron cage inside. And like the rest of the Overseas collection, it boasts Vacheron’s quick-release strap changing system, that allows for fast changes between the stainless steel bracelet and leather and rubber straps, suitable for all occasions and wardrobes. I wore it with the (absurdly) comfortable rubber strap, and it felt cool and comfortable during a few rounds of go karting and subway commuting in the muggy heat of a New York summer.
At the end of the day, the Overseas World Time is an admirable travel watch. For most (like my colleague), a simpler GMT accomplishes travel watch duties in a simpler, more affordable package. But for watch guys looking for complexity, detailing and bold looks, the Overseas World Time makes sense, not just as a fine piece of horological geekery, but as a reliable globetrotting companion.