You Can Own a Watch Made Specially for an Explorer

A prototype went up Mt. Everest with Corey Richards. Now Vacheron Constantin put it into production.

overseas chronographcory richardseverest
Vacheron Constantin

Jaded watch guys invariably yearn for the mythical days of yore, back when leading watch companies would outfit intrepid explorers with the latest horological tech. Back then, there were still a few blank spots on the world map, and the romanticism of this era — and its associated wristwear, now grown classic — tends to capture the modern imagination. (Think Rolex and the first ascent of Everest, or the plumbing of the ocean's depths.) Alas, the blank spots on the map have all but been filled in, and for the most part, companies are no longer providing wristwatches for exploratory expeditions, such as they are. After all, the mechanical wristwatch is, itself, largely outdated tech.

However, we would be remiss if we dealt in grand, sweeping generalizations without making note of certain exceptions: Vacheron Constantin, one of the "Big Three" famed Swiss watchmaking houses (along with Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet), developed a special dual-time model within its Overseas Collection and provided the prototype to American adventurer and photographer Cory Richards in 2019 for his attempt to summit Mt. Everest. Though functionally identical to the standard, steel model Overseas Dual Time, this very special watch was produced in lightweight titanium with tantalum reinforcement — a rarity for conservative Vacheron — and outfitted with both a titanium bracelet and a Ventile cotton strap. (It was also fitted with a unique grey-blue dial and oversized markers.)

overseas dual time everest
The Overseas Dual Time "Everest" features a second time zone, an AM/PM indicator and a date function tied to local time.
Vacheron Constantin

The immediate question upon this watch's release in 2019 was: When will a production model be available to the larger watch-buying public? To which the answer at the time was: Probably never. However, all good things come to those who wait — or more, accurately, perhaps, to those who become swept up in a global pandemic and are no longer waiting on anything in particular except for the end of said pandemic — and good news has been delivered by the Watch Gods at long last: Production models have arrived.

"Exploration extracts us from the barrage of daily life. It strips the noise away and reduces us to something more basic." -Cory Richards

I say "models" because this release actually includes two watches: a production run of the Overseas Dual Time Everest model that Richards wore on Everest, as well as a special version of the Overseas Chronograph (called the "Overseas Chronograph Everest") that makes use of similar materials and livery. Each is limited to 150 pieces and features dual titanium-and-steel construction: While the bezel ring is rendered in stainless steel, the case itself, as well as the crown, pushers, pusher guards and bezel are titanium. Both feature cool grey-blue Cordura straps with orange stitching that match the watches' dials (which feature orange accents), as well as grey rubber straps that make use of a quick-change system. (Sorry, but those of you hoping for a fully titanium bracelet are SOL. Try to be happy with what you've got, here.) Let's take a brief look at each watch:

overseas dual time everest chrono
The Overseas Dual Time "Everest"
Vacheron Constantin
overseas dual time everest
The Overseas Chronograph "Everest"
Vacheron Constantin

Overseas Dual Time "Everest"

  • 150-piece limited edition
  • Titanium and steel construction
  • 41mm case
  • Cordura and rubber straps included
  • In-house Vacheron Constantin 5110 DT/2 automatic movement
  • Dual-time zone functionality and AM/PM indicator
  • 4th hand displays home time
  • Pointer date display synchronized with local time
  • Local time adjusted via pusher
  • Sapphire display case back
  • 22K pink gold oscillating weight with engraving of Everest inspired by Cory Richards photo
  • 150m water resistance
  • $31,300 (available via Vacheron Constantin boutiques)

    overseas chronographcory richardseverest
    The Overseas Chronograph "Everest" in action.
    Vacheron Constantin

    Overseas Chronograph "Everest"

    • 150-piece limited edition
    • Titanium and steel construction
    • 42.5mm case
    • Cordura and rubber straps included
    • In-house Vacheron Constantin cal. 5200/2 automatic movement with column wheel
    • Chronograph with 30-minute counter; 12-hour counter; date
    • Sapphire display case back
    • 22K pink gold oscillating weight with engraving of Everest inspired by Cory Richards photo
    • 150m
    • $37,000 (available via Vacheron Constantin boutiques)

      Invariably questions arise regarding the pricing and availability of such watches. (Questions such as: "Why so much f*cking money?") But please, I urge you, relax a moment, here: It was cool enough that Vacheron outfitted a real-life adventuring photographer with a special prototype for an ascent of Mt. Everest in 2021 — I mean, shit, it's cool enough that companies are still even producing mechanical watches at all. And we're not talking about some upstart brand with manufacturing in China (and I mean no offense to such brands — many of them make awesome watches at affordable prices) — we're talking about one of the three top watchmakers on Earth. If you thought they were going to make a production model of the titanium Dual Time prototype, with its extremely complicated in-house movement and gold oscillating weight and titanium case and whatever else the hell it's got going on, and slap a price of $8,000 or even $10,000 on it, well, you haven't been reading enough Gear Patrol. (Hell, the original steel model runs $27,100.)

      overseas dual time prototype cory richards
      Richards’s original Dual Time prototype that accompanied him on Everest. The gentleman who purchased the watch at auction surprised Richards at the Vacheron boutique — it was the first time they had met. The auction’s proceeds went to the Nat’l Geographic Fund.
      Gear Patrol

      "The striving within the human imperfection to become as perfect as possible, and to always reinvent and push the boundaries…today, that’s the exploration that Vacheron Constantin is doing." -Alexander Schmiedt, President of Vacheron Constantin Americas

      But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate these two watches for what they are: Natural outgrowths of a spirit to push the horological and exploratory envelope. And for the record, the original prototype worn by Richards on Everest was auctioned by the brand in 2019 by Phillips — it hammered for $106,250, with all of the proceeds supporting the National Geographic Society. If there's a more appropriate "higher purpose" for such a watch, I can't think what it might be.

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