Around the Ring Road and Back, Off-Planet with the Vacheron Constantin Overseas

Around the Ring Road and Back, Off-Planet with the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time

Adventures with an adventure watch you might not expect.

By Alex Lam

Iceland is a lot like the moon. In fact, NASA trained Astronauts for the Apollo Program in Iceland and plans to run simulations there for their upcoming crewed mission to Mars. Given that the ever-iconic Speedmaster was put through its paces on this damp, mossy island in the North Atlantic, one might believe that it would be the perfect proving ground for a sports watch. We certainly did.

Enter the most recent iteration of Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas Dual Time. Recently updated as part of the brand’s overhaul of the Overseas line, the Dual Time in steel is Vacheron Constantin’s answer to a sports watch that can go anywhere and do anything. As a staple of the Overseas lineup, the new Dual Time benefits significantly from a refined dial layout and innovative tweaks like their quick-change strap system (more on that later). To be frank, when we think of mechanical tool watches there are invariably a few brands that come to mind first. Rolex, Tudor, Omega, IWC, and the like are most likely fairly high up on the list. If you ranked Vacheron Constantin reasonably low on that list, no one would fault you. However, we here at Watchonista like to challenge our perceptions, and so we took the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time on a weeklong adventure around Iceland.

An adventure watch for the modern gentleman

Our adventure begins in New York City, where we first had the chance to put on the Dual Time. The first impression we had was just how striking the blue dial is. It seems today that blue dials are a dime a dozen, but Vacheron really did a great job with this one. The dial is alternately slate blue and a rich navy in the sunlight and very legible in all conditions. The previous generation of the Overseas Dual Time had the local time displayed by the central hour and minute hands while the subdial designates the home time at six o'clock. This was complemented by a calendar, day night indicator and power reserve. An exercise in restraint yet simplified by having a GMT-style hand which displays the second time zone. The power reserve has been removed as well.

Perhaps the most enjoyable feature introduced in the Overseas lineup refresh is Vacheron’s proprietary quick-change system for straps and bracelets. This makes swapping between the bracelet, crocodile strap, and rubber strap a breeze. A feature we found ourselves playing with just because we could. As we prepared to brave the elements in Iceland, we elected to bring the rubber strap and the crocodile strap.

For those familiar with the Overseas line will also know that the case geometry was simplified in this refresh. The result is a clean-looking case profile which measures 41mm. On the larger size for a vintage enthusiast, but a perfectly respectable modern size. Wearing the Overseas Dual Time around Manhattan for a few days before our trip certainly cemented the fact that the watch feels just as much at home under a dress shirt cuff as it does under the elastic cuff of a hoodie.

A land of endless waterfalls

Iceland is home to fewer than 350,000 people. By comparison, Manhattan has about 1.7 million inhabitants, but in terms of landmass, Iceland is approximately the same size as New York state. Our plan was relatively simple. Rent a car and traverse the entire ring road traveling counterclockwise from the capital city of Reykjavik all the while stopping to take in Iceland's natural splendor and sights. Spoiler alert, there is an almost innumerable number of waterfalls.

We would begin in the well-traveled tourist sites of the Golden Circle before proceeding southwest to black beaches and the famous downed DC-3 plane wreck. From there the blue ice fields of Jökulsárlón would be next, and we would sail right up to the glacier field's edge. In northern Iceland lay Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall and the site of the opening scene in Prometheus. On the western edge of the country, we would also see Mt. Kirkjufell otherwise known as the backdrop to Jon Snow's fight against the White Walker army in the most recent season of Game of Thrones. Finally, it would be time to return to Reykjavik and explore the city that is home to more than one-third of Iceland's population.

At home in Reykjavik

What all this means was that the Vacheron Constantin Dual Time would be making its way over rocks, through freezing waterfalls and generally tough terrain. Days began wet and would suddenly become windy and dry. We were going to put this watch to the test.

Unsurprisingly, for the majority of our journey, the Overseas Dual Time lived on the rubber strap. The strap was extremely comfortable, molding well to the wrist without being constricting. Even in pelting rain, the broad markers of the dial and SuperLuminova made the watch easily legible. The rain and cold seemed to have absolutely no bearing on the performance of the watch, and while we were careful, a bump here and there also did nothing to deter the Caliber 5110 DT from ticking on steadily.

Peering into the movement tells a story of fine watchmaking and what Vacheron Constantin is most known for. The full rotor is nicely engraved, and the movement highly decorated to the brand’s exacting standards. The styling of the case, while sporty is not so overtly so that it cannot be dressed up. While the Dual Time is not as svelte as its cousins from Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet (the Nautilus and Royal Oak respectively), it is by no means a large watch. The ease with which one can switch from steel bracelet to rubber strap to crocodile strap is both a great convenience and pleasure.

Towards the end of our trip, upon returning to Reykjavik, we swapped rubber for crocodile as we explored the old city streets of the capital. Here too the watch performed well, adapting to take in cultural sites as opposed to nature. The watch slid nicely under the cuff of a shirt and despite its sportiness did not look a hair out of place in dimly lit dining rooms and bars.

Final Thoughts

Our hypothesis when we decided to take the Vacheron Constantin Dual Time to Iceland was that the watch would live up to being a steel sports watch. In the end, it very much lived up to that description and more. In some ways, this could be described as one of the most versatile watches this author has tested.

As long as one is not bothered by a few scratches here and there, there is no reason why you could not take the Overseas Dual Time on a rugged adventure. In the city, it is also entirely conceivable to wear this watch to the office on a daily basis and out to an elegant dinner. In essence, for anyone who wants fine watchmaking in a watch that can be worn every day, this is a great choice.

At the time of writing, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time is priced at $24,700 in steel. The watch is also available in pink gold or steel with a silver dial.

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