Vacheron Constantin's Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is an aristocrat among aristocrats. The first version of the fake watch came out in 2016, in 18k white gold; this was the year that Vacheron introduced an updated new Overseas collection, with more refined designs overall, and with, for the first time, an Overseas that was a pure perpetual calendar. It was a collection that also included a new Overseas Ultra-Thin (which I felt then, and still feel, is one of the most beautiful contemporary Vacheron wristwatches) and both replica watches have the same basic movement, which is the Vacheron caliber 1120.
This is probably one of the two or three most well known movements of the twentieth century and for fans of ultra-thin watchmaking, certainly one of the two or three most important. The caliber 1120 (also known as the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 920, the Patek Philippe 28-255, and the Audemars Piguet 2120) debuted in 1967, at which time it was the flattest full-rotor automatic winding movement ever made. Amazingly, this record stands unbroken today (thinner automatic movements exist, but not full rotor). If you want a genuinely horologically meaningful basis for a really elegant automatic perpetual calendar, this is about as good as it gets.
There are quite a few ways to implement a perpetual calendar mechanically, of course ?some of the major innovations in perpetual calendars in the last fifty or so years have given https://www.replicacopys.com/blog/, increasingly, perpetual calendar replica watches that are as close to foolproof as a perpetual calendar is ever going to get. Probably the most severely reductive, mechanically modern perpetual calendar is from ochs und junior, which is pretty much completely diametrically opposed to the Vacheron Overseas Perpetual Calendar in both design and philosophy ?the perpetual calendar mechanism in the ochs und junior uses just nine additional parts.
In the latter case, you have a great deal of elegance from an engineering standpoint ?after all, the fewer parts there are, the less there is to go wrong, and there is real beauty and intellectual satisfaction in this kind of simplicity. However, in mechanical watchmaking, there are a plethora of types of elegance, each with its own satisfactions, and a classically implemented perpetual calendar built on the 1120 ?the caliber 1120 QP/1 ?is a direct connection to a tradition of perpetual calendar construction that's several centuries old. Caliber 1120 QP/1 uses as traditional a perpetual calendar plate as you can find in a modern wristwatch, with a program wheel, moonphase, and all the demanding-to-make steel cams and jumpers that make this sort of perpetual calendar such a rich store of watchmaking techniques and history.
Visible through the caseback, the solid gold rotor and bridges of the caliber 1120 QP/1
The cadrature (under the dial work) with the 4 year program wheel at 12:00. At the left is the 7 pointed star wheel for the day of the week; right, the date wheel.
Alas, the perpetual calendar mechanism is hidden under the dial (as is the case with all traditional perpetual calendar complications of this type) but I think a big part of the appeal of this type of perpetual calendar mechanism is that you see all the magic, but none of the backstage business necessary to make it happen.
One of the many variations in perpetual calendar design can be found in the indications for the month and for the Leap Year cycle. The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin uses a single hand for both, which makes one full revolution every four years, and it's a quite neat solution mechanically because you need only to put a hand on the program wheel ?which also turns once every four years ?and hey presto, an integrated month and Leap Year indicator.ADVERTISEMENT
The challenge, of course, is maintaining legibility. Perpetual calendars with month windows are an obvious and very readable way to handle getting that information across, although with the addition of some complexity into the perpetual calendar mechanism. There are pointer-type month indications, but these generally just show 12 months, with a separate hand for the Leap Year cycle. With 12 months in the month sub-dial, the month hand turns through a luxurious 30 degrees every time the month changes. With 48 months, that drops to 7.5 degrees and cramming all 48 month names into a relatively small circle would mean making the sub-dial essentially unreadable.
The solution for the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is to use letters for only every third month. The months that don't get letters, are indicated by dial markers, and the Leap Year is shown by quartering the subdial at the Leap Year. Although it's still not the acme of instant readability, it works surprisingly well (and helps keep thickness down, as you don't need additional gearing to step up the rotation of the month hand).
Although it's not one of the modern era's idiot-proof perpetuals (or maybe one should say "idiot-resistant" ?the mechanism has never been made that can elude destruction at the hands of the truly idiotic) setting up the Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Thin is straightforward. Setting the day of the week, date, and month is via pushers recessed into the case, which index the wheels of the respective indications; the moonphase has its own separate corrector, which can be advanced without affecting any of the other indications. While systems have been invented in recent years that allow all indications to be set from the crown, or which improve on the traditional corrector system by introducing correctors that require no stylus, it's not especially an inconvenience to use the correctors, especially as you won't have to use them very often (which, after all, is the point of a perpetual calendar).
And there is something undeniably satisfying about doing things the old-fashioned way ?after all, there's more to life than convenience.
Caliber 1120 QP/1, based on the caliber 1120 ?a record setter in 1967 and still the reigning champ of full rotor ultra-thin movements today.
The moonphase is not essential for the display of calendar information per se, but it is a wonderful and always lyrical addition to the perpetual calendar which, after all, is a kind of astronomical complication itself (insofar as it encodes the mismatch between the calendar, and the Earth's actual orbit around the Sun). I've always enjoyed moonphases that have moon-faces, but the smooth moon used by Vacheron does add a certain serenity to what might have been a too-busy dial. The moonphase disk is lightly textured, and decorated with engraved constellations and hand-painted stars.ADVERTISEMENT
The Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, like all replica watches in the new Overseas collection (well, it's been two years, but given Vacheron's longevity I think "new" is still a reasonable characterization) uses a quick-change strap system, which is simple, practical, and secure. I wore the Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin on a deep blue, textured rubber strap with a gold folding buckle, and found it a very comfortable fit. For such an aristocratic implementation of such a steeped-in-history complication, the Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Thin succeeds surprisingly well at being a highly user-friendly everyday watch.
I found this, overall, an extremely satisfying fake watch to wear. It's a very contemporary design in some respects ?the rubber strap certainly puts it squarely in modern fake watch territory, as does the quick-change strap design, and the luminous hands and indexes (which are, let's face it, a darned nice thing to have on a daily wear watch). But it's also a fake watch with deep connections to a very venerable technique for perpetual calendar construction, and to the kinds of movement finishing that travel along with it. That the perpetual calendar mechanism is concealed under the dial is part of the attraction; that it's a completely traditional implementation is what makes it so.
On a personal level, this is my favorite implementation of the Overseas design, I think since the family was first introduced (in 1996, though in a sense, the roots of the Overseas collection go all the way back to 1977, when the 222 was introduced). They make so much sense as ultra-thin replica watches ?the slim dimensions tame the angularity of the bezel (which in previous versions of the Overseas could seem a little aggressive) and the fact that such a delightful movement powers the Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual makes it, if you like this sort of thing at all, basically irresistible.
At $74,500, it is certainly not the cheapest perpetual calendar on the market, but this sort of excellence has never been, and will never be, inexpensive. For fake watch enthusiasts, as for enthusiasts of anything where there are dramatic differences between the high and low end, one reaches a point where appreciation is not necessarily about ownership, and the fact that this kind of watchmaking survived the Quartz Crisis, and is still going on today, is something we can all feel good about.
Available in mid-March at Vacheron boutiques. For more info on the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual in rose gold, visit Vacheron-Constantin.com.Vacheron-constantin