I have probably lost count of the times I’ve read “watch sizes are getting smaller” on forums but I’m not yet convinced that demand outside of the watch hobbyist landscape reflects that view. TW-Steel watches may no longer feature in the minds of the prospective buyer, but the coveted Generation 3 Overseas range starts at 41mm and up, and the 40mm Historiques American 1921 model is still desired more than the mid-size version.
Those who love, or own, the original Vacheron Constantin 222 model or Generation 1 Overseas (37mm for the Gen 1 Overseas) tend to appreciate them because they came in that size at the time they were created. There’s no arguing that in 2020 both of these vintage watches are effortlessly cool, and represent great value when compared to the competition from other brands. However in 2020 you have a choice of either the standard 41mm 4500V Overseas, or the 37mm 2300V, and how would you pick? Let’s dive into the Overseas 2300V and perform some comparisons to the larger model.
WHO IS IT FOR?
The Overseas 2300V was released in 2016 and given that the model range was a mixture of pink dials and diamonds, while the 4500V was beefy case sizes in comparison, it does seem like the model was destined for women. There is a blue dial, non-diamond version; and a silver dial two-tone watch (again, non-diamond) that work nicely as a Unisex model.
If you’re a lady looking for a beautiful sports watch then you can’t go far wrong. There is a current fashion trend for slightly larger women’s watches but the key thing for me is that watches for women tend to “miss out” on some things such as the Geneva Seal, or even a mechanical movement. This model has everything you need, in a sensible size.
When I was first looking at the Overseas line and a bit worried about the size of the 4500V, I decided to go down to the London boutique and organised a trial of the 2300V blue dial model.
The 2300V model comes with a selection of dial colours – rose, blue, brown/bronze and silver. The silver dial is the only dial that has coloured gold indices and hands while the other three models have white gold.
If you really hate date windows then this watch could be for you – gone is the date window of the 4500V and replaced with a somewhat quirky small seconds at 9.
The handset used on this model is very similar, but slightly minaturised, version found on the bigger brother model. It would have been nice to see a rounded/beveled small seconds hand, but the flat finishing matches the style of the seconds hand on the 4500V.
As part of this review I only got hands on with the blue dial variant but it seems that all four dial colours are similar in their design. As the dial size is physically smaller the chapter ring is gone from the larger model and the minutes track has the same finish as the rest of the dial (the minutes track on the larger model is different to the majority of the dial, with the exception of the silver dial variant of the 4500V).
The blue dial variant is different from the 4500V blue model. It didn’t seem as translucent but I actually preferred the finish of the 2300V to the larger model. You mileage may vary so I’d always encourage you to try a model out in person at a boutique.
The hands and indices are coated in superluminova that gives off a fantastically bright blue when fully charged. However, the charge of the lume does not last anywhere near as long as your average modern Rolex does. Then again, this isn’t a dive watch we’re talking about here.
THE CASE AND BRACELET
The case is everything you’d expect of the Overseas line and there is no lack of detail here. What I find most satisfying about this case range is how complex the side profiles seem to be, where they flow in wonderful cambers rather than being simple slab-sides found in cheaper watches. There are wonderfully sharp and polished bevels across the lug sides to the centre of the sides of the watch. The crown is at the traditional 3 o clock position and is of course screw-down; but to my eye I found it somewhat dis-proportionally large for the case in some way. The watch has 150m water resistance which is fantastic for a daily wear watch.
The bracelet tapers in the same way as the larger 4500V model does and features the same hand-finished bevels along the edges and between the links. It feels very high quality in the hand and the brushed finish really has to be seen in person – it has a wonderful texture and gives off a prism/rainbow effect under certain lighting conditions. Another reason why these watches have to be seen in person and on the wrist.
The metal bracelet also has the same excellent quick release system that the 4500V features, along with the manual adjustment in the clasp for extra comfort.
The watch also has the bonus of the leather and rubber straps in the box so you can switch them out at your leisure. With the size of this watch what it is, you could easily use this watch as a dress watch on the included leather strap.
The 5300 movement found in this model is exclusively found in this model line and differs from the 5100 movement in the larger Overseas model. It’s wonderfully aesthetically pleasing and really doesn’t suffer any compromises had you opted for the larger Overseas – other than power reserve of 44 hours (compared to over 60). It features 128 parts, 31 jewels, runs at 4Hz and of course features the Hallmark of Geneva. The 22K gold winding mass is wonderfully finished and fills up the caseback nicely.
You’ll have to excuse the lack of professional level photography as these snaps were taken on a smartphone in the boutique. I purposefully wore my vintage 35mm Longines Conquest from HudsonTime that day so that I wouldn’t suffer any “shock” of moving from something larger like an Omega Speedmaster to a smaller watch, and ruling it out instantly. I was happy to say that I was really pleased with how this watch wears.
Like the 4500V, this really could be your only watch and for a gentleman the smaller size does lend itself better to a dress watch.
If you can forgive the lower power reserve (especially as the watch is automatic) it still has everything you need that you won’t lose from the larger model – unique looks, Geneva Seal finish on the case and movement, and of course the bracelet/strap quick release system. This watch might even suit you better if you prefer sans date, or if you love two-tone watches.
Ultimately I too fell for the larger sized model, and really this was only for two reasons. The first was the lack of a silver dial that I could only find in the larger size (More on this here). The second reason though was that I left the boutique that the 2300V was the watch for me – only to be told unanimously by others afterwards that it looked too small when I showed them the photographs.
Maybe this was the wrong decision for me, or maybe it wasn’t – but rest assured that if you go for this watch then you’ll be picking up something exceptional. In my eyes it looks a lot less dainty than the original Overseas 37mm, ticks all the boxes that you’d expect from a Vacheron Constantin, and finally is going to be something pretty rare to own. Fashion trends may change over time, but quality does not.
Case/bracelet material: Stainless Steel (Rubber and Alligator leather straps included)
Buckle: Double trigger deployant on bracelet, separate deployant clasp supplied for rubber and leather straps)
Case thickness: 11.13mm
Caseback: Transparent Sapphire
Water Resistance: 150m
Movement: In-House 5300 calibre, 128 parts, automatic, 44 hour power reserve, 4Hz, 31 jewels, 22.6mm size
Price (May 2020): £17,700 Inc taxes
More on www.vacheron-constantin.com