Vacheron Constantin celebrates the spirit of travel with the third — and arguably most seductive — rendition of its Overseas collection yet.

The luxury industry is almost as fickle as the weather, and predicting its course is just as vexing. One thing’s for certain, however: Millennials — those born between the 1980s and 2000s — are set to become a pervasive force in the next few years.

A February 2015 CNBC report, quoting a study by Berglass + Associates, anticipates that this generation will outspend baby boomers by 2017. Business intelligence blog MarketResearch. com forecasts that their influence will be felt from 2020, when the eldest millennials will reach their peak earning — and consequently, spending — power.

What does this have to do with Vacheron Constantin? Plenty. The firm may be one of the industry’s oldest — it celebrated its 260th anniversary just last year — but this has not stopped it from actively courting a younger audience. In 2015, it started its own Instagram account. At this year’s SIHH, it launched the third edition of the sporty-elegant Overseas collection, featuring five models in 12 references: Chronograph, Overseas, Small Model, Ultra-Thin and Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar.

To help spread the Overseas gospel, the watchmaker turned to social media influencers in each of its markets to craft targeted campaigns under the slogan “A Unique Perspective on The World”.

The Overseas line itself is 20 years old. First unveiled in 1996, it was revamped in 2004. Vacheron Constantin is banking on the collection’s robustness and versatility to appeal to a youthful, active demographic. Think 20-something Silicon Valley technopreneurs who spend their workweeks developing blockbuster apps, and their weekends caving or snowboarding.

Meanwhile, the typical customer for the firm’s other collections — such as the Malte, Patrimony and Traditionelle — is more likely to be a senior captain of industry who spends his after-hours at an exclusive social club.

“The main evolution is that we have a line with completely new movements: three new inhouse movements and two ultra- thin movements based on existing movements. The three new movements are quite large, and were developed to fit sporty watches,” explains Christian Selmoni, the brand’s artistic director, at an interview in Geneva.

In previous incarnations, the Overseas watches were equipped with external calibres. The old Overseas Chronograph, for example, was fitted with Calibre 1137, a mechanism based on the Frédéric Piguet Calibre 1185. The latter is used in older versions of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Chronographs and some Blancpain chronographs.

The new Overseas Chronograph now sports Calibre 5200, a column-wheel engine with 50- hour power reserve — enough juice to keep the watch running while the technopreneur is hitting the slopes on the weekend. The Overseas is powered by Calibre 5100, and displays only the absolute essentials: time and date.

With a diamond-encrusted bezel and automatic Calibre 5300, the Small Model (diameter: 37mm) targets the new breed of young, empowered female businesswomen, the likes of whom are portrayed by The Intern’s Jules Ostin. The legendary Calibre 1120 — a super skinny (2.45mm) movement developed in the 1960s — equips the Overseas Ultra-Thin, a purist timepiece with just hours and minutes indication. In the Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar, a calendar module is added to Calibre 1120 to become Calibre 1120 QP.

A sixth model joined the lineup in June: the Overseas World Time, equipped with Calibre 2460WT, an in-house movement that was first shown in 2011. It is much beloved by jetsetters mainly because it is one of the few world timers to feature 37 time zones, including those that deviate from standard time zones by 15 or 30 minutes.

As for why the brand chose to launch the watch separately, Selmoni explains: “We had already a lot to communicate on launched models — from time-only models up to high complications, so we decided to keep the World Time, a perfect complication for this collection anchored in the spirit of travelling, for the summer.”

The dial sports an elegant world map in relief, along with a translucent disc that bears the city names. Another sapphire disc overlays this — its smoky graduations indicating day and night. Three colours are available: silver (a traditional choice), blue (an increasingly popular choice among watchmakers) and, rather unusually, brown. “Brown is an interesting and original match with steel,” explains Selmoni. “And an alternative to the vibrant blue and traditional silvered finishing that we offer. Our objective was to match as much as possible the various clients’ tastes.”

Developing the in-house calibres — which are all Geneva- Hallmark-certified — gave the firm a perfect excuse to fit the watches with sapphire case backs, a first for the Overseas collection. Anti-magnetism, a key feature of earlier Overseas collections, is maintained through the use of a soft iron ring around the movement.

“As we have a see-through case back, we lose a bit of protection, but we are still within the criteria to be certified as an anti-magnetic watch,” says Selmoni candidly. According to the international ISO 764 or its equivalent German and Swiss norms — the DIN 8309 and NIHS 90-10, respectively — a watch must resist fields of at least 4,800 A/m (amperes per metre) and keep its accuracy to +/- 30 seconds per day to be classified as anti-magnetic.

Given the number of electronic devices that we — and especially millennials — rely on these days, an anti-magnetic rating is as useful as they come. The sapphire case backs also gave Vacheron Constantin the opportunity to design a new rotor: a 22-carat gold oscillating weight embellished with a wind rose, an appropriate enough motif for a traveller’s watch.

Another key development for the Overseas line is the fast-changing strap system on all the steel models, a first for Vacheron Constantin. With a simple push, wearers can detach the metal bracelet from the lugs and swap it with a leather or rubber strap (provided with each watch), fastening it with a hooking action. No tools are needed. The folding buckles are removable as well.

A fast-changing strap system might seem like a minor detail, but it does reduce the hassle, and also acknowledges the trend of strap-swapping, popular among 20- and 30-somethings.

On Vacheron Constantin’s metal bracelets, wearers can also adjust the length of the bracelet by up to 4mm thanks to a new easyto- use system. On either side of the folding buckle, you simply pull out the adjacent link to extend it, and push to retract it.

This is handy for travellers journeying from warm to cool climes (say, Southern California to Aspen, Colorado) or vice versa, whose wrists might expand or contract accordingly. What with the holiday and peak travel season coming up, the collection makes for a very compelling proposition.

Besides chronicling developments in the luxury watch industry, Aaron De Silva also runs The Time Traveller SG on Instagram (@thetimetravellersg) and Facebook (

This article appeared in the Options of Issue 750 (Oct 17) of The Edge Singapore.