This unassuming Overseas is 6X rarer than the Everest: 1 of just 25. In fact, it is the rarest production Overseas Chronograph ever made. But you almost certainly will never have heard of it. It was never publicized and it even seems almost no one at Vacheron has heard of it. The New York boutique had nothing on it. VC concierge could only tell it did in fact exist from the reference. It was only Mr. Selmoni, a consummate gentlemen and VC's heritage director, who was able to help shed some light. This is the Latin America 5500V, a watch which hides in plain sight. At a glance, a blue dial Overseas; but in actuality a translucent slate-grey dial with a striking English-green highlight in between the dial and chapter ring.
This category of watch is a favorite of ours, where a deep google will turn up almost nothing and scholarship is nonexistent. Here’s what’s known: it was created in honor of the first watch ever sold in Latin America, in 2016, then 180 years ago. The only examples known so far have come from with papers from Argentina, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands. It is believed these were all originally distributed through Vacheron Argentina and wound up at retailers in some of the more major, and wealthier, cities or tourist destinations. It is still unknown just why an ‘English’ green accent was chosen for Latin America, but dial-side this is a very rare touch of playfulness on an otherwise extremely austere Overseas reference.
In terms of outright rarity in the 3rd generation Overseas, the second closest is the 2000V Ultra-Thin, of which just under 100 were made. The Everest was made in 150 examples of Dual Time and Chronograph. Brown dials weren’t limited, far more exist. This is by some margin the most scarce 3rd generation Overseas Chronograph and almost certainly one of the three rarest modern Overseas (the previous generation had a New York boutique edition Perpetual Calendar Chronograph which was made in comparable numbers in 2011, but good luck finding one).
The underlying 3rd generation Overseas draws upon the 222 as inspiration for its 42.5mm case design and proportions, with a Maltese cross-inspired bracelet. The tolerances are so tight on the bracelet that it feels buttery. The bezel, pushers, crown, and back are all screwdown for a 150 meter resistance. The calibre 5200 is the result of 5 years of development, a 263 component column-wheel chronograph. Moreover, there are twin barrels for a 50 hour reserve. There are many details which I adore, foremost the fact that its column wheel is shaped into a Maltese cross. And that the bracelet is push-button quick-change, with rubber and leather straps included. It really leans into the sporting side more than most, despite the fact that it’s finished to a standard that earned it a Geneva Seal.
More details may come to light through the coming years, but, for now, this is a very subtle and completely unknown Overseas LE. One which no major media outlet has yet covered. Compared to an Everest, it flies totally under the radar. One would have to have an extremely keen eye to clock that the cool slate grey tone is, in fact, not navy (if it looks blue in some shots, it is facing the sky and picking up more of that tone. In person, it’s a very cooled slate tone). The green is quite subtle, definitely bright and present, but not at a glance. The ultimate in stealthy sports steel? Very possibly. The edition of 25 is numbered, visible on caseback, number will be disclosed upon sale.