Salmon Dial 42040 Vacheron Constantin Overseas
There are few greater value opportunities than the current market for first generation Overseas, pretty much all variants, but salmon dials in particular. A direct descendant of the 222, this was the intermediary step between 222 and the calatrava cross-inspired case that many know today. The first generation is not only more classic in 37mm proportions, but more intricately finished in its three-link bracelet sporting a wealth of brushed-polished contrast. And that’s before we get on to the dial, which is not just a sushi-feast but tritium as well. This ref. 42040 is concretely in our preferred, ‘rare, but few people care’ category.
Time-only, first gen Overseas can be split two ways. There are two case size and two generations of movements. References that end in 0 have the Girard-Perregaux 3100 ébauche that was still COSC certified. The references that end in 2 have a movement VC revised to be slightly more durable but shares the same architecture. References that end in 40 or 42 are this ‘jumbo’ 37mm case, refs that end in 50 or 52 are the midsized 35mm. Within those references, there is a wealth of variation including guilloché dials, three LHD cases, non-luminous iterations, Arabic dials, or rarer dials such as tropical examples or this salmon. That’s not even to mention Geneve vs Genève dials, or sigma, Swiss, and T Swiss signatures. There’s an almost infinite degree of variation to early Overseas, which makes collecting and learning a rewarding challenge.
Most collecting attention has shifted toward the updated case and small productions like the Everest or even rarer 2000V, 80 example 49020/000W-9656 boutique-only Perpetual Chronograph (with a grey dial and yellow hands), 4500V/110A-B563 Zurich Edition of 38, or the 5500V/110A-B433 Latin America Edition of 25 we were lucky enough to have in last year.
That leaves these a relative bargain. A simple white guilloché 42040 just broke to around 10K USD for the first time in awhile recently, which is the value buy of the century. The rarer dials will still command 20-30K. Gold is low production enough to have remained quite valuabe, always near 40K. But just three years ago, prices for all of these were nearly double. It is one of very few categories that feels almost unsustainably undervalued for how objectively well-made and finished these cases and dials are. Look at tritium Royal Oak or Nautilus, even the midsized are more valuable. Perhaps this design is just too polarizing; of all 90s holy trinity cases, the Overseas probably has the most aggressive character. The case has broad shoulders. Its bezel is harsh and serrated. The bracelet taper is minimal. Yet, it’s 7mm thin. To quote Edgar Allan Poe, ‘There is no beauty without some strangeness in its proportions.’
This example has a great overall condition. It came from Japan, where all the best-preserved watches have lived. It’s lightly worn, not polished, and extremely handsome. The handset has two slight fissures, but that just lets you know the tritium is original. It even comes with its full set, from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.