211. NIKOLA TESLA: Visions of the future

The ONE secret that Nikola Tesla wrested from nature on that fateful day in a Budapest park was the design for his most famous and important invention: the Alternating Current Induction Motor. Before Tesla’s breakthrough, all electricity and motors used a direct current system, like the Gramme dynamo Professor Poeschl was demonstrating at Tesla’s Polytechnic School in Graz. Direct current motors were prone to wear and tear and sparking due to the number of moving parts brushing up against each other. Much to the disgust of his Professor, Tesla thought he could do away with the inefficiencies and sparking (in particular caused by a part known as a commutator). The genius of Tesla’s AC motor was it’s simplicity. There was no need for a commutator because the rotor moved due to a rotating electric field. This meant that the motor was more efficient, reliable, quieter and cheaper. In the ‘War of the Currents’ between Thomas Edison’s DC power and the AC system, Tesla’s alternating current prevailed and today is the basis of all modern power generation and distribution. Suck it, Professor Poeschl.

Tesla’s creative process was quite different to other engineers and scientists. He didn’t write things down, sketch out ideas or refine on the page. Instead he relied solely on visualisation – creating, developing, fixing and testing all his inventions completely in his mind. In my Einstein comic, I covered Albert’s use of thought experiments to generate the initial spark of an idea. But once he got that first inspiration, Einstein still had to figure out all the complex physics and equations down on paper. Tesla didn’t waste his time like that:

“My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop. I even note if it is out of balance. There is no difference whatever, the results are the same. In this way I am able to rapidly develop and perfect a conception without touching anything. When I have gone so far as to embody in the invention every possible improvement I can think of and see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form this final product of my brain. Invariably my device works as I conceived that it should, and the experiment comes out exactly as I planned it. In twenty years there has not been a single exception.”

For his induction motor, after Tesla’s epiphany in the park, he kept playing around with different configurations of the design in his head:

“For a while I gave myself up entirely to the intense enjoyment of picturing machines and devising new forms. It was a mental state of happiness about as complete as I have ever known in life. Ideas came in an uninterrupted stream and the only difficulty I had was to hold them fast. The pieces of apparatus I conceived were to me absolutely real and tangible in every detail, even to the minute marks and signs of wear. I delighted in imagining the motors constantly running, for in this way they presented to mind’s eye a more fascinating sight. When natural inclination develops into a passionate desire, one advances towards his goal in seven-league boots.”

Yes, we’re dealing with a super genius here, so granted, his method might be out of reach for mere mortals like the rest of us. I’m sure Tesla’s photographic memory helped a bit too. I mean c’mon, it’s not fair that someone can recite freakin’ Goethe while creating one of the most important inventions in history.

Albert Einstein Life is a Mystery
Marie Curie Our Happy Place
Phil Plait Welcome to Science

– The quotes used in the comic and above are from “My Inventions”, a short autobiography by Tesla originally published in Electrical Experimenter magazine in 1919. You can read it online for free.
– Further reading: How did Nikola Tesla change the way we use energy? (How Stuff Works) Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived (The Oatmeal)

Source: http://zenpencils.com

Macondo Chocolate’s Sense of Place

Macondo Chocolate is a single origin chocolate line handmade by Kernow Chocolate Company in the UK. According to Kernow’s website, the flavor of cacao beans, like that of coffee beans and wine grapes, is affected by where the beans are grown, the regional temperature, annual rainfall, and nutrients in the soil. It’s said that chocolate connoisseurs are familiar with the appellations of cacao beans and have their preferences. Hence, Macondo Chocolate set out to appeal to their discerning taste by sourcing its cacao beans from different corners of the world, and processing each batch separately to maintain the distinct and pure flavor of their country of origin.

To communicate what makes the Macondo brand special, illustrator/type designer Stephen Smith of Neasden Control Centre in London was commissioned to create product packaging that conveyed the exclusive character of each country of origin – namely, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Arriba, and Cameroon. Smith unified the brand packaging through consistent placement of graphic elements, and played up each product’s individual flavor differences through artwork that explodes with vibrant colors and style. The name “Macondo” is subtly presented in a small box, while large quirky hand-lettered text broadcast where the beans were grown and what makes each product in the line distinct from the others.

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Rosanne Cash on How Science Saved Her Life, the Source of Every Artist’s Power, and Her Beautiful Reading of Adrienne Rich’s Tribute to Marie Curie

“All creative people feel that the source of their creativity comes from the same room as their deepest pain.”

Most know Marie Curie (November 7, 1867–July 4, 1934) as a trailblazing scientist — a pioneer of radioactivity, the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, and to this day the only person to win two Nobels in two different sciences, chemistry and physics. But unbeknownst to most, she was also a woman of tremendous humanitarian heroism and courage: When WWI swept Europe, Curie, a vehement pacifist, invented and operated mobile X-ray units known as “Little Curies” — ambulances which she herself drove, treating an estimated one million wounded soldiers and civilians, using the technology her own discoveries had made possible to save innumerable lives.

It fell on another extraordinary woman, the great poet and feminist Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929–March 27, 2012), to eulogize Curie exactly forty years after the trailblazing scientist’s death in the 1974 poem “Power,” which opens Rich’s 1977 masterwork The Dream of a Common Language (public library).

Another forty years later, another remarkable woman animated this double legacy of greatness — multiple Grammy winner Rosanne Cash, a musician of enormous poetic potency, a beautiful memoirist, and one of very few women inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Cash brought Rich’s masterpiece to life at The Universe in Verse — the celebration of science through poetry, which gave us Neil Gaiman’s feminist poem about science, Sarah Jones’s chorus-of-humanity tribute to Jane Goodall, and astrophysicist Janna Levin’s sublime performance of Adrienne Rich’s tribute to women in astronomy.

Prefacing her reading, Cash offered the greatest testimonial to the power of science there is — one attested to with her very life, which science saved after pseudo-science and today’s fossils of superstition imperiled it — and reflected on how Rich’s poem, while celebrating a scientist, also speaks to the deepest source of every artist’s power.

Persist and verify… The power that we abdicate to others out of our insecurity — to others who insult us with their faux-intuition or their authoritarian smugness — that comes back to hurt us so deeply… But the power we wrest from our own certitude — that saves us.

And here is the isolated poem:


Living    in the earth-deposits    of our history

Today a backhoe divulged    out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle    amber    perfect    a hundred-year-old
cure for fever    or melancholy    a tonic
for living on this earth    in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered    from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years    by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin    of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold    a test-tube or a pencil

She died    a famous woman    denying
her wounds
her wounds    came    from the same source as her power

Rich was the only poet with two poems represented in The Universe in Verse. Devour the other one — her tribute to Caroline Herschel, the first professional woman astronomer — here, then revisit Rich herself reading her increasingly timely poem “What Kind of Times Are These?”

For other enchanting readings of beloved poets’ work, hear Amanda Palmer reading E.E. Cummings, Cynthia Nixon reading Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Boorstein reading Pablo Neruda, Jon Kabat-Zinn reading Derek Walcott, Orson Welles reading Walt Whitman, and Amanda Palmer reading Wisława Szymborska.

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Into the Forest

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National park Sächsische Schweiz, Germany.

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IK’s solution for recording everything: audio, video, iOS, Android

Cobbling together a rig for documenting your work as a musician/DJ/producer/vocalist is, let’s face it, kind of a nightmare. Sharing your work could be a great pleasure – but it often feels like an extra job you have to work.

The iPhone (or more generally smartphone) has been kind of a mixed blessing. The software/sensor combination, while powerful and always in your pocket, are great. But nothing else about a phone is well suited to shooting anything above basic quality stuff – because you’ve got to hold the thing steady and capture audio effectively (sometimes multiple streams of audio).

So, a lot of musicians I find are turning to the GoPro. But it’s only natural that we’d see some more artist-friendly options (since those needs aren’t quite the same as, like, people snowboarding).

Zoom have some offerings that look appealing in the standalone/dedicated category – basically, coupling good internal mics and mic attachments with their own cameras.

If you want to use your phone, though, the solutions from IK Multimedia keep getting more complete.

First, there’s the app – updated this week. iRig Recorder 3 is available for both iOS and Android (meaning you can use some of these great new Android phone cameras, like Google Pixel, and you aren’t limited to Apple).

The banner feature is that you add video features to audio. That’s essential, as sound is sort of a second-class citizen on the dominant social networks – and you can’t get people’s attention with it if their device’s sound is muted. (You need moving pictures to snag their eyes, so you can presumably convince them to unmute.)

But there are other serious features here, too – including support for connecting the app to other apps, if you’re invested in the iOS app ecosystem for production. The redesigned interface now includes:


New audio effects: doubling the previous version, you now get a pretty serious arsenal of effects. You can change speed and pitch (useful for practice and transcription), add compression and EQ (essential), and even do creative stuff like morph or add reverb, chorus, and delay. This coming from IK, the stuff is likely to sound good.

Text and photo markers for precise editing. Pairs well with added video support, as does:

Export audio and video as separate files.

Now integrates with your (iOS) studio. For those who want to integrate with a workflow with other apps, there’s Inter-App Audio and Audiobus compatibility.

Export / share to anywhere. (iOS) Expanded in this version, now includes Airdrop, Messages, SoundCloud, Facebook, WhatsApp, DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, E-mail, Wi-Fi, FTP, iTunes File Sharing. Not on Android, but then file management is more direct on Android so it’s less important.


This is worth some separate look, but then all this is designed to integrate with IK’s line of audio accessories. Those are all illustrated on the product site below. This includes some handy accessories for holding your device steady, recording from a mic, connecting an instrument, or recording line signal.


I’ve got some gear from IK; I’ll try to put this together and do a proper test – which, truly, will be a real world one. That iRIG Duo is especially handy:

The post IK’s solution for recording everything: audio, video, iOS, Android appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Source: http://cdm.link

Giveaway {SnapShop + My Fair Ellie}

Giveaway {SnapShop + My Fair Ellie}

Update: sorry for the delay in getting this post live! I was stuck on a 14 hour flight and couldn’t fix the publishing issue!!


It is day 2 of giveaways in honor of Mother’s Day! Be sure to enter the Mpix giveaway from yesterday. Today I am partnering with the cutest shop for little ones – My Fair Ellie. It makes me wish my girls would still wear cute clips and headbands…I mean that donut one! Are you kidding me?!


My Fair Ellie is a shop full of adorable little accessories for all the girls in your life. Each bow is handmade by a midwest mom hustlin’ during those moments of peace and quiet!

Find My Fair Ellie here: Etsy | Facebook | Instagram


The SnapShop subscription site includes two core course: SnapShop DSLR and SnapShop Phone and new lessons added monthly. As a subscriber you have access to all the content any time you want for as long as you keep your membership. Registration includes access to all SnapShop content (used by over 3000 students since 2009), including: 

  • SnapShop DSLR Course (a $200 value)
  • SnapShop Phone Course (a $50 value)
  • Interviews & tips with leading photographers & bloggers
  • Course discussions
  • Additional lessons posted monthly by Ashley Ann and guests!

To see a listing of all the lessons and courses included and a FAQ page answering common questions visit the SnapShop website.

For more on SnapShops: Website | Instagram, use the code UTS for $10 off your registration.


The Details:

Prize: 1 year SnapShop membership +  My Fair Ellie credit

1 winner, chosen at random

Giveaway ends Sunday, May 7th 9:00pm US Central

To enter: leave a comment here telling me your favorite My Fair Ellie product

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Reversing the Grid [EPISODE]

When Thomas Edison built his first electric power stations, there were no electric meters in people’s homes. Lacking a better method, he started billing people a monthly fee based on how many light bulbs they had. It wasn’t a very precise system.

Restored Westinghouse OB electric meter (circa 1920) by John Lester (CC BY 2.0)

Electric meters (much like the ones we still have today) were soon developed to replace the bulb-counting system. As electricity comes into houses, a little dial turns forward to show how much is used. And while the original designers never considered this possibility, it turns out that the little dial turns backward when electricity leaves a home.

For most people, electricity only flows one way (into the home), but there are exceptions — people who use solar panels, for instance. In those cases, excess electricity created by the solar cells travels back out into the grid to be distributed elsewhere. And in some states, people can can be paid for this excess electricity. The practice is called “net metering” (referring to the total or “net” amount of energy used) and while it started off as a relatively non-controversial practice, there are now big political battles being fought over it.

In this featured episode of Outside/In, Sam Evans-Brown of New Hampshire Public Radio and his colleagues Maureen McMurry and Taylor Quimby explore the origins and evolution of this practice, which all began quite accidentally with a single individual: Steven Strong.

The Accidental History of Solar Power

In the mid-1970s, Steven Strong was hired to put a bunch of solar thermal panels (used only to heat water) on an apartment building in New England. While he was at it, he also added a few solar photovoltaic panels to the roof — these are the kind that create electricity and at the time, they were a brand new technology.

Early photo of the first residential building with a utility-interactive solar electric system

They were so new in fact, that when Strong installed them, he had to figure out how to wire them up — what to with the excess energy that the panels created when the sun was out, but the building wasn’t using any energy. Strong decided he could send the excess electricity back out into the grid, and wire it so that the building’s electric meter would run backward as the electricity left the building.

At the end of the month, the building owners would pay based on what the meter reader found on the dial, so if the building had used 60 kilowatt hours of electricity, but created 40, the meter would read 20, and they would only pay for 20.

Strong didn’t ask permission to wire up his solar panels this way, he just did it, and this is how the practice of net metering was born.

Electrical power junction boxes and meters outside a strip mall by David R. Tribble (CC BY-SA)

In effect Strong also decided what rate people would be credited for the excess power they produced with solar panels. By making the meters roll backward as electricity left the building Strong decided that the electrons his solar panels were producing were of equal value to the ones coming in.

In the decades following Strong’s first experiment with net metering, legislation was written in several states that put his idea into law: the energy leaving a home from solar was worth the same amount as the energy coming in. In other words, the electricity produced by solar panels was worth a retail rate, which was a higher rate than utilities companies paid when they bought electricity from large power plants.

And at the time, utility companies did not put up a fight about paying their solar customers this higher retail rate. Solar panels were expensive to install, and they never imagined they’d become accessible to enough people to constitute a threat.

Steven Bohn, an engineer at SunEdison overseeing a testing facility at SolarTAC in Aurora, CO

But then, in the early 2000s, installing solar panels began to get much cheaper. Today, the price of solar panels has dropped so much that they are no longer out of reach for the average home owner. As more and more people put solar panels on their homes and are paid a retail rate by the utility company for the energy they produce, the utilities have become increasingly uncomfortable with the even exchange they’ve been giving people with solar. They believe these solar producers should be paid a lower (wholesale) rate for the energy they produce.

Huge political battles are now being fought all over the U.S. about what rate people with solar panels should be paid for the electricity they produce, and engineers and economists are starting to look at completely different solutions – like redesigning the electric meter to better reflect the true economic value of electrons at a given moment.

Installing a new smart meter, image by Portland General Electric (CC BY-ND 2.0)



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Affinity: Compelling Studio Portraits of Animals Photographed Against a Stark Black Backdrop by Brad Wilson

All photos © Brad Wilson

From lumbering African elephants to diminutive cockatoos, fine art photographer Brad Wilson appears to look into the soul of unusual animals from the far reaches of the planet, isolating each bird, mammal, or reptile against a deep black backdrop. The images are part of the Santa Fe-based photographer’s ongoing Affinity series that explores human’s relationship with animals, both positive and negative, while highlighting the fragility of each subject with the aid of soft studio lighting. From his artist statement:

In the midst of our modern human civilization with all its technological complexities, animals still remain stark symbols of a simpler life and a wilderness lost. Perhaps these images can stand as a testament to this other fading world, and remind us, despite the pronounced feeling of isolation that too often characterizes our contemporary existence, that we are not alone, we are not separate – we are part of a beautifully rich and interconnected diversity of life.

Wilson is represented by PhotoEye Gallery, and you can see more of his work on Instagram and in the 2014 book Wild Life. (via Colossal Submissions)

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A new literary portrait of Helen Garner leaves you wanting to know more

Helen Garner: her work frequently polarises readers. Nicholas Purcell

How remarkable that, after some 40 years of books and essays, stories, articles and movies, there have been so few major publications on the life and works of Helen Garner. The National Library of Australia catalogue lists discussion notes; a study (in Mandarin) by Zhu Xiaoying; and Kerryn Goldsworthy’s excellent 1996 monograph. Bernadette Brennan’s A Writing Life goes a considerable way to filling out this slender collection.

Text Publishing

Brennan offers a detailed account of Garner’s writing life, tracing the influences and obstacles; psychological and emotional affordances and constraints; her research and craft; and the critical and popular reception of her books. This is a valuable contribution about a major contemporary Australian writer who has delighted, infuriated, confused, charmed and frustrated readers, and whose experimental practice has galvanised ways of writing and thinking about writing.

I arrived in Australia late in 1990 and, enrolling in a local university to study Australian culture, found myself in the unfamiliar waters of Australian fiction. The views offered by the lecturers and tutors on Australian writing, and its contexts, meanings and values, were fairly uniform until we reached Monkey Grip (1977). Then emotions were heightened, and attitudes hardened along gender lines.

The (male) professors generally derided the novel as “self-pitying”, as “women’s writing about trivialities”; the (women) tutors discussed the freshness of the perspectives of a time, place and pattern of life familiar to many young Australians.

Like the tutors, I fell in love with the book, identified strongly with it, and fiercely defended it. So, a little over a decade later when I was teaching creative writing, I set The First Stone (1995) for a class on contemporary genres. As with Monkey Grip, the readers were divided, but this time along generational lines. The older students — both men and women —generally found it incisive, courageous and honest. The younger students generally found it self-obsessed, and oblivious to structural and systemic inequities.

Bernadette Brennan.
Murray Harris

I recount these two anecdotes because they seem to me emblematic of Garner’s long writing career: one that slips and slides between genres and forms; one that frequently polarises readers. It is difficult to be ho-hum about Garner’s writing; though at times I have been repulsed by the narrative voice or perspective, I keep returning to her, buying each new book, expecting to be moved either to disappointment or delight.

Brennan is clearly also an eager follower, but unlike me she has closely investigated the contexts of Garner’s practice and tracks her career in this elegantly written account. Based on sound scholarship, the book nonetheless avoids the arcanity of critical literary analysis. The tone remains warm and admiring, and the narrative is highly accessible.

This is no easy task: biography is a difficult form, and there are many cases of offended subjects causing trouble for their biographer. Brennan, I suspect, need have little fear of this: Garner provided access to her private papers, and also shared “two years of conversations” with her biographer. What a privilege; not least because it must have helped Brennan to make sense of the “I” that weaves through Garner’s publications.

Of course the “I” is always a problem: though all social beings necessarily “prepare a face to meet the faces that they meet”, a writer of prose probably prepares more faces than average, because they construct and inhabit both narrators and characters in their works. It can therefore be difficult to determine where the author’s living being ends, and the narrator’s or character’s paper being begins.

For Brennan, the “I” is fictional, but this is a little difficult to accept given how consistent that “I” is in Garner’s fiction and nonfiction; and Garner’s own commentary suggests that it is she herself, filtered through her diary entries and other notes, who is represented.

This, for me, constitutes an absence in an otherwise excellent book: why not take on more directly the issue of a writer who insists on telling her readers what she is thinking? After all, writers need not be explicit: like the old saw goes, “show, don’t tell”. We have language and literary techniques to convey our perspectives and obsessions, and to ensure readers hear our voice, and see things — to quote another difficult and extraordinary writer, Joan Didion — from our point of view.

Garner’s decision to place herself at the centre of the story can also become a distraction from the story itself, and can leave the writer sounding didactic. Novelist Marian Halligan writes about The First Stone,

The book is not a piece of journalism, it’s a novel whose main character is Garner, acting out the role of journalist.

Good reads

Does it matter if a work is fiction cast as journalism? For Halligan, yes, because Garner “is a superb writer and story teller, so the book has a lot of power”. “A lot of power” matters in questions of literary representation, particularly if a work is marketed as nonfiction, which presents as having the authority of actuality. If such a work is more truly fiction, or essay, and if it is also superbly written, it can persuade readers that the author’s personal sociopolitical views are a kind of “truth”, which can leave them feeling either convinced or betrayed.

A second aspect of Garner’s extraordinary career that I would have liked to see developed is the nature of her relationships with others, and her ethical writing practices.

Brennan does not hesitate to describe the sometimes startling cruelty with which Garner treats those close to her: her irritation and impatience with her dying friend in The Spare Room; her remarkably ungenerous characterisation of the women students in The First Stone; her appropriation of the lives of others, such as using her friend Axel Clark’s surgery for brain tumours to generate the story Recording Angel, which was included in Cosmo Cosmolino.

Text Publishing

Yes, we all know Faulkner’s perspective that “the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies”, but is it? And if it is, what are the ethical principles at stake in consuming old ladies for the sake of another Ode?

I can’t help trying to fill in these gaps in the portrait, particularly because Brennan also describes (and many people in the writing community have experienced) Garner’s generosity and compassion. No doubt to some extent, the hard-edged Garner is so visible first, because she puts herself in the work, and next because she seems not to have the sort of filter many of us operate – the one that keeps our more troubling or savage thoughts private.

Garner lays herself bare in what is often a deeply troubling way, and it fascinates me that a writer should expose themselves thus to a reader’s potentially cold and unforgiving eye.

I wish Brennan had found herself able to dig a little more deeply into these tricky and even unsavoury aspects of her subject, and offer a more nuanced portrait of this difficult, fascinating writer.

But all writing is a matter of making choices, and it is hardly fair to criticise a writer for not having fully satisfied my own desires: particularly when this is an absorbing, informative and engaging read.

Bernadette Brennan’s A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work is published by Text Publishing.

The Conversation

Jen Webb receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

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Hands-On: The Vacheron Constantin Overseas 37mm

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the latest watch from Vacheron Constantin, the Overseas 37mm without diamonds. It was a huge hit and I remember really liking it when I got an early peek at SIHH back in January, so I definitely wanted to spend some quality time with this puppy sooner rather than later. While this watch isn’t groundbreaking by any means, I think there is a lot to love about it and that it does bring something genuinely compelling to the table.

What Is The Overseas?

If you are an avid reader of HODINKEE, you likely know what the Overseas is. But in case you are new here (welcome!) or new to Vacheron Constantin, let me break it down for you. Much like Patek Philippe has the Nautilus, Audemars Piguet has the Royal Oak, and Rolex has basically every single watch they’ve ever made, Vacheron has the Overseas. It’s a luxury sports watch with a steel bracelet that can be worn in basically any circumstances imaginable. 

Overall, if you are looking for a luxury steel watch, this is an excellent choice. 

The first Overseas-like watch was the reference 2215 (later 42001) released in 1975, which featured a cushion-form case and integrated steel bracelet. The follow up sports watch was the reference 222, released in 1977 and produced in three variations. Then last year, after a number of other iterations over the decades, Vacheron released the brand spanking new Overseas collection with a number of models including a chronograph, an ultra-thin automatica world-time, and a smaller automatic with diamonds for the ladies. The collection was well-received and praised for its sporty look, innovative new caliber, and easily-changed bracelet and strap options.

The watches targeted at men ranged in size from 40mm to 43.5mm, while the ladies’ diamond Overseas measured 37mm. For some, the 37mm with diamonds was nearly perfect, with one serious caveat – did it have to come with diamonds? I know I have expressed my love of all things sparkly, but there is a time and a place, and a steel sports watch just isn’t either. It would appear that Vacheron felt the same (or maybe read my mind?) and followed up at SIHH this year with a non-diamond 37mm Overseas. 

The 37mm Overseas Without Diamonds

The blue dial on the 37mm Overseas is deep and iridescent.

The newest Overseas comes in stainless steel with either a blue or rose dial and in a two-tone steel and rose gold version with a rose dial. To me, this continues to prove that manufacturers are on board with the two-tone trend (love it or hate it, people, it’s everywhere). But I digress. The case is still tonneau-shaped with the traditional round bezel with sections cut out around the perimeter, plus there’s a removable bracelet. The dial is still the same, with bright white SuperLuminova indexes and hands, with a subsidiary seconds dial at nine o’clock (more on that later). Compared to the other Overseas models, it’s a little smaller (37mm), thicker (10mm), and has a different movement (caliber 5200) that includes a sub-dial (not my favorite, but ok).  

How Does The Overseas Compare To Other Luxury Steel Sports Watches?

The Overseas is one of a few stainless steel luxury steel sport watches currently on the market. Jack, Arthur, and Stephen compared the Overseas with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Piaget Polo S in our latest Three On Three. Check out the in-depth story and video here.

I have to admit that when I first saw the new Overseas collection last year, I didn’t like it. It felt flashy to me for some reason, though I am not sure exactly why. But then I kept seeing it – at events, in the office, online – and it started to appeal to me more and more. The real change of heart happened once I received the 37mm steel version and actually wore it around for a while. Now I’m hooked. The simple (but interesting) case design and the color of the blue dial are so crisp and clean. But I think the real selling point for me is the bracelet.

As someone who prefers to wear a watch with a bracelet, the construction and overall look are both incredibly important to me. In addition to looking awesome, I like the security of a bracelet and that when fitted the right way (*cough* not like a bangle) it doesn’t move. At all. Now, I get that bracelets aren’t for everyone, but to me the Overseas looks better on a bracelet. (I should note the the two-tone version does not come with a bracelet, just the stainless steel example, however both come with a rubber strap and an alligator strap). 

The best thing about this watch for me is the stainless steel bracelet. 

The Overseas bracelet is Fantastic with a capital F. Why? The links are brushed steel and are shaped like halved Maltese crosses (the official symbol of Vacheron), with polished edges giving just enough shine. This is a really fun design element and they also happen to link together properly without much space in between. This limited space in between the links allow for the watch to sit securely on the wrist, but still maintain fluidity. The twin-lock clasp is also something to write home about – easy to open, easy to close, and easy to wear, which are essentially the three things you want from a clasp (Who here has had to wrestle with a sticky clasp? I have, and it sucks.)

And the cherry on top? You can take the bracelet off without a tool and easily swap it for the accompanying rubber and alligator straps. Now, I know every true watch geek should be able to change their own strap, but that’s just not realistic and can be dangerous (for both the watch and the person). This easy changing mechanism allows for anyone to be the master of the strap universe and change it themselves. This is something that I haven’t seen since the Cartier Roadster, which happened to be one of my first watches and is sadly no longer in production. To be honest, I am surprised that more brands don’t do this, but I suspect it has something to do with wanting to inconvenience their clients and force them to come into their boutiques or the local AD so they can try to hustle them to buy another watch. Just being honest here.

The watch is powered by the Vacheron Constantin automatic caliber 5300. 

Inside the watch is the in-house caliber 5300 movement, which measures 22.6mm in diameter and is featured in all of the 37mm Overseas models. The movement has a 60-hour power reserve too, which is the same as the 41mm version. The movement is not only powerful, but is also gorgeous to look at with the refined finishing that we expect from Vacheron Constantin and it is completed with a 22k gold rotor complete with embossed signature. It’s nice to see this watch receive the same internal treatment as the the rest of the Overseas collection. 

Everything about this watch screams “quality” when you pick it up. 

The quick-change system makes swapping out straps easy.

The Overseas comes with a rubber strap and an alligator strap in addition to the bracelet

The watch’s profile is slim and elegant.

While I’d prefer the sub-seconds register at six o’clock, it’s far from a deal-breaker.

There is no bracelet available for the two-tone version, just a pair of straps.

Two-tone is coming back, whether you like it or not.

The only real qualm I have with this watch is that I wish the subsidiary seconds was located at six o’clock and not nine o’clock. What can I say, I am a bit of a traditionalist like that. Also, great news! No date window to be found anywhere on this one. Now, I love a date window for practicality purposes, but I know that many of you hate it (like really hate it), so breathe easy here. You’re welcome. 

Final Thoughts

There’s something striking and modern about the Overseas, though it’s still very much a traditional watch in a lot of ways.

With a watch like this Overseas, it is important to remember that it is a luxury steel sport watch with a $18,400 price tag ($21,700 for the two-tone model). When compared to the Nautilus and the Royal Oak, you’re getting a pretty good deal, and this is one of less expensive luxury steel watches on the market. 

Outside the higher-end of the market however, this watch is certainly spendy and not for everyone. I don’t want that to distract from the watch itself though. If you are looking for a steel sport watch that’s a little different than the usual suspects and have $18,400 to drop on this watch, then I say go for it. It looks great, is extremely comfortable, is well-made with an in-house movement, and is something that I would definitely consider as my everyday watch.

For more, visit Vacheron Constantin online

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