When luxury steel sports watches with integrated bracelets suddenly appeared in the 1970s, it was not only Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe that caused a stir with their Royal Oak and Nautilus creations. Vacheron Constantin was also quick to recognize the trend – despite it not even being perceived as such at the time, but rather dismissed as outrageous and a flop.
Just one year after the launch of Patek’s Nautilus, Vacheron Constantin launched the 222 in 1977 to mark the maison‘s 222nd anniversary. It appeared not only in stainless steel, but also gold. Most notably, the 222 is considered the forerunner to the Overseas collection, one of the most popular timepieces of all time at the watchmaker. Now Vacheron Constantin is reissuing the original model, making for a surprising but pleasing highlight at this year’s trade show.
The Vacheron Constantin 222 “Jumbo” (left) and Historiques 222 (right).
Vacheron Constantin 222 ‘Jumbo’
The original, the 222 “Jumbo“, was first launched 45 years ago now. At that time, it marked both the 222nd anniversary of the manufacture and coincided with progressive advances in the world of sporty-chic watches. The design was not the work of Gerald Genta, the genius responsible for the Nautilus and Royal Oak, but of Jorg Hysek, a designer from East Berlin aged just 24 years old. The 222 of 1977 was distinguished not only by the integrated bracelet, but also by the fluted bezel and extra-flat 3.05 mm calibre 1121 (Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre 920), which had to be inserted from above into the one-piece case. Thanks to the screw-down bezel, the sporty-chic watch was water-resistant to 120 metres.
Vacheron Constantin 222 „Jumbo“
The 222 was initially introduced in a 37-mm case and nicknamed the “Jumbo“. The maison‘s emblematic Maltese Cross was always located in the right corner of the case at 5 o’clock. Now, after 45 years, a beautiful reinterpretation is returning. For this, they have deliberately chosen the reference 44018 in 18-carat 3N yellow gold, one of the many 222 models presented at the time.
222 „Jumbo“ & Historiques 222
At first glance, the new Historiques 222 looks amazingly similar to the original model. But it is not simply some identical replica. Rather, it is a reinterpretation in which the stylistic features have been retained yet also provided with the latest technical features.
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
Like its prototype, the new Historiques 222 has a diameter of 37 mm, a fluted bezel, a gold-coloured dial, straight indices and baton hands. It comes on an integrated bracelet with the Maltese Cross in polished white gold soldered to the top of the case at 5 o’clock. The case is just 7.95 mm in height.
Inside the watch ticks the state-of-the-art manufacture calibre 2455/2 with a power reserve of 40 hours, beating at a frequency of 4 Hz. By contrast, the original model from 1977 had a frequency of only 2.75 Hz. The oscillating weight, which is now revealed through the open caseback, displays an engraving of the original 222 logo. The bridges showcase Geneva stripes, while the main plate uses perlage. On the dial, you can find the inscription “AUTOMATIC” with the original typography. Since the diameter of the new calibre is slightly smaller in comparison with the previous model, the date has also been indented a little to aid readability. At night, the indices and baton hands glow in a greenish hue, in reference to the tritium in the original 222 models.
For us, the reinterpretation of the 222 is a somewhat understated highlight of this year’s Watches & Wonders. It’s drop dead gorgeous, perfectly proportioned, and equipped with a latest generation movement. In the Royal Oak‘s big anniversary year (50 years), Vacheron Constantin is taking on the competition, and even calls to mind the hype surrounding the Nautilus and Royal Oak, that were instrumental in the race for luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets in the 1970s.
The new Historiques 222 is available exclusively at Vacheron Constantin boutiques. Price: 61,500 euros.
|CASE MATERIAL||18K 3N yellow gold
|DIMENSIONS||Diameter: 37 mm
Height: 7.95 mm
|WATER RESISTANCE||5 bar (~50 m)
|DIAL||Gold-toned. Yellow gold polished Maltese cross placed on the dial. Yellow gold hour-markers and hands highlighted with Super-LumiNova (off-white during the day and lime green at night)
|STRAP/BRACELET||18K 3N yellow gold vertical satin finished
|POWER RESERVE||40 hours
|FREQUENCY||28,800 vph (4 Hz)
|FUNCTIONS||Hours, minutes, date
|PRICE||EUR 61.500 – Boutique Edition