Vacheron Constantin Resurrects the 222 In Full Former Glory

It’s been 45 years since Vacheron Constantin celebrated their 222nd anniversary in 1977 with the introduction of the 222 integrated steel sports watch designed by Jörg Hysek. Coming a year after the Nautilus, and a handful after the Royal Oak, the 222 is often referenced in the same discussion as those Genta icons, but its lore hadn’t quite reached the same levels with the mainstream until recent years. This was the under-the-radar high-end sports watch of the ‘70s. The watch had a short production run of 7 years, and in total, fewer than 1,000 examples made it to market. That changes this year with the introduction of a new 222 within the Vacheron Constantin Historiques collection. 

The return of the 222 comes in a single flavor, gold. This of course mirrors the original, which was built in full gold, full steel, and two-toned variants. The watch retains its slim dimensions measuring 37mm in diameter, and just 7.95mm in thickness. The integrated bracelet design, including the Maltese cross at the bottom right, remain untouched. The look is certainly relevant today, and in the midst of a renaissance of high end sports watches the 222 still manages to stand apart by relying on the strength of Hysek’s original design.

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Like the Royal Oak and Nautilus, the 222 originally made use of JLC 920 based caliber 1121 allowing for the svelte dimensions. The newest 222 moves to the equally thin, but decidedly more modern 2455/2 automatic movement. The movement, along with its ‘222’ emblazoned gold rotor are visible through the exhibition back.

The 222 has always been a bit of a sleeper watch, and this release likely won’t change that. To me, that’s always been a big part of the 222’s charm. While its cultural impact hasn’t been as broad as some of its cohorts, its status amongst collectors and enthusiasts has only deepened over time. That makes this new release all the more refreshing. The soft tones of the dial somehow come off as understated, almost restrained. As much as a full gold watch can be, I suppose. 

The 37mm case diameter measurement doesn’t really tell the full story here, as the integration and taper of the bracelet carry a wide profile around the wrist that provides a robust presence. The lack of any thickness to speak of however make for a silky experience on the wrist. The size, the tone of the gold, and the modernities like the lume application to the hour markers and hands make this a compelling watch across the wardrobe, provided you can find one, of course. 

It will only be available through Vacheron Constantin boutiques, and the price is listed as “on request”, meaning it will likely be a rare sight in the public sphere. Hopefully this will lay the groundwork for a more accessible steel reference down the line, which would work just as fabulously in this modern guise. Vacheron Constantin.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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