HISTORIQUES 222 – RETURN OF AN ICON

Published: 24th October 2022

Vacheron Constantin is reissuing its legendary 222, launched in 1977 for the 222nd

anniversary of the Maison.  The watch’s bold design by Jorg Hysek marked a turning point in the history of the Manufacture, which thereby made a remarkable foray into the world of “sporty-chic” watches. Among the various existing 222 references, the one chosen to mark the return of the legend was the Reference 44018 in 18K 3N gold with a 37 mm diameter. In keeping with the spirit of the Historiques collection, this new watch highlights Vacheron Constantin’s rich aesthetic and cultural heritage through a contemporary reinterpretation.

For collectors of vintage watches, 222 is no ordinary number. It refers to a legendary timepiece, a symbol of an era as well as a watershed in the history of Vacheron Constantin. With the 222 watch, presented on the occasion of its 222nd anniversary 45 years ago, the Maison unveiled a sports watch adding to a vocabulary that had been little used until then. During the previous decades, sports models had been designed for active people, notably with ‘professional’ timepieces designed for use by pilots or divers, for example, while luxury watches occupied the ‘dressy’ timepiece segment.

It was in the 1970s, a period marked by increasing competition from quartz watches, that timepieces combining the watchmaking worlds of sport and luxury appeared. With the 222, Vacheron Constantin contributed to this new approach to the mechanical watch, which was very much in keeping with an era open to new ideas. This model clearly marked a break in the stylistic evolution of the Maison: the sporting codes of watchmaking are integrated within a timepiece featuring taut lines and sharp angle, yet consistently elegant.

A PLACE IN COLLECTORS’ HEARTS

In 1963, Vacheron Constantin presented its first model adapted to the contingencies of working life: the Turnograph reference 6782, a name derived from its bidirectional rotating bezel with a 15-minute graduated scale. The shape of the baton-type hands and the geometry of its straight hour-markers did not go unnoticed, even though the model had a relatively short lifespan.

In 1975, the Maison made a new foray into the field of urban watches with the Chronomètre Royal reference 42001. With its special-shaped case, combined with a rounded octagonal bezel, this first Vacheron Constantin timepiece in steel with an integrated bracelet opened up new style perspectives. These were confirmed two years with the 222 designed by Jorg Hysek, whose modern style retains Vacheron Constantin’s inherent elegance and attention to detail.

In addition to being a new model with an integrated bracelet, the 222 watch launched in 1977 introduced a functional architecture with its flat base topped by a prominent fluted bezel. Its monobloc case, which required the movement to be cased-up from above, was waterresistant to 120 metres thanks to its screw-down bezel. The 222 boasted exemplary thinness at 7 mm, thanks to its ultra-thin movement measuring barely 3.05 mm and driving indications of the hours, minutes and date. The baton-type hands and straight hourmarkers similar to the 1963 reference 6782 Turnograph watch confirmed an understated and refined aesthetic, while exuding an impression of robustness thanks to its bracelet screwed to the case middle and featuring large hexagonal central links. Initially presented in a 37 mm version nicknamed “Jumbo”, the 222 was subsequently interpreted in 34 mm and 24 mm steel, yellow gold or two-tone iterations, polished or gemset but always adorned with the Maison’s Maltese cross emblem nestling in the right-hand corner of the case at 5 o’clock. Remaining in limited production until 1985, the 222 belongs to the legend of the first “sporty-chic” watches in watchmaking history.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DETAILS

Vacheron Constantin is offering an updated interpretation of this legendary model in its Jumbo version with the Historiques 222 watch in 18K 3N yellow gold. In keeping with the spirit of the Historiques collection, the watches composing the collection are not identical replicas of the original watch, but instead contemporary reinterpretations, endowed with the latest technical advances to optimise their reliability and comfort on the wrist.

The emblematic codes of the 222 have been respected: 37 mm diameter, fluted bezel, gold-toned dial, straight hour-markers and baton-type hands, integrated bracelet and hexagonal central links, as well as the Maltese cross at 5 o’clock made of polished Pd150 white gold and soldered onto the flat base of the case.