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 water-resistant 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 hour-markers 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.

…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.

A few subtle changes have been made to the Historiques 222 watch:

Operating at a frequency of 4 Hz (28,800 vibrations/hour) and endowed with a 40-hour power reserve (compared with 2.75 Hz for the original model), Calibre 2455/2 delivers enhanced precision. The oscillating weight of Calibre 2455/2 was specifically developed for this model and is engraved with the original 222 logo, surrounded by a fluted motif echoing the bezel.

The caseback is openworked to reveal the calibre.

The finishes – vertical-satin-brushed crown and bracelet; circular satin-finished bezel and polished hour-markers, hand-chamfered gear trains and bridges adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif, as well as a circular-grained mainplate – reveal the concern for each and every detail characterising the world of Haute Horlogerie.

The dial features the vintage font of the “AUTOMATIC” inscription. The date window has been significantly offset from the outer rim of the dial to enhance legibility, thanks to the slightly smaller diameter of the calibre compared with its predecessor.
The Super-LumiNova® coating of the hands and hour-markers (off-white by day and lime green by night) also results in improved readability.

The bracelet is fitted with a triple-blade (rather than double-blade) clasp

The bracelet articulations have been revisited to hide the visible pins and improve comfort on the wrist.