Few watches have garnered the sort of mythos of Vacheron Constantin’s 222. First released in 1977 — one year after the Patek Philippe Nautilus and five after the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak — the integrated bracelet sports watch saw just a seven-year run, eventually succeeded by the Overseas line more than a decade later in 1996. Just a few hundred examples of the 222 were ever produced, and it remains a seriously-coveted collector’s item because of it.
Fast forward 45 years after its debut and Vacheron Constantin has decided to delight watch fanatics everywhere with the unveiling of its new version of the 222 in 18K yellow gold at Watches and Wonders 2022 in Geneva. Whereas the original 222 used either a Jaeger-LeCoultre mechanical movement or a quartz timekeeper, this remake, dubbed Les Historiques 222, utilizes Vacheron’s in-house caliber 2455/2, an ultra-thin automatic movement measuring just 3.6mm thick. Other than the upgraded engine, which is now visible through a see-through sapphire case back, the new 222 looks nearly indistinguishable from the original, with the case measuring 37mm across.
To bring things full circle, the Swiss watchmaker also offered some highly-modern updates to the blockbuster Overseas line. VC released at this year’s expo the first skeletonized versions of both the Overseas Tourbillon and the Overseas Perpetual Calendar, both fully showcasing their self-winding caliber 2160 SQ or the 1120 QPSQ/1 movements, respectively. The ultra-thin Perpetual Calendar with moon-phase indicator comes in a pink gold case and a blue dial, whereas the Tourbillon comes in either a pink gold case surrounding a black dial or a grade-5 titanium case paired with a blue dial. All three, it goes without saying, are stunning.
Unsurprisingly, the new 222 has a subtle retro look, in a classy way that your typical retro watches just never quite achieve. Conversely, the new Overseas timepieces have a totally modern look, showing how the integrated bracelet sports watch style has evolved since the first 222 debuted in the genre’s infancy. All of the new models will be available exclusively through Vacheron Constantin boutiques, with prices available upon request.