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Apr 16 • 15:55

Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 : our impressions

Authentic symbol of the 1970s, the 37mm 222 represents the modern version of the iconic model from the past. Success or failure?

Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 : our impressions

The History of Vacheron Constantin Watchmakers

Established in 1755, Vacheron Constantin stands as the most venerable luxury watchmaking house in existence, boasting a remarkably unbroken lineage. The original Vacheron House underwent a rebranding in 1819 to Vacheron & Constantin when François Constantin joined the founding family. Throughout the years, the firm was seamlessly managed by a succession of heirs until 1987, when Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani acquired the esteemed brand. In 1996, Vacheron Constantin ultimately became an integral part of the prestigious Richemont Group.

The distinguished Swiss company, producing an exclusive 20,000 timepieces annually, takes pride in an impressive collection of innovative watchmaking achievements. In 1790, they pioneered the first horological complication, and in 1929, they crafted a magnificent "Grande Complication" pocket watch for Egypt's King Fouad. Fast forward to 1992, they unveiled the world's slimmest minute repeater, and more recently, in 1996, under the Richemont aegis, they introduced the most intricately designed mechanical watch ever created.

Although Vacheron Constantin may not be part of today's highly acclaimed "timepiece trifecta," it indisputably ranks among the most distinguished watchmaking brands. The company has evolved with a remarkably diverse portfolio, featuring iconic collections such as Historiques, Malte, Overseas, and Patrimony. The Métiers d'Art collection pays tribute to the brand's storied past by highlighting intricate decorative techniques applied to both timepieces and jewelry. Vacheron Constantin holds a worldwide reputation for unparalleled quality and innovation in its enameling craftsmanship.

It is an absolute delight for Iconic Swiss Watch to pay tribute to the esteemed Vacheron Constantin house and its exceptional timepiece creations.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronographe 49150Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronographe 49150
Vacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar 4300VVacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar 4300V
Our Vacheron Constantin catalogue

The Timeless Reference 222 Model

Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 : our impressions
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222

Launched in 1977, the iconic 222 watch commemorated an unbroken 222-year legacy of the Maltese Cross manufacture. With a mere 700 pieces crafted (in steel, gold and steel, gold, and white gold) over a seven-year period, this exclusive reference has earned a legendary status. Initially conceived with a 37mm case—dubbed the "Jumbo" size at the time—a subsequent 34mm rendition was created to cater to women's preferences.

The Model 222 serves as Vacheron Constantin's answer to the pioneering efforts of Audemars Piguet, who introduced the Royal Oak reference 5402 in 1972, masterfully designed by Gerald Genta. This timepiece was followed by Patek Philippe's Nautilus in 1976 and IWC's Ingenieur collection, all of which prominently showcased luxury sports watches primarily constructed from steel.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402STAudemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402ST

The Model 222 is instantly recognizable by its flat table, unique fluted bezel, and highly functional integrated large-link bracelet, all complemented by the eye-catching Maltese Cross stamped at the 5 o'clock position on the case. Vacheron Constantin collaborated with the up-and-coming designer Jörg Hysek, who is also responsible for designing Breguet's Marine, Tag Heuer's Kirium, and Tiffany & Co.'s StreamAmerica. On the mechanical front, the 1970s Model 222 featured an ultra-thin automatic movement based on Jaeger-LeCoultre's caliber 920, which had been in production since the 1960s. It's worth noting that the Model 222 is undeniably the forerunner of the Overseas collection, introduced in 1996 as the vanguard of Vacheron Constantin's sporty line.

222 Bracelet222 Bracelet
222 Fluted bezel222 Fluted bezel

The Revival of the Vacheron 222

Vacheron Constantin's reissued Model 222 as part of the Historiques collection stays true to its original design, retaining its iconic 37mm diameter and available in a singular yellow gold edition. It also showcases its pronounced fluted bezel, a golden dial reminiscent of the historic version, and its distinctive articulated bracelet with hexagonal central links. Vacheron Constantin infuses this timepiece with subtle contemporary accents, such as a skeletonized case back revealing the in-house mechanical movement—specifically, the reference 2455/2 with automatic winding. The 22k gold oscillating weight is elegantly embellished with the classic 222 logo.

 Special 222 oscillating weight Special 222 oscillating weight
Geneva hallmarkGeneva hallmark
222 caseback222 caseback

Le modèle au poignet

The reissued watch is exceptionally well-balanced and sits perfectly on an average-sized male wrist (17 cm). The weight of the gold is certainly noticeable but not uncomfortable, thanks in part to the watch's 7.95mm thickness. The brushed finish and matte appearance of the yellow gold are masterfully executed, and in my opinion, the timepiece is truly stunning. Special praise goes to the practical and beautifully crafted clasp; however, it's worth noting that the provided half-link could have been replaced with a finer adjustment system, as seen on the latest Nautilus models.

The overall look of the watch showcases top-notch craftsmanship, effortlessly merging the historic model with contemporary finishes. We were absolutely wowed by the bracelet's articulation, offering remarkable comfort and perfect flexibility.

From an aesthetic standpoint, it's essential to be able to appreciate gold watches to fully value the 222. Nonetheless, it's worth highlighting that the yellow gold finish is incredibly sophisticated and anything but flashy. The timepiece exudes a sporty and exceptionally stylish appeal.

Timeless and unisexTimeless and unisex
Perfect diameterPerfect diameter
Excellent legibilityExcellent legibility

Our impression on this reissue

Reissued timepieces might not be for everyone, as they often face their fair share of critiques. However, in this specific instance, the watch features subtle modern touches while staying true to the original design, which is a major plus. Importantly, its original proportions have been maintained and still hold relevance today. The 37mm size isn't overly restrictive for an average or even larger sized wrist, and it works just as well for smaller wrists.

We were particularly blown away by the outstanding quality of the finishes, which rightfully positions Vacheron Constantin among the industry's elite.

For us, the Model 222 is a superb alternative to the Nautilus and Royal Oak, effectively distinguishing itself within the market.

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