The Royal Oak and the Nautilus have the pleasure to welcome their long-lost sibling back in the modern watch family: The Vacheron Constantin 222 is back! While the jury is still out there as to what the ‘it’ watch will be for this year’s Watches & Wonders, I’m all-in on this one. I’m not much of a fan of re-editions, or vintage-inspired editions, but this watch should have never left us in the first place. To see it make a comeback is pretty fantastic.
Vacheron Constantin’s 222 isn’t a ‘new’ watch. It was initially created in the same decade that Patek launched the Nautilus and Audemars Piguet its Royal Oak. Whereas the latter two were designed by Gerald Genta, the VC was designed by Jorg Hysek. The 222 celebrated VC’s 222 year anniversary and represented Vacheron Constantin’s take on the integrated bracelet sports watch (note: it was not its first integrated bracelet).
At first glance this Les Historiques 222 looks very similar to the (much sought after) vintage 222. This modern design stayed loyal to the original design. The original used an ultra thin (JLC) caliberCaliber The caliber ('movement') is the heart and engine of a watch. It consists of a number of interconnected components that work together. Energy is transmitted through the gear train, to the escapement mechanism. The escapement mechanism releases this energy in a controlled manner. This drives the gear train, which ultimately rotates the hands of the watch and keeps time. [More Info], whereas the modern relaunch uses a modern caliber 2433/2. This adds a bit of thickness to the new case (1mm give or take), which is totally fine in my book. Vacheron can always issue another version incorporating a modern ultra-thin caliber at a later date. The bracelet remained mostly identical, notable change here is the introduction of a new and modern triple-blade clasp.
Note that it is still a very thin watch, coming with just a 7.95mm thickness. The case has kept the fantastic 37mm diameter, a great and rather brave choice by Vacheron Constantin. I think the temptation was certainly there to take this up to at least 38mm, but I’m just guessing. Overall, there are a number of very small visual tweaks and changes when comparing it to the vintage models, hopefully to nobody’s surprise. A watch that honors its past, while not being afraid to embrace modern watchmaking.
The Les Historiques 222 launches in yellow gold. One can hope it will eventually be released in white gold or, dare I say, stainless steel. If you are currently trying to call your local AD to get one of these, you might want to know that the Les Historiques 222 is currently only available at the boutiques and will launch in September in limited quantity.