While Vacheron Constantin is a watchmaker who is more than capable of dipping into the archives to inspire its more classically designed watches, the new Les Historiques 222 might be the most modern reissue the brand has ever released. Perhaps Vacheron Constantin executives noticed the recent rise in vintage 222 prices, or perhaps they enjoyed the numerological link to 2022, but whatever the reason, this year the storied Swiss watchmaker has released one of their most compelling watches in years.
Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222: What Is It?
In response to the release of the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet in ’72 and the Nautilus by Patek Philippe in ’76, it was in 1977 that Vacheron Constantin introduced the 222 model – the brand’s first luxury sports watch. While both the Royal Oak and the Nautilus were imagined by legendary watch designer Gerald Genta, Vacheron Constantin turned to German-born designer Jorg Hysek who created the 222.
The original 222 enjoyed just an eight-year production life, but this year more than three decades later, the design returns to Vacheron Constantin in the Les Historiques 222. Cast in yellow gold, the watch is one of the most historically faithful reissues we’ve seen in recent years, making it a compelling proposition from the brand.
The 37mm solid yellow gold case is quintessential of the late ’70s, with sharply squared-off lugs that flow neatly into the ergonomic bracelet, measuring just 7.95mm thick. The case features a Maltese cross at 5 o’clock, which is also the Vacheron Constantin logo, while the main surfaces of the case are satin-brushed to strong effect.
The bezel is an unusual shape, with no less than two dozen grooves around its circumference. Flipping the watch over, you’ll find an exceptional view of the movement behind the sapphire crystal caseback, which offers 50m of water resistance.
The dial, much like the original from 1977, is an attractive golden tone that matches the colour of the case and bracelet, leaving absolutely no doubt that you’ve got a gold watch on your wrist. The dial text is also identical to the vintage version, with only a slight update to the font of the word “AUTOMATIC”, while at 3 o’clock you’ll see a convenient date window.
Beneath the dial is Vacheron’s in-house calibre 2455/2, which ticks away at 28,800vph and offers 40 hours of power reserve. This new movement sees one of the only updates in the modern edition, as it measures a little over 1mm thicker than the original ultra-thin calibre 1121 (which also happened to be used in the Nautilus and Royal Oak).
The bracelet is a true work of metallurgical art, neatly tapering from the lugs down to the butterfly-folding clasp. Each link features an unusual elongated lozenge shape, which nicely emphasises the angular case.
Verdict & Price
All considered, the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222 is a really exciting release, demonstrating both that the Geneva-based watchmaker is listening to its clients, and that its archive remains a rich source of inspiration. The 222 is a design that has slowly grown an appreciating fan base, who are sure to enjoy this contemporary expression of the near-half-century-old shape.
While the price of the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222 isn’t exactly affordable, when considered against its peers, the RRP CHF 63,500 (AU$95,200) isn’t exorbitant. Consider that a 37mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo Ultra-Thin in yellow gold has an RRP of CHF 63,100 and that a Patek Philippe Nautilus in 40mm of rose gold cost CHF 50,000, it’s definitely comparable.