Integrated bracelet sports watches are enjoying their much deserved moment in the sun right now and Vacheron Constantin is reclaiming its dominance in this space, doing so first with its freshly refurbished Overseas collection, and now with the return of the Ref. 222, which is undeniably one of the manufacture’s most iconic timepieces of the 1970s.
Its name alone stirs up strong emotions among watch aficionados, as many regard the 222 as a watershed timepiece that added the term “sports watches” into the watchmaking lexicon of Vacheron Constantin.
Launched in 1977 to mark the 222nd anniversary of the manufacture, its extroverted design cannot be further from Vacheron Constantin’s milieu of understated dress watches, but that was the point. The timepiece was designed by avant-garde independent designer Jorg Hysek, whose vision had been to adapt Vacheron Constantin’s unique DNA for a young and dynamic audience.
“I wanted to design an elegant sporty timepiece while striking the right balance between these two elements to fit in with Vacheron Constantin’s classic and refined universe,” he affirms.
Ref. 222 contained a number of recognisable hallmarks included the integrated bracelet with large hexagonal central links, the prominent fluted bezel which is a vital part of the watch’s water resistant architecture, its exemplary thinness of just 7mm owing to the ultra-thin movement within, and baton type hands with straight hour markers.
But most would agree that its most distinctive element is the Maltese cross emblem—a symbol of the manufacture—positioned peculiarly at the bottom right corner of the tonneau shaped case.
In production from 1977 to 1985, Ref 222 gets a new lease of life this year as Vacheron Constantin pays it a worthy tribute with the new Historiques 222. Staying true to the original in terms of form, size of 37mm, and even colour—the manufacture used 18K 3N yellow gold which is slightly paler than standard yellow gold—the contemporary model proffers a string of technical upgrades.
These include higher oscillating frequency, a sapphire case back displaying a new oscillating weight design, improved bracelet articulation with triple-blade clasp, and more.
Best of all, it is not a limited edition although it won’t be easy scoring one, because as everyone knows, the hotter the watch, the longer the waitlist.