46004 Vacheron Constantin Square 222
Vacheron Constantin are famously reserved and austere about their watchmaking, in philosophy, design, and engineering. But that’s actually a more modern branding construction than anything. VC went full experimental in the 80s, to an unparalleled extent. The square 222 is that genre of watch which will make zero sense to anyone outside the depths of the horological rabbit hole: unconventional, obscure, shrouded in mystery, and still something of a footnote today. The traditional 222 was reissued last year through Vacheron’s Les Historiques collection. But the square 222, well that remains in the darkly lit corners of forgotten Maltese cross lore, a reminder of perhaps the brand’s most audacious case design ever.
Niche iterations of well-known integrated steel sport watches are a fun place to spend an evening. Patek have the 3770 Nautellipse and AP have the 6005 Rectangular RO. But where those are both quartz, Vacheron kept it mechanical with the same brilliant JLC 920-derived ultra-thin calibre 1121 of the traditional 222. Interestingly, unlike the traditional 222, Jorg Hysek had nothing to do with this alternative sibling. The square 222 was entirely imagined by VC upper management to align with new market demand. By why not quartz and middle-market like AP and Patek? No one really knows for sure, it’s all hearsay. But, as a result, the square 222 is today the only niche integrated sport steel iteration that sticks pridefully to Switzerland’s traditional of mechanical watchmaking. Despite the exterior, it’s a bit austere after all.
So how this watch came to be, precisely, remains something of a mystery. But its thin angular case remains firmly inside 222-based design language as does that Maltese cross case stamp; there’s no question what inspired it. However, the famed hexagonal bracelet is now contrasted by a case that only just manages to hexagonalize the edges of its largely square 31x38mm case. It has been said that this square variant was made in fewer than 300 examples. From the relatively low volume that surface, this seems accurate to me; the sort of watch that normally finds home at a big-three auction house. Today, it’s offered by an excellent London retailer to the secondary market.
This example is a standout for both its case and well-aged tritium. The vertically brushed dial has no damage, clear scripts, and lovely cream tritium application. Its case displays sharp edges and retains a deep brushing where it should. The bracelet shows only light surface wear matched across the caseback. It’s a lovely one, and comes recently serviced with an extract from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Square 222 here from Watch Brothers London for 21650 GBP.