‘Blank Dial’ 44018 Vacheron Constantin 222 Jumbo
This 222 is the archetypal double take watch. Glance once, and it’s a bimetal 222 jumbo. Incredible watch, in any dial. But glance twice and your mind begins to process that this is something bizarre. The hands are non-luminous dauphine, solid gold, and not batons. In attention to detail, the dial is signed Swiss alone, no sigmas. This, because there isn’t a single index. This isn’t an onyx dial, but, because your mind doesn’t expect to see a marker-less 222, the darkness feels deeper than 1E1740.7-2942 (one for the physics nerds there). Having recently underscored cream dial 222s and the rare Roman numeral dials, I thought I’d seen it all. Then this surfaced.
I haven’t seen anyone yet catalogue all known iterations offered in the 222. So far, I’m at textured champagne, silver, black (that’s actually a hair lighter than black, sometimes mistaken for navy), white/cream (same thing, different patina), Roman numerals, and if you count the Square 222 Saudi Royal Family dials. But then this thing surfaced in the market, and I have something new to reference. Black dial, no indices. The beautiful thing about Vacheron Constantin is the strength of their heritage department. For example, when we had a Latin America overseas that no one seemed to know anything about, they reached right back to me from the top to tell its story as best they were able. They care about their history and want to tell it accurately to those interested, at their time cost. And that’s the case here as well, as anyone worried about its rarity may be consoled by a letter from VC’s heritage director stating that this is the dial the watch was born with: no indices and dauphine hands.
The 222 has experienced a kind of explosion in popularity, off the back of a reissue, that I haven’t seen in . . .ever. VC themselves have been in the middle of a renaissance the last decade, quietly leaning into their strengths while axeing some of the 2000s nonsense. The result is that Jorg Hysek’s baby is no longer a cult classic, enthusiast-only sort of watch. Blame Brad Pitt. Every 222 we’ve highlighted has circulated further than the previous. But it’s still far rarer than any Royal Oak or Nautilus by production. It’s estimated that 700 of these Jumbo cases were ever made in all metals, fewer than 100 in this steel & gold. And I like this one because, whilst rarer than a modesty dressed lady on TikTok, it’s a challenging aesthetic. If the 222 unites everyone, bimetal divides that universality and this dial probably polarizes doubly. But does anything show off the uniqueness of this bracelet so well as floating gold hexagons? And dauphines pointing at nothing like an onyx Day-Date on acid? As overly-aggressive used Porsche ads seem to have grown fond of saying lately, ‘FIND ME ANOTHER!’ . . .but seriously, someone do. Please.
It’s not even a very worn example. The case is has the lightest hairlines, full factory proportions. The bracelet is not slack, as often seen in these. The whole thing is perfect. It comes from a well-regarded London retailer, with VC’s Certificate of Authenticity.