The 222 is not VC’s only reference forgotten to the evolution time, now only known to enthusiasts. The phrase ‘post-quartz perpetual’ brings to mind almost exclusively AP’s 5548, debuted in 1978. However, just a hair behind (in terms of investment in time it takes to develop an in-house, ultra-thin perpetual calendar), were VC with this in 1983. Patek only introduced their 3940 offering in 1985, well on VC’s heels. This model was crucial in helping Vacheron rebound and re-establish their prowess in the wake of the crisis. It is a celebration of classical mechanic watchmaking and a testament to its permanence in Switzerland.
Unlike AP where the QP Royal Oak has become their quintessential perpetual offering, Vacheron did’t really have an equivalent in the Overseas for a very long time. There have been a handful of very limited perpetual Overseas releases, but none have really stuck in the zeitgeist. The initial series of QPs from the big three are something of a neo-vintage grail set, and it’s not difficult to see why. If you want Vacheron and you want it perpetual, this is the classic. Moreover, their design approach was unique. VC reworked a Dubois-Depraz calendar module so that the day and date are shown at three and nine with months and leap year indication integrated at 12, something of a first for the display.
This first series was produced from 83 until the early 90s and is probably the most collectable iteration. Its 36mm case is executed here in YG, also available in platinum. All featured a stepped bezel and straight lugs, lending a bit of a neo-vintage aesthetic to an otherwise very modern calibre. Like modern QPs, the base calibre here is JLC 920, modified extensively and finished by hand at VC well enough to earn a Geneva Seal. Interestingly, a technical choice in movement design meant one could independently set the month on the 43031, whereas AP’s 5548 could not. It also features a lapis lazuli moon disc, a thing of extreme beauty. A wide variety of dial and case configurations were offered over this reference’s two decade run—my pick of which would be the very rare skeletonized 43032. Any of them are lovely, one really can’t go too far wrong here.
This example has a sharp case with full proportions. All hallmarks are sharp. It has even and light surface wear throughout the case. Its dial appears faultless as far as I can see, unmarred. It comes with an ostrich blue strap and a guarantee card fro 1990. It was recently serviced by VC London and comes from a well-regarded London-based retailer.
Find this 43031 here from Watch Brothers London for 23000 GBP.