Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 222

For the last few years, I’ve not known what to make of the fact that the 222 is in production again, but I think I’ve just come to terms with it. Prior, when asked if I was a Royal Oak or Nautilus person, I’d answer, ‘I’m a 222 person’. And half the time, the reply I got was, ‘Huh?’ That was a different time. I wasn’t ready to admit that it’s not 1977 anymore and the 222 had been, largely, forgotten to history. But the Les Historiques collection exists to reanimate and bring to modernity VC’s rather robust history. The stride out of obscurity is welcome, but was it handled with due care?

In period, the 222 was a very credible rival to the 3700 Nautilus and 5402 Royal Oak. Trouble is, it didn’t sell nearly as well: 500 in steel, 150 gold, 100 bimetal (that’s total). A new attempt was made in the Overseas, but those who loved history, and Hysek, always turned to the 222. We’re now back in a world where the Nautilus, Royal Oak, and 222 are in production. But something feels off. What’s strange here is that the Nautilus and Royal Oak now have five decades of steady and constant evolution since. Their cases have been adapting: thinner, flatter, tighter tolerances, improved calibres, and even more variants. Now there’s also a 222 back, but it’s nearly-identical on a visual level: teleported straight from 1980. If it hadn’t been scrapped circa ’84, it would have evolved comparably. What we’re looking at is a Singer 911 to the AP & PP’s GT3s. They’re both modern, one just leans more heavily on the past, forgoes iteration in favor of the hard nostalgic hit. Is that so wrong?

Sure, the calibre is updated to VC’s own 2455/2, no longer a JLC 920 ébauche, but it’s a thicker movement. Isn’t that going backwards a bit? Les Historiques usually adapt their historic designs to be worn like a modern watch whilst distilling the formula and punching it up a bit. Take, for example, the 47101. It leaned on the 1950’s 4178 but updated the pushers, made the lugs more voluptuous, widened the bezel, finished everything to a higher standard, and generally tweaked the proportions into something distinct. This is a more literal interpretation of history, a near 1:1 visual treat. And I’ve just finally figured out what that means: the 222 was perfect. Not even modern Vacheron can do better. And so having more chances to acquire one, well I can’t get mad at that. But I can get mad at Brad Pitt. Because despite being a Breitling ambassador he just made my dreams of a steel 222 jumbo vanish. I’m also a little upset this set didn’t include a gold money clip styled after the bezel, which the original did. We’re pedants here aren’t we.


This example is excellent, as you’d expect of a watch made last year. Not much to comment on condition. Full set. Also worth noting this bracelet does probably have a better construction than the original, which could get a bit loose, like a Jubilee, over time. It comes from a well-regarded Shanghai retailer.