I have spilled a great deal of ink already on behalf of my pick from the original ‘holy trinity’. However, in light of the recent Les Historiques reissue, an original 222 is now a different proposition. When a manufacture shines a bright light on the dark, dusty corners of their back catalogue, there are secondary consequences. I fundamentally believe that reignited and new interest from reissues is a good thing for watches as a whole. Nonetheless, there is nothing quite like the true 1975 222. Particularly this Jumbo, executed in yellow gold no less. Thought to be one of fewer than 100 examples, this original is one of the most desirable 222s of all time.
Vacheron Constantin were last of the big three Swiss houses to debut their steel sports offering. AP had first mover advantage, but VC had the competitive advantage of being able to watch and learn. Commemorating the manufacture’s 222nd anniversary, Jorg Hysek was tasked to pen an integrated sports offering. The case was super thin, harshly angular, hexagonal in theme, and serrated in detail. No porthole faff was to be found anywhere. Its design impression was VC to the core. The 222 was produced in 37 & 34mm, with the Jumbo 37 shown here. I particularly love the VC-cross case stamp just beneath its 5 marker, a divisive detail to say the least. Interestingly, the Jumbo utilized an entirely different calibre to the midsized, a JLC 920-derived ultra-thin calibre 1121. It remains even today one of the thinnest full-rotor movement architectures ever produced and allows for the Jumbo’s razor profile.
The 222 was, until very recently, territory for the studied watch nerd. Off the beaten path, a bit polarizing in design, and hard to source. The beacon that is Watches & Wonders has obliterated that notion. Markets have risen, interest is piqued, and I’ve been receiving about a DM every three days as to if I’m selling two of the previous steel 222s I’ve featured here (probably my most accurate metric, and no, for reference). This means hype and all the things that come with will begin to surround this reference. Sure, it makes one of my personal goals much, much more difficult. But it also is a part of a watch’s natural ascension to revered status. Let me put it this way; Ferrari sort of ‘reissued’ the bewitching 1957 72-example 250 TDF a few years back with the F12 TDF—even if in name alone. The classic’s value nearly doubled. Yet, still how many more people fell in love with the prancing horse (and both models) in the process? I’m guessing that number is significant. To paraphrase: a greater number of watch enthusiasts willing to study history closely is a great thing. Long live the 222.
This example is in a lovely state. It is worth noting that the case has been subjected to a full refinish recently, and so the excellent factory-looking lines should be no surprise. However, the rest matches. It is said that this watch has been in a safe for the last fourteen years and recently given attention. The dial is perfect, all tritium looking even in cream tone. The date wheel appears quite aged but that is all I can really comment on. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded German retailer.
Find this 222 Jumbo here from The Watchguy for 152000 EUR.