What do you remember about 1977? If, indeed you had been born, perhaps you recall Star Wars hyper-speeding into cinemas. Or perhaps your mind jumps to a memory of Concorde, which took its first flight that year. It was also the year Elvis Presley died — but a band of excellent albums debuted to fill this musical void. Amongst them; Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and Bob Marley’s ‘Exodus’ would all go on to become gold-certified records.
Which brings us neatly to another of 1977’s shining unveilings. Because records weren’t the only golden releases to spin out of this banner year; Vacheron Constantin was also celebrating its 222nd anniversary in gleaming, sophisticated style.
The Maison wanted to commemorate this numerically significant milestone, and turned to German artist Jörg Hysek for inspiration. And his remarkable ‘Reference 44018’, daring and dazzling, would steer the brand into the world of “sporty-chic” watches.
Several different designs were proposed by Hysek. But the 18-karat gold timepiece, with its 37mm monobloc case, prominent fluted bezel and ultra-thin movement (that measured barely 3mm), was the brand’s unanimous choice. This year, to mark 45 years since that milestone, the watchmaker has reissued the famous ‘222’ — bringing us an updated interpretation of the legendary model as part of the ‘Historiques’ collection.
The original, decades-old design may crystallise the spirit of the 1970s, but a handful of subtle, choice changes refine the reissue. Calibre ‘2455/2’ delivers enhanced precision, and its oscillating weight has been specifically developed for this model; engraved with the original ‘222’ logo and surrounded with a fluted motif that resembles the watch’s bezel. The caseback has also been openworked to reveal the calibre’s intricate workings.
The finishes, too, marginally differ from the original model. The crown and bracelet are vertical-satin-brushed, the mainplate is circular-grained and the hour markers are highly polished. The hand-chamfered gear trains and bridges have even been adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif — parallel, wavy streaks, machined into the metal.
On its dial, you’ll see the same ‘Automatic’ inscription as the original, printed in a vintage Vacheron Constantin font. There’s also a date window slightly more offset from the outer rim of the dial (to enhance legibility), and lashings of Super-LumiNova coating the hands and hour-markers — off-white by day, but glowing lime green come nightfall.
Add to that a re-engineered bracelet with invisible pins, increased comfort credentials and a triple-blade clasp, and we’ve got a watch more than worthy of wearing the esteemed ‘222’ name. And for the final flourish? The brand’s distinctive Maltese cross emblem, handsomely adorning the tonneau-shaped case at 5 o’clock and putting Vacheron Constantin’s luxurious, steadfast stamp on this rekindled piece of history.
Vacheron Constantin’s ‘Historiques 222’
Want more watches? The six best winter watches from Grand Seiko — and where to wear them…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.