The Watches & Wonders 2022 dust has settled, and it’s time to look at some of the event’s best releases. What were some of the most talked-about W&W debuts? We’ll also be looking at the potential appreciation and market value of these introductions and their predecessors.
The Story of the Vacheron Constantin 222
The spectacular return of the Vacheron Constantin 222 was the hottest release of this year’s Watches & Wonders. The new Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 will surely spark a renewed interested in this iconic luxury sports watch. As some of you know, the Vacheron Constantin 222 is part of an illustrious group of 1970s luxury sports watches. It all started with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in 1972, followed by the introduction of the Patek Philippe Nautilus in 1976. In that same year, IWC introduced their Genta-designed Ingenieur, which completed Gérald Genta’s iconic trio of luxury sports watches. The fourth legendary luxury sports watch, however, was the Vacheron Constantin 222, which some watch enthusiasts thought Genta had also designed. In reality, it was a young Jörg Hysek who created this remarkable Vacheron Constantin classic.
The Famous Jörg Hysek 222 Design
This watch is defined by its barrel-shaped case, remarkable bezel, and Vacheron Constantin’s famous Maltese Cross recessed into its case at the 5 o’clock position. Additionally, it features a beautifully integrated hexagonal-link bracelet that has a very distinct design. The bracelet and bezel truly define the watch and make it the icon it is today; they were the blueprint for the modern-day Vacheron Constantin Overseas. When looking at the current Overseas generation that was introduced in 2016, you can definitely see the similarities. This makes the 222 “Jumbo” not only relevant to the rise in popularity of luxury sports watches in the 1970s, but also to the popularity of the sought-after Overseas.
Vacheron Constantin produced the 222 in three sizes back in the seventies and eighties. The first was a women’s 24 mm, the second a mid-size 34 mm, and the third a “Jumbo” in 37 mm. The latter is the most popular and sought-after today. From 1977 until 1985, Vacheron Constantin produced roughly 700 pieces of the 37-mm 222 “Jumbo” in both stainless steel and 18K yellow gold, making it a rare timepiece. This, combined with the watch’s legendary status, make the staggering prices for the original 222 “Jumbo” on the Chrono24 marketplace perhaps less of a surprise. You’ll find prices between roughly $180,000 and $200,000. It’s a tremendous amount of money, but it’s still gentler on your bank account than the original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402A or Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700/1 – this might change in the coming months and years.
The new Historiques 222 is the perfect modern re-issue
This new re-issue looks a lot like the original Vacheron Constantin 222 “Jumbo” from the seventies. One difference, however, is that the new Historiques 222 is slightly thicker than the original watch. The 1977 version of the 222 was only 7 mm thick, while this new version is 7.95 mm thick. The reason for this is the welcome upgrade in the movement. Additionally, it features a sapphire crystal display case back that lets you see the movement in action. While the original watch was equipped with the slim caliber 1121, Vacheron Constantin chose to use their in-house automatic caliber 2455/2 for this new version. It has the advantage of a modern, higher frequency of 28,800 vph, comes with a quick-set date, and is beautifully finished. In terms of overall execution, the new 222 is a fantastic step up from the original timepiece. The case and bracelet look spectacular. Additionally, the lume on the hands and indices is also updated from tritium to Super-LumiNova for the new version. All in all, this is the perfect modern re-issue of a great classic.
With the release of the new Historiques 222, Vacheron Constantin is perfectly seizing the moment as it brings an iconic classic back into the spotlight of the watch industry. With the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A out of the picture, Vacheron is taking the opportunity to offer a classic release that many watch enthusiasts will be lusting after. Although the watch will only be available in 18-karat yellow gold, I am sure that demand for the brilliant new version of the 222 will be enormous. When it does come out in stainless steel, even more watch fans will certainly be all over Vacheron Constantin to get one.
The Future of the Vacheron Constantin 222 and Overseas
The re-issue of the 222 will be available for under $65,000, much more affordable than the original model. But will you be able to get one? The chances of that are very slim. Although the watch is not a limited edition, it will be produced in very limited numbers. As a result, you will probably see much higher prices for the new Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 once they are offered online. We will probably also see a rise in popularity and prices for the vintage 1970s model. I also expect an even bigger run on the current Vacheron Constantin Overseas: With the Vacheron Constantin 222 serving as an inspiration for the current Overseas, watch fans all over the globe will have yet another reason to lust after one of these modern luxury sports timepieces. With all of this happening, 2022 might very well become the year of Vacheron Constantin.