Vacheron Constantin 222
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Vacheron Constantin 222

Let's get one thing out of the way first: the Vacheron Constantin 222 was not designed by Gerald Genta, but his influence on it is unmistakable. 

One can't consider "luxury sports watches" without examining Genta's contribution to the genre--in fact, one can say that he single-handedly created it with the Royal Oak, which he designed for Audemars Piguet.

Genta penned the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet's Italian market, at the behest of the brand's managing director Georges Golay. Golay foresaw a place in the watch market for a sporty steel watch with unprecedented looks. When the Royal Oak was released in 1972, there was nothing else like it available commercially. 

In terms of success, the Royal Oak was a sleeper in that it languished in boutiques for two years before seeing notoriety on the wrist of Fiat's chief, Giovanni Agnelli. After that, the Royal Oak proved to be such a star in the world of watches that it's inspired other brands to release their own particular flavor of luxury sports watch. While the Nautilus by Patek Philippe and the Ingenieur by IWC--along with the Royal Oak--are the best known of all of these, the most elusive (and mysterious) is the 222 by Vacheron Constantin.

Vacheron Constantin released the 222 in 1977, the manufacture's 222nd anniversary. For the distinctive design Vacheron Constantin leaned on a young maverick designer in their stable by the name of Jorg Hysek. However, for many years Hysek's contribution was obscured in favor of Genta--even by Vacheron Constantin executives themselves.

Genta, for himself, obliquely acknowledged Vacheron's attribution of the 222's design to him, saying that he was "flattered" at being mentioned "in conjunction with products." 

Still, regardless of whether Genta directly designed the 222 or not, it owes much to the Royal Oak. The 222 bears a thin, angular case (with an integrated bracelet, similar to the Royal Oak) which was released in a variety of sizes (from the "jumbo" 37mm to the 31mm model featured here) and case shapes (like the square featured here). The 222 saw production in limited numbers--500 in steel, 100 in 18k gold, and 120 in gold and stainless steel--before it was discontinued in 1985, making it exceedingly rare.

Internally, the 222 is powered by the Calibre 920 (which Vacheron-Constantin re-designated as the VC 1120). Produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Cal. 920 was also used by Patek Philippe in the Nautilus and by Audemars Piguet in the Royal Oak. Introduced in 1967, this ultra-thin calibre is the only one to have been used by all of the "Big Three" watch manufactures (but, oddly enough, never by the manufacture that created it). 

This particular 222 comes to us from a very good friend of the Analog/Shift team, and is undeniably special. Complete with box and papers, it's been lovingly preserved and hardly worn. Beyond the mystique, it's a veritable time capsule worthy of serious consideration for the lover of 1970s sports designs. Please contact us for more information and pricing on this remarkable piece!

Details

Stainless steel case is approximately 31 x 31mm. Reference 222. Vacheron Constantin Calibre VC 1120 Self-Winding Movement. Circa late 1970s.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case with integrated bracelet is in excellent condition with only the slightest signs of "shop wear" consistent with careful handling. Dial is in likewise excellent condition with fine even patination to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Vacheron Constantin signed crown. Vacheron Constantin case back with 222 engraving is in very good condition.

Also includes inner box, customer service pouch, certificate of origin, and extract from the archives.

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