VIDEO: Five of our favourite Vacheron Constantin releases of 2022Zach Blass
Some may refer to Vacheron Constantin as the third member of the Swiss holy trinity of watchmaking. But after an incredibly strong showing last year, Vacheron may be the one you really need to explore. Here are five of our favourite releases from Vacheron Constantin in 2022.
First up, is the brand’s irrefutable conversation piece of last year: the Vacheron Constantin Overseas 222 Historiques. The 222, designed by Jorg Hysek, made its original debut in 1977 for the 22nd anniversary of the Vacheron Constantin manufacture. Its lauded design and pedigree propelled Hysek into the pantheon of legendary designers such as Gerald Genta, placing the watch on equal footing with the Royal Oak and Nautilus. As more and more collectors woke up to its significance, the original 222 began to go for top-dollar at auctions. So there was a clear demand for the 222 to make a return to the modern catalogue. And Vacheron did just that – with impeccable taste, I might add – in the form of a new monochromatic 18K 3N yellow-gold take on the 222.
Falling under the Historiques branch of the current catalogue, the contemporary revival is meticulously faithful to the original design – its aesthetic largely untouched. It carries the same stature as the original, clocking in at 37mm in diameter and 7.95mm in thickness, with a case depth rating of 50m. Really the only clear visual indicator that this is a 222 made in the modern era is its exhibition caseback, rather than the solid caseback found on vintage models. This enables you to see the well-decorated in-house calibre 2455/2, a departure from the JLC-based 1120 found in the original model. The 2455/2, while not record-breaking in power reserve, is ultimately what allows this stunning time and date watch to be as thin as it is.
While the 222 may have been the star of the show, the modern Overseas collection has drawn equal intrigue with a wide variety of aesthetics and complications to explore. A favourite of ours this past year was the 42.5mm Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton in titanium. The modern Overseas has a heavier emphasis on the Maltese cross motif than the 222, with the bezel and bracelet all shaped in homage to it – even the tourbillon carriage features the Maltese cross as well. Modern Overseas models are also widely favoured for their interchangeable strap systems, allowing you to swap between the bracelet and bundled strap quickly with ease. Gearheads will appreciate the superb openworking of the in-house 2160 SQ movement. It allows you to see Vacheron’s top-notch finishing skills, with openworked NAC-treated bridges linear brushed on their top-sides for a modern feel, and finely chamfered edges for a traditional touch.
Rounding out the Overseas highlights of the year is the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Skeleton in rose gold. A declared grail amongst many members of our team – Ricardo, Andrew, looking at you two – this requires very little explanation in regard to its appeal. The Maltese cross-themed lines and facets of the case and bracelet are that much more powerful in a rose-gold hue, and like the tourbillon, you can enjoy the finely decorated mechanics front and back at your leisure. Again, do I really need to elaborate on this one?
Vacheron Constantin, though, is no one-trick pony. Their enticing novelties extend beyond the Overseas framework. A showstopper we all drooled over at Watches & Wonders was the classic meets modern Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. It strikes vintage-inspired notes with its rosy-salmon dial, but speaks to the modern market with an oversized precious platinum case 43mm in diameter. Inside is the manufacture’s calibre 1142 QP, which is a souped-up take on the legendary Lemania 2310. utilised by brands such as Patek Philippe and Breguet, as well as being the basis for Omega’s lauded calibre 321. Of course, Vacheron has put their own stamp on the architecture, further developing the base to also include a perpetual calendar complication.
If you want to flex the true-might of Vacheron’s top-tier craftsmanship, the Metiers D’Art Civilisations collection brings Lourve calibre artistry to your wrist. Each of the four dials are painstakingly hand-crafted. The Darius the Great of Persia model displays a recreation of a carved frieze that stood at the gates of his palace in Susa, with vibrant orange and blue hues, as well as an applied and engraved White Gold lion figure that has been carefully patinated to create a sense of aging. The Sphinx of Egypt model utilises an engraved gold figure of the Sphinx, surrounded by intricately enamelled falcon wings. In tribute to ancient Greece, Vacheron has turned to the beauty and the power of the goddess Nike, with a headless engraved sculpture placed off-centre on the dial. Lastly, in tribute to Ancient Rome is an off-centre bust of Caesar Augustus. Surrounding it is a wonderfully colourful micro-mosaic, broken up by a dark grey central medallion with Latin text. Each of the watches display, through apertures, the jumping hours and minutes at the 11’ and 1’ position respectively, as well as the day and date at the 4’ and 8’ position respectively. If this collection is not the mic drop to round out our five favourites list of 2022, I do not know what is.