Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire’s weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.
We love to think of the 1970s as the decade that style forgot. But the ’70s beg to differ. The disco decade witnessed the transition from the sartorial certainties of the old-boy network to the elegant, casual possibilities of ready-to-wear. Things got sexy as designer brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani took fashion out of the couture atelier and onto the street. At the same time, in watchmaking, storied brands shook off the gentlemanly trappings of the dress watch and began to play with modern expressions of sporty luxury, like with the groundbreaking Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (1972) and the Patek Philippe Nautilus (1976).
In 1977, Vacheron Constantin was 222 years old. It could have marked that milestone with a gold pocket watch. Instead, it created the 222, a watch that oozed ’70s sex appeal. Now the 222 is back—and it’s one of the best releases of the year. The new watch is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the original. Same 37mm diameter. Same blocky case. Same slinky integrated bracelet (a piece of consummate engineering in itself). Only the eagle-eyed or the true watch nerd will catch a slightly shifted date window or a modern automatic movement. And fans of the chunkier Vacheron Constantin Overseas collection, launched in 1996, will notice a clear through line back to this innovative watch. In all, the 222, which weighs in at a hefty $69,000 (there’s a lot of gold in there, plus gorgeous finishing and Vacheron Constantin know-how), is confirmation that the ’70s weren’t the decade that style forgot. They were a purple patch of forward-thinking design, taste, and wearability. And now that we’re getting smash-hit reeditions like the 222, there’s a good chance we’ll see more-affordable watches taking its style cues before long. Time will tell.
Historiques 222 watch ($69,000) by Vacheron Constantin; Jacket by Atelier Cillian.
This article appeared in the SEPTEMBER 2022 issue of Esquire