Vacheron Constantin 46003 'Midsize 222'Sold
Vacheron Constantin 46003 'Midsize 222'
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The Swiss watch industry experienced an important revolution in the 1970s with the introduction of an entirely new category of watches: the stainless steel luxury sports watch with integrated bracelets. The Gerald Genta designed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak that was released in 1972 was the progenitor of them all. Patek and IWC followed in 1976 with the Nautilus and the Ingenieur SL, both designed by Genta as well. Vacheron Constantin followed suit in 1977 with the introduction of the ‘222’ to celebrate the company’s 222nd birthday.
Unlike the earlier three brands, Vacheron Constantin skipped Gerald Genta and turned to Jörg Hysek, an up and coming designer, to design this new watch. Hysek employed the same basic design language: an ultra-thin cushion shaped steel case with broad shoulders and an integrated flat-link bracelet with large geometric center links. The distinctive serrated screw-down bezel and stamped Maltese cross on the lower-right corner of the case, however, clearly set the design apart from its Genta-designed older cousins.
The 222 was produced for just seven years and came out in three sizes: a ‘Jumbo’ version in 37 mm and a smaller execution in 34 mm, both powered by an automatic movement, as well as a smaller quartz-powered ladies version. Recent estimates indicate that, among the desirable automatic varieties, fewer than 1,000 of the mid-size version were produced and around 700 of the large version. The production numbers were divided among steel, two-tone, yellow gold, and white gold executions.
This exquisite mid-size model is executed in stainless steel and 18k yellow gold. The matching champagne dial injects a warm and luxurious sheen and features hour markers, hands, a Maltese cross logo, and date window border executed in 18k yellow gold as well. Internally, the 222 sports the same ultra-thin Jaeger-LeCoultre automatic movement as the original Nautilus and Royal Oak.
Due to the long-running interest in 1970s sports watches and the recent re-introduction of the 222, these original vintage models have experienced a surge in interest from collectors which is beginning to be reflected in the prices as well. In other words, if there’s a moment to get on the 222 train, today’s the day!