Don’t look so surprised! You already knew exactly which watches would go head to head in this week’s Sunday Morning Showdown. The Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 was probably the watch that was most frequently mentioned after Piaget released its new Polo 79 this week. And it makes sense. They’re both based on an earlier version from the ’70s. Both watches have a so-called “integrated bracelet” design and are made out of 18K yellow gold. Even their (completely random) list prices are very similar at just over €80,000. But get yourself ready to vote because, despite all of these similarities, today, only one of them can win.

This week, it was Thomas and Daan’s turn to pick sides. Thomas has visited the Vacheron Constantin manufacture, so he feels a bit more compassion for that brand. Daan is always looking at vintage Piaget gems on the forums and Chrono24, so that’s why both knew exactly which watch to defend. But before we get into this week’s battle, let’s take a look at what happened last week.

The confrontation of the Tanks

It was a  face-off between two tanks — Cartier Tanks, that is. In one corner, we had the Tank Louis Cartier, and in the other was the Tank Must SolarBeat. It was a battle between “the King of Tanks” and the modern iteration of the Tank for the masses. One has a rose gold case and a hand-wound mechanical movement, while the other is made out of stainless steel and is powered by sunlight. From the comments, it was clear that many people still thought the Tank Louis Cartier was the Tank of all Tanks. But there were certainly also a lot of people who appreciated the practicality of having a solar-powered movement. After all the votes, this match ended in a draw! Let’s see if we’ll get such a well-balanced result from today’s battle…

Daan: Piaget Polo 79

I think that I also speak for you here, Thomas, when I say that today’s showdown is a completely fictitious one for us. In real life, we will probably never have to choose between these two watches. They’re simply too expensive, and we will probably never be offered an opportunity to buy either one. Nevertheless, the watch hobby is one in which one can dream. And if I had to choose between these two watches in my dream world, I’d go for the Piaget Polo 79 straight away. I mean, the VC 222 is a beautiful watch and all, but the Polo’s design is so much more original.

The 222 has a classic integrated bracelet, and its very slim design and the 37mm case with the bold bezel on top look magnificent. But the Polo doesn’t merely have an “integrated bracelet” design — it is also actually a bracelet first and foremost. It almost even looks like the watch face was planted on top as an afterthought.

That is, of course, not the case, but the fact that those gadroons continue right through the case is a much bolder move than simply putting a notched bezel on top of the case. And then there’s the issue I have with that date window on the modern 222.

Original on the left, reissue on the right

No date, please

Like the reissue, the original 222s from the ’70s used to have a date window at 3 o’clock. I would have preferred a no-date version, but at least that date window was well-aligned. It started right at the edge of the minute track and ended there, and you could draw a straight line between the hour markers above and below it. However, on the reimagined 222, the date window is much more toward the center of the dial. I suppose it’s good that it has a nicely executed frame, at least. But that random position on the dial is inexcusable.

No, in that case, I much prefer the Polo 79’s dial design without any date window whatsoever. It looks so much cleaner and doesn’t take your attention away from that magnificent construction. There have indeed been Polo models in the past with day and date windows. But even those were well done, with a date window at 12 and a day window at 6 o’clock. Everything kept the design in balance. But I certainly applaud Piaget’s decision not to feature a date window on the Polo 79, especially when seeing how it could’ve gone wrong, like on the 222’s dial.

Unlike anything else

Finally, we get to the question of what you get for that outrageous amount of money. I think we can all agree that both these list prices come from somewhere completely out of the blue. To be honest, if I were to spend a little over €80.000, I would want my watch to not look like any other watch out there. Although the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 does look quite nice, it also looks a bit more conventional.

By contrast, the Piaget Polo 79 doesn’t look like anything else other than its predecessor from the ’70s. It’s bold and clearly shows the craftsmanship that has gone into the construction of that beautiful case and bracelet. It’s much more of a statement in comparison to the fairly modest-looking 222. And isn’t that what you want when you spend this kind of money on a watch? All right, Thomas, over to you. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Vacheron Constantin

Thomas: Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222

Thanks, Daan! Indeed, both watches are very impressive. Both also, indeed, live outside of our universe. Still, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 feels like a watch that I would wear if I had access to it. The Piaget Polo 79, as cool as I think it is, doesn’t look like something I would rock. I am not overly interested in comparing calibers or specs here. As you imply, you are not paying for that with either of these watches. What you are paying for is a big, bold, gold statement. So let me get into the more relevant aesthetic differences that push me toward the 222.

For starters, I think you will quickly get bored with the Piaget. Don’t get me wrong; it is very cool. The issue is that the entire watch is made up of, essentially, one design idea. Granted, that idea is neat and very cohesively executed, but it does just one thing. This makes the watch recognizable and easy on the eye. Unfortunately, it also renders it rather one-dimensional. You could show someone a single square centimeter of this watch, and they could draw the entire thing, perfectly extrapolating the rest of the design.

The Vacheron 222, on the other hand, is more intricate. It strikes that rare balance of looking simple while being deceptively complex in its shapes. This, I feel, will keep you interested for much longer. There is more to discover, and it will grow on you over time. I agree that the date window was in a better position before, but it isn’t overly jarring if you don’t see the old and new versions side by side.

The Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222 over the Piaget Polo 79 in style

We could get into the nitty-gritty of design, Daan; you know how much I love to do that. The issue here, I feel, is bigger. It is more a matter of an overall design philosophy. What are both watches trying to say? And what kind of message does wearing each express?

The Piaget, in my humble opinion, is more jewelry-esque. You describe it as a bracelet, and I agree. Now, tell me, Daan: would you wear a 200g yellow gold bracelet? The subtleties in the 222’s design ensure that it is, at its core, an impressive wristwatch. It is a bold statement watch in gold, sure. Nevertheless, it exudes Haute Horlogerie.

The Piaget Polo 79, on the other hand, exudes fashion. It is a fashion statement more than a horological statement. And that, to me, makes it less cool.

Cast your vote!

Okay, there we have it — two literal heavyweights in yellow gold going head to head. Which is your favorite? Are you Team Piaget or Team Vacheron? Cast your vote below, and share your motivations in the comments!

Piaget Polo 79 vs. Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222