In 1972, Audemars Piguet shook the watch world by introducing the Royal Oak, a premium-priced steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet and “porthole” styling. Designed by Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak provided a template for other Swiss luxury watch makers to follow. He went on to design similar watches for Patek Philippe (the Nautilus) and IWC (the "Jumbo" Ingenieur SL).
Vacheron Constantin followed the same basic template for their “project 222”, introduced in 1977. Young designer Jörg Hysek created a very similar design, complete with screws from the caseback to the bezel “sandwiching” the case for water and shock resistance and an integrated bracelet of flat links. The Vacheron model aped the Royal Oak with an extremely flat case thanks to the ultra-thin Jaeger-LeCoultre-derived Cal. 1120, the same basic movement also used by Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. The Ref. 222 featured a scalloped bezel, a plain dial with baton markers, and the distinctive Maltese Cross at lower right on the case. It was available in 37 mm, 34 mm, and 25 mm (quartz) versions (as well as a square-case variant) through the mid-1980s.