Time capsule: Steve McCurry’s horological odyssey
When Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin commissioned Steve McCurry to embark on a world tour of extraordinary man-made places, the photojournalist made Vacheron Constantin’s spectacular Plan-les-Ouates HQ in Geneva his first port of call. 'You find yourself facing this incredible shape, this architecture, this singular design that is also an authentic work of art, a concrete example of human genius,' McCurry says of his starting point.
The building’s metallic, futuristic profile was designed by Swiss deconstructivist architect Bernard Tschumi and completed in 2004. He designed the 7400 sq m complex to reflect the contemporary philosophy of the marque, which was established in 1755. Hence, its lightweight, elegant form.
As Vacheron Constantin’s creative director Christian Selmoni, says, 'We combine state-of-the-art techniques, technology and materials at the Plan-les-Ouates building, yet any watch we make must exemplify Vacheron’s style, elegance and tradition – not just in the things you see but also with the more complex, intangible things that you can only feel.'
McCurry spent days and nights at the Vacheron campus, documenting its working life with a series of remarkable images. 'I have never been in a place that crafted luxury watches so it was kind of a miracle to witness it – to see how watches are created, to watch the people working on them, and to experience such an intriguing environment,' he explains. 'The creative process was very interesting; it was a life experience.'
In asking McCurry to take a global view, Vacheron wanted to embody the spirit of travel celebrated in its new Overseas collection of watches. Corresponding to the 12 hours on the watch dial, he chose to immortalise 12 exceptional and occasionally inaccessible locations.
The National Geographic photographer shot cowboys in Padre Tembleque, Mexico, captured the serenity of boat men at the Tsurunoyu Onsen hot springs in Japan and snapped first light commuters at Grand Central Station, New York. At Plan-les-Ouates, he found 'the perfect match between beauty and precision'.