Steve McCurry shot to photographic fame in 1985 when his portrait of Sharbat Gula, known as Afghan Girl, graced the cover of National Geographic. Since then, the intrepid photojournalist has ventured into war zones and places of great natural wonder, capturing moments that are beautiful, poignant and always striking. 

For Vacheron Constantin, the synergies between McCurry’s work and the brand’s raison d’être seemed obvious. Vacheron Constantin is committed to tracking the passing of time, while McCurry preserves moments in time. The values that drive McCurry—discipline, patience, creativity, movement and an openness to the world— are also those that have driven Vacheron Constantin over its 260-year history.

So when it came to promoting the brand’s new Overseas collection of watches designed for modern travellers, a collaboration with McCurry seemed the perfect fit. Vacheron Constantin commissioned McCurry to immortalise photographically 12 remote and dramatic locations.

The images you see here are the fruit of his odyssey through India, China, Japan, the US, Switzerland and Mexico. “I respond to a situation, action or sight that inspires me,” says McCurry. “I hope that other people will be as moved by these scenes as I was and that my pictures will stand the test of time.”

Chand Baori Stepwell, India 

Located in Abhaneri, Rajasthan, this ancient stepwell reminded McCurry of the graphic work of the Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, who played with lines to create optical illusions. “The Indian women we met there appeared to be lost amid the vastness of the monument,” says the photographer.

Grand Central Station, New York 

Each day, millions of travellers pass through this railway station in an uninterrupted choreography, but McCurry was able to spend a whole night there with Vacheron Constantin’s team. “We had the entire station to ourselves, as if in a waking dream,” says McCurry.

Leshan Biant Buddha, China 

A single saffron-clad figure reveals the scale of this colossal, 71-metre-high Buddha, which has towered over the Min River in Sichuan Province for 13 centuries. Hewn out of the rock between AD 713 and 803, it was created to protect sailors braving the rushing water at the confluence of the Dadu and Min rivers. 

Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque, Mexico 

Designed to carry water through the Mexican desert, this 16th-century aqueduct is a stunning feat of engineering. Melding the European tradition of Roman hydraulics and the technology of pre-Columbian civilisations, it stretches 45 kilometres from Zempoala to Otumba. “You fully grasp the visual strength of this aqueduct when you realise that it was built over 500 years ago with absolutely perfect symmetry,” says McCurry. “I see it as a work with a poetic structure, placed right in the middle of nowhere.” 

Tsurunoyu, Japan 

“This was one of the most inspirational locations on my photographic journey,” says McCurry. “When we arrived there, it had been snowing for three days. Everything was shrouded in a mantle of white, as if in a dream.”

(Text by Madeleine Ross; Photo by Steve McCurry/Vacheron Constantin)

Tags: Travel, Vacheron Constantin, Steve McCurry