Last week, in a New York City revelling in the build up to a long Memorial Day weekend, Vacheron Constantin’s CEO Juan-Carlos Torres introduced the new Overseas World Time. The official launch on the New York High Line – an elevated park on a disused rail-line above the über-fashionable Meatpacking District – involved 300 invited guests who were also treated to the first view of half-a-dozen original photographs inspired by the 2016 Overseas collection.

Shot by Steve McCurry, a renowned editorial photojournalist who is perhaps best known for his 1984 National Geographic cover photograph Afghan Girl, the pictorial journey takes the form of a set of 12 images depicting far flung landscapes and featuring anonymous human subjects. The first six images to be revealed are of the Vacheron Constantin manufacture in Geneva, the Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque in Mexico, the Beaux-Arts building of Grand Central Terminal, the 71m-high Leshan Giant Buddha in China, and the intricate Chand Baori stepwell in India.

Taking account of ancient and modern structures (and everything in between) as well as the people who inhabit them, McCurry gives a beautiful and ethereal glimpse of life around the globe that highlights, to perfection, the purpose of a world time watch. The whole idea of travel was expanded further, when international guests of Vacheron Constantin were given the opportunity to “trial” the Overseas collection while traversing US states by helicopter, motor yacht (the same one used way back when to host Madonna’s 30th birthday celebrations and to house Harrison Ford during the filming of The Mosquito Coast in 1986) and a series of classic cars including a Shelby AC Cobra, Pontiac Firebird, Ford Mustang and 1956 Porsche 550 Spider, as well as a 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350.

The unanimous verdict on the World Time – as well as the Automatic, Ultra-Thin, Chronograph and Small models that we got to road test (and the gorgeous Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar (PC) that we didn’t, as it remained firmly on the wrist of the PC-loving CEO) – was that it is set to be a winner for the 2016 collection.

The arrival of the new watches marks the end of a very long road. Realising that riding out any impending dip in the market would take more than the success of the Patrimony collection, Vacheron decided to revisit an old friend and make 2016 the year of the Overseas. Referring to the decision to revamp the collection, Vacheron Constantin’s Artistic Director Christian Selmoni says: “Based on the ref. 222, the first generation Overseas was launched in 1996 and the collection worked fine until 2004, when we decided to create the second generation Overseas and add more functions to the collection – a perpetual calendar, a dual time, and so on.

“Although this later generation Overseas model was very successful, it was more sporty and larger in style, which was fashionable in the 2000s. So, in 2012, we started to work on a refresh for the Overseas because we saw that we had improvements to make – the most obvious one being that we were still using some external movements, for example the Frédéric Piguet chronograph calibre. Vacheron Constantin’s strategy is to have 100 percent in-house movements for mechanical watches. The Overseas was the last model to be fitted with an in-house calibre and this involved a three-year development process.”

SIHH 2016 saw a bunch of innovations in refined designs, fresh calibres and new complications. But cleverly the brand saved the collection’s supermodel until now – repackaging its fabulous world-timer calibre in a new 43.5mm steel case that is just 12.6mm thick, anti-magnetic and water resistant to 150m.

The World Time has three different dial options in silver, blue, or brown translucent lacquer with a map of the northern hemisphere, a tinted sapphire disc providing day/night indication and an outer city ring featuring a full 37 different time zones (which are set via the crown). The watch is powered by Vacheron’s self-winding, in-house world timer Calibre 2460WT with rose-gold rotor. Made of 255 components and beating at 4Hz, the movement provides a 40-hour power reserve. And, if that added bit of quality assurance is a deal-breaker for you, then you will be relieved that the watch is Geneva Seal-certified, guaranteeing its beauty inside and out.

But perhaps the biggest unique selling point of the new Overseas collection is that, to fit into a world of whimsy and indecision, it comes complete with three different strap options and an ingenious quick release system for changing them at will. Never a huge fan of rubber straps, a day on the wrist with the new Overseas version has converted me, while the alligator-leather strap adds sophistication to an otherwise sporty timepiece. But the pièce de résistance is the accompanying bracelet with half Maltese cross-shaped polished and satin-brushed links. Years in development, the steel bracelet is one of the sharpest looking and most comfortable around, making a direct challenge to the other two industry leaders – the Nautilus and Royal Oak.

According to Selmoni: “We tried to make the new bracelet a mix of the earliest Overseas and the one from the 2000s. The challenge when revisiting a signature model is always to bring something new but not to totally break with the design that came before. So we improved it and made it more luxurious.”

Vacheron 2016 Overseas Steel Bracelet

And so the new Overseas is here and ready to take on the world. Good-looking, easy to wear and practical, Selmoni believes that the collection is more than fit for purpose: “For now, our job is complete,” he says. “But it was a hard road. If we look back to Vacheron Constantin watches of the past, we always did a lot at the same time – women’s watches, decorative watches, serious complications etc. As a result we don’t have an ‘iconic’ piece like Audemars Piguet does with the Royal Oak, so, when looking at products from a business point of view, we have to implement them in the style of Vacheron – this comes above the individual nature of the watches. So you expect them to be elegant, refined, balanced.

“It is not easy and the challenge with the new Overseas was to create something that embodies the Vacheron Constantin style while remaining a sports casual watch. That was the challenge and that is why we have incorporated finishes more usually associated with dress watches.”