The Carrera is one of the watch world’s most famous models and in 2018, TAG Heuer celebrates its 55th anniversary with a range of new models and worldwide events, including a recent function in Australia.

TAG Heuer’s ongoing celebration of the 55th anniversary of its iconic Carrera model in 2018 reached Australia recently when brand ambassador and local hero Chris Hemsworth launched the Museum in Motion Exhibition in Sydney.

Held during the Vivid light festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Hemsworth was the star attraction at an event which mixed historically significant timepieces from the TAG Heuer museum at its headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, with some of the latest iterations of the famous Carrera line. The Thor star also sported a bespoke Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 with skeleton blue dial on the night, the production of which he collaborated on with the brand to realise. The piece was later auctioned on the night with proceeds donated to Hemsworth’s long-term charity, the Australian Childhood Foundation.

Much of TAG Heuer’s activity this year serves as a tribute to one of the most famous models in its collection, a watch first designed by Jack Heuer and introduced at the Basel Fair in 1963. Inspired by motorsport instruments and conceived as a tribute to the famous Carrera Panamericana rally of the 1950s, that first reference featured a 36mm stainless steel case, elongated lugs and a clean dial for easy reading of the chronograph.

“I had just finished my University degree and I was very much into modern architects like Charles Eames, so I wanted a very clean dial,” Heuer has recalled about his initial design for the Carrera. To help achieve that end, Heuer famously placed the second scale with the 1/5-second divisions on the flange rather than directly onto the dial, an industry first which established the piece’s design DNA from that day forward.

Many of TAG Heuer’s new releases at this year’s Baselworld fair demonstrated the evolution of Heuer’s initial design, including the Carrera Heuer 02 GMT Chronograph, TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon ‘Tête de Vipère Chronometer and TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph. There was also the pre-fair launch of a new Heuer 02 calibre manufacture movement. It powers the flagship TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 chronograph, sporting a 43mm case with tachymeter bezel, now-familiar skeletonised dial and rearrangement of the chrono subdials into the original 3-6-9 layout.

“When it came to designing the new TAG Heuer Carrera, we were faced with a choice between a vintage-inspired piece and a modern reworking,” said TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver. “We opted for the latter. At TAG Heuer, all of our energy goes into designing the watches of the future. 

“The Heuer Carrera era was when the brand really took off, becoming the first watchmaking sponsor in the world of motor racing. This move – a true stroke of genius – was followed by numerous brands, and its success continues today, some 50 years later.”

Key vintage timepieces displayed during the Australian exhibition included the original Heuer Carrera design by Jack Heuer, the Heuer Carrera Dato Compax Calibre Valijoux 723 chronograph with the full calendar, and the 1973 Heuer Carrera Calibre 15 featuring a vintage brown dial. Contemporary timepieces from the range included the Calibre 16, Calibre Heuer 01 and Calibre Heuer 02 Tourbillon.

The 155-piece TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon ‘Tête de Vipère Chronometer was perhaps the highlight of the display. ‘Tete de Vipere’ (‘head of the viper’) is a metrological guarantee of precision and excellence bestowed by Besançon Observatory.

Bearing all the design hallmarks of the contemporary Carrera, this sleekly sporty chronometer is distinguished by its midnight blue ceramic case, ceramic bezel and lugs. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback is the TAG Heuer HEUER-02T calibre automatic chronograph movement with the cherished ‘Tête de Vipère’ stamp applied to the bridge.

While the modern Carreras may appear far more cutting-edge instruments, they in fact draw a long bead through time from Heuer’s 1963 original in terms of their sportiness, functionality and sleek design.