The Australian - Wish Magazine - - NEW WATCHES - STORY AN­DREW MCUTCHEN

Liv­ing the dream is a phrase overused to a point of mean­ing­less­ness. But make no mis­take, Chris Hemsworth is liv­ing the dream. We meet on a yacht in Port Her­cules, Monaco, hosted by TAG Heuer. It is to be our home for the next few nights as the Monaco For­mula 1 takes place on the streets that run right by the boat. When qual­i­fy­ing be­gins, the scene on deck is an odd mix of Dunkirk – with high-oc­tane en­gines whin­ing around the boat like a swarm of Spit­fires – and Ocean’s Eleven, tak­ing into ac­count the in­tim­i­dat­ing savoir faire of other guests on the boat, a mix of global in­flu­encers and lux­ury life­style me­dia. The glam­our is height­ened by the pres­ence of Matt Da­mon and his wife Lu­ciana, guests of Hemsworth, whose wife Elsa is also join­ing him for this lit­tle so­journ.

There’s a slightly rogue at­mos­phere around the group who are kid-free and off the leash. “I can’t re­mem­ber the last time this hap­pened,” Da­mon says at one point with a big smile on his face. We’re farm­ing through canapés in the TAG Heuer Lodge, a cor­po­rate box of sorts with mag­nif­i­cent views over the track and up the steep hills of Monaco. “Chris just called and said, do you want to come to Monaco with Lu­ciana? He said Elsa was join­ing him. The tim­ing was right, so I said ab­so­lutely.”

The en­tourage also in­cludes Hemsworth’s per­sonal trainer, a buff rooster of a young lad with sleeve tatts and a taste for spir­its. On the shut­tle boat be­tween the TAG Heuer yacht and the lodge, after pat­ting him­self down for sev­eral min­utes, he an­nounces that he has lost his phone from the night be­fore. Da­mon and Hemsworth help him re­trace his steps. It re­ally is all hap­pen­ing.

It’s no won­der Hemsworth, 34, trav­els with his trainer – his physique is prac­ti­cally his per­sonal brand th­ese days. Be­cause, well, Thor. The role he now owns as the ul­ti­mate Marvel mus­cle-man has been a game, life and lo­ca­tion changer for Hemsworth. “Hav­ing the Marvel films speck­led through­out my ca­reer keeps putting you back in the game, you can make riskier choices, but it still gives you the free­dom to say no from time to time.”

But with great roles comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity and you get the sense, from the out­side, that be­ing a su­per­hero over an ex­tended pe­riod per­vades ev­ery minute of ev­ery day; the only time over the jaunt he is spot­ted eat­ing, it’s a plate piled high with beef carpac­cio on race day. Very Thor, ac­tu­ally.

The reg­u­lar­ity of the Thor-re­lated Marvel movies has de­liv­ered some se­ri­ous up­side in terms of life­style. It has meant that Hemsworth can move his fam­ily home to Aus­tralia, where they have set­tled on a 4.2ha prop­erty just out­side of By­ron Bay, on the north coast of NSW. The eight-bed­room, 11-bath­room prop­erty, pur­chased for $7 mil­lion three years ago, is un­der­go­ing a ren­o­va­tion cost­ing more than the orig­i­nal pur­chase price – which means Hemsworth is in Aus­tralia to stay for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

The ne­go­ti­a­tion about leav­ing L.A with Span­ish wife Elsa Pataky, 41, who is also an ac­tor best known for her char­ac­ter Elena Neves in the Fast and Fu­ri­ous fran­chise, was brief and con­flict-free: “There was a pe­riod when I had to be there, just purely to be knock­ing on doors and go­ing to au­di­tions and meet­ings,” he says. “But when I’d got my foot in the door and I didn’t need to be there ev­ery day we very quickly made the de­ci­sion to come back home. And my wife, be­ing from Spain, loves Aus­tralia ob­vi­ously – it wasn’t much of a con­ver­sa­tion. Maybe that will change down the road, but presently we have the lux­ury to travel back and forth. That’s al­ways been the dream for me, to work around the world, but still call Aus­tralia home and come back and have my kids grow up there, in par­tic­u­lar on the beaches in north­ern NSW where we are now.”

You es­tab­lish quickly that fa­ther­hood is a core part of Hemsworth’s iden­tity. He has three chil­dren with Pataky, whom he mar­ried after a whirl­wind courtship in 2010; one daugh­ter, In­dia Rose and twin sons Tris­tan and Sash. De­spite his and Da­mon’s cur­rent free­dom – which the whole en­tourage is tak­ing ad­van­tage of to the ab­so­lute fullest – many of his anec­dotes in­clude his chil­dren. They are clearly on his mind all the time. His jour­ney as a dad is em­i­nently re­lat­able.

“It’s all about you be­fore kids,” he says. “And then you have chil­dren and you still try to hang on to that, you say ‘I am who I am’. And then it goes out the win­dow. A lot of my de­ci­sions now are based on how things are go­ing to af­fect the fam­ily. What’s the lo­ca­tion the film shoots in? If it’s some ob­scure, not so at­trac­tive place, do I want to drag the fam­ily there for four months? And then there’s the ques­tion of what the role’s go­ing to

“That’s al­ways been the dream for me, to work around the world, but still call Aus­tralia home.”

do to me. Is it go­ing to put my head in a space that’s pretty con­sum­ing? There are times [a role comes up] when I say, maybe not that one yet.”

You have to ap­plaud TAG Heuer for its choice of Hemsworth as an am­bas­sador, and also its tim­ing in choos­ing him, which was right be­fore he crested the Hol­ly­wood wave as a bona fide A-List megas­tar. With all due re­spect, the bet­ter ques­tion is: why did he choose TAG Heuer?

“I just think they’re the best-look­ing watches out there,” he says, with none of the mar­ket­ing may­on­naise ap­plied. “Ev­ery watch has an in­cred­i­ble amount of de­tail and class. I grew up see­ing TAG Heuer on peo­ple’s wrists, I guess I al­ways wanted one. It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re wear­ing shorts and a T-shirt, or a suit on the red car­pet, you can wear them with any­thing.”

He’s not wrong. My first aware­ness of a “good watch” was, to put a fine point on it, a TAG Heuer For­mula 1, at se­condary school. The con­nec­tion be­tween TAG Heuer and Aus­tralia is sur­pris­ingly deep. The com­pany’s bou­tique in Syd­ney is its high­est­gross­ing in the world, per square me­tre.

As far as watch wear­ers go, there are sev­eral cat­e­gories. Those who want watches for pur­pose: dress, week­end, fit­ness. Hemsworth iden­ti­fies strongly with the “one-watch” cat­e­gory, who are seek­ing one good watch that can han­dle what­ever is thrown at it: whether that’s a 200kg dead­lift at the gym (surely just a warmup for Thor) or the Os­cars. “Hav­ing op­tions is al­ways good, but for me the beauty of TAG Heuer watches is that they’re ver­sa­tile,” he says.

He prof­fers the Heuer-O2T in rose gold for in­spec­tion and claims it to be just such a watch. “I wear this one surf­ing, I wear it to the gym.” The horo­log­i­cal geek in­side me starts hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing at the thought that a model with a tour­bil­lon – the king of all watch com­pli­ca­tions, de­signed to coun­ter­act the ef­fects of grav­ity by ro­tat­ing the es­cape­ment and bal­ance wheel in a cage – could ever be worn in the waves. But, it’s so del­i­cate! But, it’s gold! For the love of Mary, it’s a tour­bil­lon!

“But,” an imag­i­nary Hemsworth in­ter­rupts my in­te­rior mono­logue, “I’m Thor, I’m a TAG Heuer am­bas­sador, and if any­one can wear a tour­bil­lon in the break off Bro­ken Head, it’s me.”

“A watch should match your life­style,” the real Hemsworth cuts in. “And when I’m home, mine is based around the beach. Head­ing down when­ever it’s on, tak­ing the kids out. They’re hav­ing a lot more fun in Aus­tralia than they were in the States, I can tell you that.”

And there you go, we cir­cle back to kids yet again. It’s at about this time that Matt Da­mon, who is nearby, over­hears that I have three daugh­ters un­der three and a teenage step­daugh­ter. As it hap­pens, this is a mir­ror of Da­mon’s own fam­ily, only my daugh­ters are a few years younger than his, with about the same age gap. “Oh man, you’re in the blur.” He says, shak­ing his head. He leans over to his wife and says, “He’s like Chris, he’s in the blur!” be­fore ex­plain­ing the con­cept. “The blur, man. You’ll feel like it’s end­less, it’s eter­nal, and then one day, you’ll wake up and you’ll have your life back. It will be over. Lu­ciana now gets clucky when she sees ba­bies. She misses the blur. That will hap­pen too.”

Hemsworth, lis­ten­ing, smiles warmly – he has this un­canny Fa­ther Christ­mas-like twin­kle when he smiles, by the way – but it’s a mo­ment of pause, not just mirth. With Port Her­cules be­hind us form­ing a glit­ter­ing back­drop, we are in re­flec­tive, deeper waters again. Asked what kind of a le­gacy he’d like to leave as a dad, we hap­pen upon a sweet spot and he con­tin­ues to elab­o­rate as the topic un­rolls. “It’s just to be present. It’s so easy to be dis­tracted.

“I feel like when you look around th­ese days ev­ery sec­ond per­son’s got their head in their phone. Your own kids are say­ing ‘Dad, look at this’, and you’re like ‘Yeah, that’s cool’,” he says, pre­tend­ing to wave his kid away with his head bent over an imag­i­nary phone. “I’m guilty of it too at times, but lately I’m mak­ing a real ef­fort to just put the thing away. We turn around and com­plain all the time that they don’t sit still, but what kind of ex­am­ple are we set­ting? We’re all guinea pigs in the gen­er­a­tion of the iPhone and I think we’ve all got to start pay­ing at­ten­tion to what the rip­ple ef­fect is.

“Now, I choose an hour or two of the day where I need to look at it, but not be 24 hours a day on call and just be with them. Be­cause you think they’re not pay­ing at­ten­tion but they do, you have a close look – they look up and they say, oh you’re busy again, it must be work. And that breaks my heart. My dream would be for them to talk about me as a par­ent one day and say that he was al­ways there, he played with us, he was present, he lis­tened, he paid at­ten­tion.”

“Ev­ery watch has an in­cred­i­ble amount of de­tail and class. I guess I al­ways wanted one.”

Chris Hemsworth, his wife Elsa Pataky and their three chil­dren live on four hectares in By­ron Bay, north­ern NSW, where he surfs in a rose gold Car­rera Heuer-O2T.

The TAG Heuer Car­rera Cal­i­bre Heuer 01 Chrono­graph

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