Eurovision Song Contest 2021 - Theme: Watches

After sadly being cancelled in 2020 everyone’s favourite guilty pleasure has now returned for its 2021 re-run in Rotterdam. “And what exactly is that guilty pleasure”? I hear you ask. Well, duh, the Eurovision Song Contest of course. “No chance, nuh-uh, not me, I don’t watch Eurovision”! Haha, please, you're telling me that you don’t secretly sit up until the early hours enjoying a bit of Ukrainian folk-techno, combined with the epicness of some crazy dude busting out a next level violin solo on a spinning plate? Yes, that really did happen.

This year’s Grand Final will be taking place on 22nd May 2021 and I for one can’t wait to enjoy Graham Norton’s top banter and see how the repercussions of Brexit will affect the UK’s chances of finishing with “nul points”.


But all joking aside, the entrants put their heart and soul into their performances and this year more than ever I think that the upbeat, energetic entertainment storm that is the Eurovision Song Contest is something that needs to be fully embraced and appreciated for what it truly is – a bit of fun. Lord only knows we need it right now (especially if you’ve spent the past year fighting over toilet paper that you spent the last hour queuing for).


“But what has all this got to do with watches”? Well, as a true watch enthusiast does whilst watching Eurovision, instead of judging each country by its wacky contestants I thought it may be more fun to judge them by the quality of watches that they have to offer. So lets have a look at what some of the Finalist countries have to offer in the world of watchmaking:


United Kingdom


Performer: James Newman – Song: Embers

UK watchmaker: Bremont Having recently p****d off the rest of the world with Brexit failures and Coronavirus mismanagement, the UK have actually managed to take part in this year’s Eurovision with James Newman bravely taking on the mammoth task of representation. I think that he deserves all the support he can get! Much like James, Bremont pride themselves on their British heritage and try their best to put the UK on the map within their field of expertise. For those of you who have never heard of Bremont before, they are a luxury aviation-themed British watchmaker with an annual production of less than 10,000 pieces. Bremont have always strived to play a pivotal role in the reinvigoration of British watchmaking, with their original mission statement being:


“To make exquisitely engineered mechanical timepieces on British soil with the lofty objective of reinvigorating the nation’s horological past, using our adventurous spirit, passion for detail, desire to innovate and dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction”.



This small company are really doing everything possible to bring serious, quality watchmaking back to the UK by designing, manufacturing and assembling all their watches within the UK. Even their packaging is handmade in Manchester.


They have collaborated with some of the best British engineering companies such as Martin-Baker, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar to ensure that their timepieces are constantly evolving and living up to their “tested beyond endurance” promise. I personally think that Bremont have a bright future ahead of them. At these early stages they are already making big splashes by ensuring superb quality in ways of watch elements such as; by adding 9 layers of anti-reflective coating to both sides of their sapphire crystals, using hardening technology to make their watch cases 7 times harder and more scratch-resistant than competitors and even including a 3-year guarantee on all of their watches. Heck even some of the big boys aren’t offering this much warranty *cough cough, Tag Heuer*. Watch this space!


Sweden


Performer: Tusse – Song: Voices


Swedish watchmaner: TRIWA


Whenever I think of Sweden, I think of 2 things. 1) IKEA, 2) the greatest Eurovision act of all time, ABBA. (P.S. Sorry Sweden, I know you have more to offer than that, I’m just uncultured). Who doesn’t like a bit of ABBA eh? Don’t deny it, I know you’re the first one up when Dancing Queen makes an appearance at your Nan’s birthday disco. But unfortunately, unlike ABBA, Sweden’s watchmaking reputation hasn’t really taken the world by storm but during my research I found a cracking Swedish watch company named TRIWA that may be one of the next best things to come out of Sweden. TRIWA is an acronym for Transforming the Industry of Watches and this little company is doing just that! Their mission is to change the way that we view watches – away from traditional status symbols and more towards modern statement symbols. With this in mind, the company designs their watches based on current issues of our modern time.

Currently TRIWA have 2 major collections that are hitting this remit and they are the Time for Oceans range and the Time for Peace range.



The Time for Oceans range stemmed from TRIWA’s desire to raise awareness for the oceans’ critical health and to become a part of the solution. So to achieve this they decided to create the world’s first watch collection made entirely from recycled ocean plastic. MAMMA MIA! Brilliant, right? But wait, it gets better.


Their Time for Peace range sends out an equally as strong message with the intent to take a stand against gun violence whereby the company produces watches that are made from seized, illegal weapons. For every watch sold, you help to melt down more weapons and raise finance towards the rehabilitation of armed violence victims.



Told you it got better. What absolute SUPER TROUPERs these guys are!


Admittedly, the watches aren’t the pinnacle of watchmaking precision but do have a very heartfelt and fabulous meaning behind them and this is why I think that the world needs to TAKE A CHANCE ON TRIWA …too many ABBA references? Ok I'll stop.


The Netherlands


Performer: Jeangu Macrooy – Song: Birth Of A New Age


Dutch watchmaker: Van der Gang


Representing this years host country in the Eurovison Watch Contest we have a spectacular brand called Van der Gang. Known only really within elite watchmaking circles, this company was founded by Wybe Van der Gang as a result of his obsession to produce highly precise watches.


In 1990, after finishing his education at the precision engineer school in Leiden, Wybe decided to start his own company: Exakt Fijnmechanika. The company specialised in developing and manufacturing minuscule products for the aerospace, clockwork, medical and lab technology industries. Van der Gang’s eye for precision and high-quality products meant that his reputation grew very quickly and he was eventually able to pursue his dream of using his precision expertise to produce some of the world’s most precise watches.


These watches are so precise that the manufacturing techniques are far too intricate and costly for large scale production. Therefore, production is kept rather small scale and each watch is produced as a limited edition piece with no more than 250 being released at a time. Van der Gang prides himself on “balance in motion” and often spends years on new watch designs to the point where only 5 basic watch models have emerged from the craft production department since 2002.


Wybe is a true credit to watchmaking and I highly recommend to stay tuned for his bright future.


Spain


Performer: Blas Canto – Voy A Quedarme


Spanish watchmaker: Festina


Ah, Spain. How we have missed you during lockdown. Hot sun, even hotter guys (their Eurovision representative is no exception), let’s see how hot their watches are…


After reluctantly fighting my way through images of Enrique Iglesias and Sergio Ramos, I “unfortunately” ended up being attacked by Google throwing pictures of attractive celebrities at me and one of which just so happened to be Gerard Butler; or should I say the current brand ambassador for Spanish watch brand, Festina! (The effort I put into making these links deserves an award).

After a bit of research, I found that as of recent Festina have been very geared towards lifestyle marketing (cue Gerard Butler) with the company’s main focus being strongly geared towards offering affordable quartz watches with a typical “timeless and stylish” look. But once upon a time this wasn’t the case. In fact, Festina used to have a big presence within the sporting world and was heavily geared towards producing cycling influenced watches.


The company previously sponsored the Tour De France cycling event and for 12 years even had their own professional cycling team that raced under the Festina banner. The company reaped great success from their cycling presence but unfortunately all that changed in 1998 when Festina got caught up in the "Festina Affair" whereby Tour De France officials discovered a large haul of doping products in the Festina support car. Of course, major investigations followed and ultimately the Festina name became tarnished.


¡Oh, no!


Since then, it seems that the brand has struggled to get back on track somewhat and thus opted to head down a more boring "lifestyle" route whereby they claim to view time as a precious commodity and strive to incorporate a multitude of emotions into their watches such as love, freedom and of course passion (the typical stuff).


Even the company’s location status seems to be up for debate as there is an argument as to whether they are even a truly Spanish company. Festina was originally founded in 1902 in Switzerland but was later acquired by Spanish businessman Miguel Rodrigez in 1984 and thus the headquarters inevitably moved to Spain. The company still has production centres in Switzerland as well as Spain (and even China) which doesn’t really help the Swiss/Spanish debate. But according to various sources, Spain seem to have officially claimed this company as their own so that’s good enough for me!


Poor Festina, what a mishmash! I suppose it doesn’t help that Spain have been tipped as the bookies choice to come last on the Eurovision scoreboard either. Doh!


Belgium


Performer: Hooverphonic – Song: The Wrong Place


Belgian watchmaker: ICE-Watch


Chocolate, waffles, fries, beer. What’s not to love about Belgium? I know, ICE-watch.


Sorry everyone but I’m just not a fan.


I understand that these watches fill an important gap in the market and at least serve a purpose of getting people engaged with watches. After all, any watch is better than no watch… right? But they just really aren’t my cup of tea.


However, it's undeniable that ICE have been on a constant rise and have now become a leader in the fashion watch segment. Their vibrant, colourfu