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The name Shinola has come a long way from its origins as a Rochester shoe polish manufacturer to its modern rebranding as a Detroit lifestyle brand. With a declared mission to revive American manufacturing, the company makes everything from leather products to bikes, but watches are at the heart of its concerns. He went from an association with a certain ancient expression to one of the trendiest watchmakers of the moment.
Resurrecting the once thriving but defunct American watch industry is now a mantra for many upstart micro-brands and even larger companies like Timex. Shinola, however, deserves at least some credit for fueling this idea (and perhaps even influencing other national horological revivals such as those seen in Britain and France). When Fossil founder and former chairman / CEO Tom Kartsotis launched the (modern) company in 2011, it received national attention and even support from politicians who endorsed its efforts to revitalize Detroit and, for example, extension, American industry.
The combination of a colloquial American name (better known for the 1940s phrase “nothing is known about Shinola”) with Detroit’s image of pride in manufacturing, investment in the local community, and a great sense of modern marketing has proven to be very successful. The brand employs locals and is known to assemble its watches and other products in Detroit, but its use of foreign components and the American brand has also drawn criticism and controversy. Shinola’s quartz watches use a movement she calls Argonite, which is “hand-assembled in Detroit with Swiss parts and other imported parts.” Its mechanical watches mainly use common Swiss movements from Sellita.
Ultimately, you get solidly built watches (and other products) with plenty of talking points – not to mention some retro looks that evoke America’s past. Below is a breakdown of the main collections of men’s watches and the most notable models from Shinola.
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The Runwell is Shinola’s flagship product (not just its flagship watch) and its most populous watch collection. The model above represents it well with a simple quartz movement with three hands and a diameter of 41mm, but the collection includes different sizes (Shinola watches tend towards the large side) and variations such as chronographs and those with small seconds sub-dials. The Runwell Sport is a chronograph that features cohesive design elements like Runwell’s wire lugs, but has a sportier vibe with a rotating bezel.
Diameter: 41 mm; 47 mm
Price: $ 595 to $ 1,500 (including Sport)
The Runwell Automatic gets its own entry as it stands out as the Shinola watch for watch lovers: it has the recognizable brand look but is powered by the trusty Sellita SW200 automatic movement. As per our preference, we highlighted the 39.5mm version, although the majority of models have a bold 45mm width.
Diameter: 39.5 mm; 45 mm
Price: $ 1,095 to $ 1,450
The Detrola is Shinola’s most affordable line and uses quartz movements and plastic (TR90 resin) cases, while other Shinola watches are mostly made of stainless steel. They’re casual and fun in often colorful and playful styles and prominent 43mm cases. There is also a single 38mm anomalous model.
Diameter: 38mm; 43mm
Price: $ 395- $ 450
Sea Creatures diving watches are also technically part of the Detrola collection despite having a rather distinct look and purpose. That’s because they’re made of plastic, but not just any plastic: Their 40mm cases use recycled ocean plastic, just like the straps. They are available in five variations.
Price: $ 450
Although Shinola owns a number of diving watches, the concept of the Duck is very specific: it is made for surfing the Great Lakes. (It feels cold.) But with a water resistance of 200m, you can use it for just about anything you would otherwise use a diver’s watch for, including daily wear on land. The collection is focused, with a cohesive design and 42mm cases executed in a range of dial, bezel and bracelet combinations.
Price: $ 650- $ 800
With a square case, the Guardian is Shinola’s only non-round watch. It’s also by far the brand’s most vintage watch, with wire lugs and a shape reminiscent of dress watches from decades past, though of course it retains the brand’s sleek and playful sensibility. Flying a bit under the radar – non-round watches can never expect to take advantage of the popularity of more traditional styles – it’s also the smallest collection, with only four models available today.
Diameter: 41.5 mm
Price: $ 675 – $ 725
Unrelated to Seiko’s famous diver, the Shinola Monster is the brand’s only collection dedicated solely to automatic watches. It is also the home of the brand’s most top-priced watches. Above is a capable diver’s watch with 300m of water resistance running on a Sellita SW200 automatic movement and measuring 43mm wide in stainless steel. The more affordable models have rubber straps, but the straps will cost more and the bronze or titanium cases will cost over $ 1,600.
Price: $ 1,250 – $ 1,675
Many Shinola watches are larger, but the Vinton is the company’s smallest. With 38mm of steel, this is also one of the more affordable collections, at a price just above the Detrola. With great everyday appeal, these are some of the brand’s more traditional designs, but they’re well executed and deliver the Shinola experience in easy-to-wear packaging. An automatic model would be cool, but they’re currently only offered with the brand’s Argonite 715 quartz movement.
Price: $ 550- $ 650
With metal lugs and a classic feel, the Canfield fits right in with Shinola’s overall aesthetic and approach – read: they look a bit like the Runwell collection. In fact, Shinola divides the collection into Canfield and Sport regulars. Most Sport models have a chronograph and are amply sized at 45mm, but there are a few at 40mm, as well as three-hand and chronograph models at 43mm.
Diameter: 40 mm; 43 mm; 45 mm
Price: $ 800 – $ 1,100
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