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Shinola Watches: Born in Detroit

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Articles | 04.08.2013

Why make a watch factory in Detroit? Shinola doesn’t shy away from the question. Instead they lean into it: “we don’t think American manufacturing ever failed for being too good. Our worst didn’t come when we were at our best. It happened when we thought good was good enough.”

Fast forward from the days of the booming “U.S. Made” era and Shinola is doing their part to put the Detroit economy back on the map by declaring it “the new watchmaking capitol of America.” By taking over 30,000 square feet of a warehouse for production, Shinola is sourcing quality steel, leather, and mechanical components to make a level of watches that “hasn’t been made in this country for more than 40 years.” They’ve had Ronda AG, the renowned Swiss-based watch movement manufacturer come in and rigorously train the Shinola watch making team. They’re also sourcing movement parts from the same company to make the Argonite 1069 quartz movement for their first batch of watches.

On the outside, you’re looking at Horween leather straps, polished stainless steel with engraved case backs, domed sapphire crystals, and clean, illuminated dials for easy reading. Shinola’s first collection of watches, called The Runwell, comes in 40mm and 47mm sizes. These models are nearly identical, even in price ($550), but differ only in size. The aesthetic is simple and reminiscent of good old fashioned Americana–from the classic, round case to the vintage lightning bolt branding on the dial and crown, Shinola has paid attention to the details. Take a closer look at the dial and this becomes more evident in the retro fonts, numeral style, and color way of black, cream, and a hint of orange on the small seconds hand.

Shinola makes all of their watches by hand, so the initial runs of 1000 / 47mm and 1500 / 40mm have already sold out. With overwhelming support and a high demand, the company has reassured that new models are in the pipeline. And if you can’t wait to get your hands on some Shinola gear, fret not, since the company makes a whole bunch of other products right here in the USA too.

From bikes designed in-house to hand crafted journals made of linen, Shinola has a diverse line up of quality products at launch. One specialty in particular is fine leather goods. With wallets, bags, and an assortment of tech cases, they have something for everyone.

by Tom Caruso

 

  • http://www.mathieuj.me Mathieu J. Champagne

    I really like these watches, and would love to support them. That being said, I don’t see any justification for the high price tag. I think $200 could be a more reasonable price for these watches. They sure are pretty though…

    • http://URL Jeff

      You think that an American made watch, from Swiss parts, a sapphire crystal, and with a Horween leather strap should cost the same as a watch that is completely Chinese? Dude, the strap alone probably retails for $125.

    • http://www.mathieuj.me Mathieu J. Champagne

      I don’t care where it’s made as long as it is well-made. I’d rather the price be lower and them use a Japanese Quartz if it’s the silly Swiss Quartz that’s making the price so high. I don’t see any reason that this watch is worth any more than the Maratac Pilot Mid. The strap is the only thing that stands out as higher quality/ worth the cost, and the strap shouldn’t be anywhere close to $200.

    • http://URL Stephen

      “Being Made In America” doesn’t just add to the price for namesake or pride. It adds to the price because you have to pay people more to make the same product here.

    • http://URL PB

      I have to agree. Way too expensive as it stands.

  • http://about.me/mikepetrucci Mike P

    Did anyone from worn&wound preorder the Runwell?

  • http://URL Dan Ryan

    I think they are sold out…Man that was fast.
    Nice looking pieces though,but a little pricey
    for what you get.

    • http://URL Will F.

      Not really. A Horween watch strap alone runs between $100-200. Then add sapphire crystal (+$50-100, probably closer to $100 as it’s domed) and you’re already looking at $200-300 of the price.

      Then add in another hundred for the movement (ballpark based on other brands), and another hundred for hand-assembly and design and voilà, that’s already $400-500 of the $550 asking price.

  • http://URL Dan Ryan

    Never thought about the Horween strap and domed crystal, That is a quality piece….Guess I am just sour grapes that i missed out on one. I used to live in Detroit,
    I am a little sentimental.

  • http://www.mathieuj.me Mathieu J. Champagne

    There’s also some interesting conversation on the price of these watches at dappered:

    http://dappered.com/2013/03/what-would-you-pay-the-shinola-runwell-usa-built-watch/

  • http://URL Stephen

    The Runwell is absolutely gorgeous and the sapphire dome and the strap easily make it worth the $550 (not to mention the fact that anything produced locally is going to be more expensive). The only reason I held off on ordering one is because I hope for an automatic cersion in the future. Well, that and some expenses that had come up.

    Honestly, if they made an automatic version of this watch with the exact same design it would be my go-to dressy-casual watch.

  • http://nickhacko.blogspot.com.au/ Nick Hacko

    Well done Shinola! Fantastic looking watch. The price is spot on. You can be proud of your mission. All the very best,
    Nick Hacko, Watchmaker, Sydney

  • http://URL Markael Matteson

    Would like to see mechanical or automatic. I do not do quartz

    • http://URL Topher

      Dido

  • http://URL William Kea

    I enjoy watches and the craftsmanship that goes into a quality instrument. I own several high-end watches and I am excited about adding my Shinola watch when it arrives. In owning a watch, first you have to enjoy it. Like any piece of art, especially when considering a watch as an extension of yourself and it’s functionality, it should speak to you. During the day it one of the most viewed items you carry around next to your mobile phone.

    Previous comments have focused on price. Given the American labor market, it makes no sense to compare a watch of this quality made in the US to a watch made in the foreign labor market. It’s about buying American quality, workmanship and labor. I believe the Shinola product line is a milestone and an adventure in American creativity. I am happy to support such a venture and wish the company the best.

  • http://URL Patrick

    I have been collecting watches for over 25 years… Now, if you really want to talk prices, i.e. the fair market price of a “good” watch in today’s market gentlemen you would need to add a few zeros!

    A good watch even a quarts will cost you 2,000.00 to 6,000.00 dollars. A great watch, with an Auto Swiss or German movement will cost you over 10,000 and if it’s a brand name the starting price will be closer to 40,000 dollars.

    That being said, 550.00 for a Ronda Swiss made movement with a Horween strap if a very fair price… even cheap if we consider one could order a 47mm case with a sapphire crystal for that price!

    As a collector I for one will be contacting the company tomorrow and see if the would consider making a chronograph for me anytime soon.

    Just a little advice guys… don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

    Finally, Two points… RGM a very fine American watch company has been making fine watches in Pennsylvania for well over a decade now… and Ernst Benz, located here in Michigan, just down the road in Birmingham Michigan also make a great watch and has done so for quite some time. Point Shinola is not the first to establish a watch company in the Detroit area or bring fine watch making back to the U.S.A. IWC after all was an American company and they make perhaps some of the finest watches in the world.

    Facts can sometimes be tough things.

    • Matt

      Thank you. Great points all around.

      I really like the idea that American-made products may be making a comeback…but to declare Detroit the new capitol is a bit of a stretch given RGM and Benz.

      Likewise, I am not yet sold on the quality of watchmaking involved here. Their promotional video on the website, advertises more of an American can-do attitude, than a Swiss-been-doing-it-for-a-century artfulness. Not sure I want a quartz watch that was a testing ground for a new-hiree. Quality watchmaking is an art over there.

      Having said all that, though, it does have a very good looking, rugged, American look to it. Would like to get one, especially if they go mechanical.

      Good luck Shinola.

  • http://jacumbabirding.com Eric Kallen

    If the watch had a reasonable mechanical/automatic movement like an ETA 2824-2 it would be worth looking into. Quartz! NO WAY.

    The watches are attractive.

  • http://URL Susan

    Where can I purchase these watches?

  • http://URL N K Srinivasan

    Shinola watches are great ones ,with “made in detroit” label.The price $550 /- is not high for a genuine watch with Swiss Movement and Sapphire crystal. You are sure of the components that go in this watch…you are not exactly so sure with other brands which may get Swiss quartz, movement from someone else, use plastic base and so on.
    I am sure the price will come down as they produce in larger quantities, but dont expect a price range of Timex.!
    If Shinola starts exporting with the tag “made in usa”, I am sure the company will grow to great heights. Export to China and India which have a large market for watches in $ 300 to $ 500 range. Some poor quality watches are assembled and sold there which hardly last three to four years. So, I urge Shinola to export as many as they can.

  • http://URL Nish

    I have a brand new Shinola and it has quit working in less than a month. This watch reminds me of my Ford pinto and other great made in Detroit products such as my 1980′s Ford Van and 78 Impala.
    Customer service? “Leave a voice mail”!

  • Pingback: Shinola Watches

  • http://URL Mark

    Bought one a over a month ago. Worked for One Day. Nice. Worst customer service ever. Talked to 3 people get 3 answers. Today the shipping dept went home early ( I was told this when I called ) and the watch may be lost. After 6 weeks, no watch and I’m out $600.

  • http://a David
  • http://URL Jon

    Bought this watch last month… Stopped working for some reason. Tried to contact Shinola for warranty, so far I’ve been ignored. When I attempt to call in there is a voicemail prompting me to leave a message. Also they don’t answer emails. Looks like I’m out $600…

  • http://www.rahulgladwin.com Rahul

    Nice watches, but I only wear automatic/mechanical watches. There is no way I’m paying $800 for a plasticy lifeless battery motor. Mechanical watches have soul and style.

  • http://URL Dz

    I would be interested in these at $300-500. There is no way they are worth what they’re asking. I don’t care where or how they are made. Bernhardt…to name one trumps these hard for much less money and they are one of a number of “Made in America” brands.