We’ve been eagerly awaiting the chance, as we know many of our readers have, to see the Shinola watches in person and we finally got it (if you are not aware yet of Shinola, please check out our post from the other week). Shinola put forward a tremendous showing for their very first Basel, which is especially impressive considering they’ve only pre-sold 2,500 watches. But before we even get to the goods, it’s worth mentioning that in a sea of super-opulent booths with neon-lights, blaring music, screens, monitors, trees, models and fluorescent colors, Shinola was a breath of fresh, albeit industrial, air. Hard wood, black metal, clean lines and a refreshing sense of space made their booth feel more like a SoHo furniture showroom or a Dumbo loft. Clearly channeling the American industrial-material driven aesthetic present in their products. Though their booth wasn’t flashy, it was likely one of the most brand appropriate.
But enough about that, and on to the watches. The Runwell was present in many forms and colors and in person was as much if not more eye-catching than expected. It’s a bold watch that doesn’t come across as over the top do to its well-tempered proportions and subtle vintage styling. Most importantly, it doesn’t look or feel cheap in anyway. The watch is solid and has a weight that somewhat belies its quartz movement, while the heavy-duty Horween straps are as supple and rich as you would expect given the quality material.
On the showroom floor, they had models with black, green, blue, grey and white dials, cases in matte black PVD, vintage gold PVD and steel, straps in natural tan, black, green, and honey in two piece and nato designs, all made of Horween leather, as well as croc styles and mesh. Though there wasn’t an ugly combination in the room, we were particularly drawn to the matte black, natural tan leather colorway. They also showed a handful of sizes from the large 47mm case they initially unveiled to a tiny 28mm case for women. All in all, a very impressive initial line for a single style.
On top of that, they unveiled a whole new watch design, the Brakeman. Big and bold is the name of the game here with a 47mm cushion design and a very large dial. The dial design, however, is somewhat more minimal than that of the Runwell, with only a large applied 12 numeral, an index of applied hash marks for the hours and printed marks for the minutes. It’s definitely an interesting follow up to the Runwell that somewhat leans away from the field watch vibe and towards something more mid-century. Though the name refers to a type train, the watch exudes that “big” American aesthetic you find in old Cadillacs.
The Brakeman also clearly sports a different movement with a centralized seconds hand and date function, which is prominently displayed under the sapphire crystal’s “Cyclops” magnifier. As with the Runwell, the movement is a Detroit assembled quartz. Expect the Brakeman to run in the neighborhood of $600 and be available in a variety of colors as well as a 42mm variety.
Apart from the watches, we also got to see a plethora of their US made leather goods, a few of their bikes, some great looking shoe shine packaging and most importantly, drank some Shinola Cola. So that’s that for our time at Shinola in Basel, we’re really looking forward to getting some prolonged hands-on time with a Runwell soon, so keep your eyes open for that.
by Zach Weiss