Shinola at BaselWorld 2013

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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.

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by Zach Weiss

Images from this post:
Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw
  • Jay

    I feel like there’s some underlying reason I’m not supposed to like these Shinola watches.

    But I do, I really do.

  • The new Brakeman is a great looking watch, but clearly uses the same case design as the Momentum Square One/Two out of Vancouver which has a retail price of +/- $200. Crown is different and it has a cyclops magnifier, but does this constitute a ‘new’ watch?

    • w&w

      It’s similar, but I don’t think the same… Shinola definitely designs from the ground up, but in the end a large cushion case is not the most original idea on earth.

    • The key thing that sets us apart from other companies is that our movements and watches are all assembled in the USA by hand in Detroit. We’re the first company to build a watch factory in the US in 40 years.

      We could easily make a $200 watch if we had it built overseas. That’s not our story. Our story is to create a watchmaking industry here in America.

      Thank you for your interest! We’re thrilled at the reception we’ve gotten in Basel!

    • Please don’t misunderstand – I think the execution is very elegant, and the tastefull selection of straps and details is spot on – I was just commenting on “original”.

      That said, I like the history behind the brand, and I understand the emotion of “made in America”.

      Like other posters, I am looking forward to a mechanical movement.

  • When are you going to develop a mechanical/handwind or automatic piece? With swatch creating a 51 part movement for so cheap, are there any ideas for a similar designed movement?

    • Anything is possible in the future, but for the time being, we are working on perfecting our quartz Argonite movement. Starting a production watch industry from scratch in America requires a very iterative and careful approach.

  • I like those green leather straps.

  • I’m usually an all auto dude but these watches are worthy of an exception to the rule. Design looks great; build quality looks respectable. Dang, get that silver case Brakeman on my wrist now! Original or not, these watches are classy. Plus, they are trying to keep American manufacturing alive! Love it. Release them now please. I am ready to throw you a bag of my hard earned cash.

  • Hi,
    I live in Gilbert Az . Could you let me know where I might purchase one of your watches , either a store or internet. I am quite impressed with your products.

  • Only thing I don’t like about the watches is that they’re all sold out! I’m planning to buy one for my son’s college graduation, so I’ve got three more years. I’d like to buy a watch and a Shinola bicycle!

  • I am an unfortunate owner of a “made in detroit” Shinola watch. After shelling out close to 600 dollars I got a watch that worked for less than a month. Customer service? Detroit at its best. No answer, leave a voice mail.
    While it is a great story, do not buy this piece of crap. I prefer my chinese made Timex over this piece of crap.
    If any one wants to buy mine, I will sell it, with original box, some fluffy letter declaring me to be a proud owner.
    This is a real “detroit” story!

  • MJ

    Don’t be fooled. Shinola’s veneer of authenticity and quality is merely a marketing ploy so they can charge more. They are a horrible company to do business with.

  • I have two Shinolas. Beautiful watches. One of them had a problem so I sent it back and dealt with their customer service rep, Liz, who was very helpful. What makes them horrible?Also, I love the green band.

  • Resurrecting an old article here –

    It would be fantastic to see you guys build a mechanical (hand wind) movement in the style of the old Waltham or the current Unitas movement.

    It would look great in that Brakeman case!

    Best of luck!

  • Tim

    As a transplant from Michigan to Phoenix, I must say, I am thrilled with the story that Shinola is telling. I am proud of my roots and am happy to see that quality is alive and well at home!

    I received my “first” Shinola Runwell today and I could not be happier. I say “first” because I am sure there will be more in my future as I create a collection to pass down to my children. The quality, feel, fit and finish have exceeded my expectations.

    Great job, Shinola! Keep ’em coming!!!

  • Ron

    I have had mine since Nov. 2013 and it works well, seems well made and looks better than most. It is a bit pricy for a quartz watch, but a Rolex is about several grand for an automatic in stainless steel.

  • I have a shinola I bought on vacation. I wanted a Different brand but my wife liked the Shinola. I like it and dislike at the same time. Time will tell.

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