One of the most interesting developments in the collector community over the past few years is the emergence of Shinola, and their acceptance in enthusiast circles. It’s no secret that Shinola hasn’t always been widely praised by the most discerning and hardcore enthusiasts, but a series of more restrained releases (along with some that are just the right level of wacky – remember the square cased, yellow dialed Mackinac yacht timer?) has bought them some goodwill with new audiences. A new GMT in bronze would seem to capitalize on multiple trends in the enthusiast simultaneously.
Part of the Monster collection, the aptly named Bronze Monster is a 40mm GMT equipped sports watch with a robust appearance and 100 meters of water resistance. The aesthetic feels aviation inspired, which makes sense given the GMT complication, although unfortunately this is a “caller” style GMT without an independently set local hour hand (it runs on a Sellita SW 330). Still, it’s attractive, and feels lush in bronze with a matching brown fumé dial. Fence post hands oversized Arabic numerals reveal that legibility was of primary importance to the design team on this reference.
The case has gentle, curvy lines at the lugs, and the key visual impression of the Bronze Monster outside the dial is the 24 hour bezel, also in bronze, with numerals in relief. It’s a striking look that reminds me of watches that the collector community has praised, like Omega’s “Nekton” Seamaster and various expressions of the Oris Aquis with a similarly executed bezel. This type of bezel, along with the fumé dial, strike me as very specific, niche design flourishes aimed squarely at the enthusiast crowd.
Shinola, of course, is a big brand that wants to appeal to the mass market, so it’s not likely they will ever be an enthusiast favorite in the same way as your favorite small independent or heritage brand that’s been around for, perhaps, centuries. But a renewed focus on making their mechanical watches better, more wearable, and with design elements that are more collector friendly is hard not to notice if you give their catalog a careful look. It’s a reminder that as watches become less of a niche hobby, brands are adapting in sometimes unexpected ways to capitalize on more interest and scrutiny pointed at the watch world writ large.
The new Bronze Monster is available now, at a retail price of $2,295. Shinola