Detroit-based Shinola is determined to bring US manufacturing pride back to Motor City. For the last two years, they've been building the facilities and the workforce to reinvigorate a storied early 20th century brand. They constructed a sizable headquarters inside the city's College for Creative Studies, a massive brick building which was originally built by General Motors in the 1920s and eventually became the center of design for the American auto industry.
Shinola's first order of business within their new HQ was to develop the infrastructure to produce their marquee product: a classic watch that's hand-assembled from nearly four-dozen Swiss made parts. To do so, they shaped 30,000 square feet of the school into a state-of-the-art timepiece factory. Partnering with a well-known watch movement maker, Ronda AG, they trained local craftspeople in the delicate and precise art of watchmaking. But they're not simply injecting some much needed jobs into the local economy, the well-made watches (and their reputation) speak for themselves. The first run of 2,500 sold out before they'd even been built. Thankfully, there's more on the way.
The folks at Shinola asked us to test-drive their signature Runwell model. We have to say that quality is felt as soon as you hold the ruggedly handsome timepiece. There's a weighty strength to the stainless case and sapphire crystal. The strap, cut from hardwearing Horween leather, is lined in sturdy stitching. The retro-styled face has a no-frills practicality—it's easy to read and features brighter-than-average hands and numerals when the lights go out thanks to Super-LumiNova afterglow pigments. Available in both a 40mm and 47mm casement size, the watches come in a range of colors and strap options, but they all have the timeless, masculine appeal of American industrial design.