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Shinola Watches Review & Buying Guide

Shinola Watches - Cover Pic

Detroit, an American city greatly affected by the downfall of the country’s economic plight, and the city’s plethora of debt acquired through many years of crime, lost jobs, and hardship.  So, is there anything in Detroit that is still significant to not only Michigan, but America as a whole? There sure is. Shinola Watches is a company born in New Jersey, but has established a flagship store, offices, and manufacturing facilities, in Detroit. Needless to say, in a struggling city, that has managed to start to build itself back up over the last few years, this company has become an vital organ that has allowed a city that was once forgotten and abandoned by so many to have a little life breathed back into it.  We have found Shinola watches to be quite captivating, not only visually, but from a business perspective. Therefore, we only saw it fitting to shine a spotlight and give Shinola watches the review and feature article they deserved.

Shinola Offices - Detroit

Company and Its History

Although Shinola’s Detroit store is the main flagship store, it also has flagship stores in Minneapolis and New York. And that’s been accomplished with just a few years under its belt. The company was founded in 2011 by former CEO and Founder of Fossil Watches, Tom Kartortis, who served as head of the watch empire from 1984 to 2000 before handing the reigns to his brother.  Tom took Shinola, which was once a shoe polish brand, and turned it into one of the biggest up-and-coming watch companies of the generation.

Ronda Movement Parts For Shinola

Ronda AG, the other part owner, is a Swiss company specialized in Quartz watches. They also also provide parts for the watch movements of Shinola watches, and movements for certain Fossil watches.

Shinola Watches For Sale

Where Are They Sold? What Do They Cost?

Shinola watches are for sale at various places, and you can hunt them down at most high end department stores. These watches are prestigious not only for their look but because of the precision craftsmanship. They’re individually made with the utmost detail and precision, right here in the good ole U-S-of-A.

So, where do you go to get these unique and authentic watches? They are sold at Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Mr. Porter.  With prices ranging from $550 – $975.


The Runwell Contrast Chrono’ Bracelet Watch

So, what really comes with that price tag? Quality and detail. Don’t believe us? Let’s take a look at one of their more expensive watches, The Shinola ‘Runwell Contrast Chrono’ Bracelet Watch, 41mm. It has Detroit-built Argonite 5030 quartz movement made with Swiss parts – Super-LumiNova hands – Water resistance – sapphire crystal face. As per its retail description:

“A sporty, dual-finish update to a classic Shinola timepiece brings the next evolution of fine Detroit craftsmanship. The 83-piece, American-made quartz movement powers the time, date and chronograph subdials, while a double-curved sapphire crystal face protects the clean display. A solid-steel case and polished five-link bracelet complete the timeless silhouette, and a signature caseback laser-etched with a serial number adds a custom finish.”

Manufacturing Shinola

Why Detroit?

Detroit is infamous for automobiles, but why make watches there?  According to Shinola watches wiki, “The decision to base the company in Detroit derived both from a desire to make watches in the United States and from a strategic decision to anchor operations in a unique city with an established and unshakable reputation as an industrial leader. The city of Detroit also serves as differentiator in the marketplace.”


When Shinola bought the shoe polish brand rights in 2001, they actually sent out a survey asking how much money they would spend on a pen made in China, the greater US, or Detroit specifically. Detroit got the highest return. Not only is it a city in need of financial help, but it is also the original home to American industrialism. Perhaps that is why these watches are made with so much passion and superb detail. Currently, Shinola employs a total of 309 people, 84 of which are in watch manufacturing and 50 in leather manufacturing, with 10 more in warehouse distribution. The other 165 people are split up into design, sales, IT and marketing.  They not only brought a great brand to Detroit, but also have opened doors for good jobs.

How Detroit Are They?

So, how Detroit are these watches? Parts for these watches come from Switzerland as stated before. But, they are made with a variety of parts. So when they come across the hands of a live (non robotic) assembler, it’s up to them which parts to connect together to make the watch. So, every watch is different and unique from the others. Therefore, there’s a whole lot of Detroit exclusivity in each watch manufactured.

Shinola Bikes

Shinola Bikes

While watches are the main bread winner for Shinola; they also make bicycles, producing about 1,000 a year with their average price being $1,950. Assembling all the bikes in-house while sourcing products from around the US (and a few little pieces from overseas) Shinola bikes add one more upswing to the Detroit job market.


The Leather Goods

Shinola Leather Goods

What’s a watch without a strap? Well, it’s a pocket watch, but they aren’t in that business.  Shinola also specializes in leather goods, which includes making their own watch straps using imported Italian machinery. The leather comes from Horween, a leather company from Chicago that produces more than 100 varieties of leather. The stitching is all hand-sewn in Detroit, and it’s as firm and solid as the watch itself. The edges are then painted for finishing.

Aside from their watch straps, they also produce many other leather goods. Some examples being, messenger bags, handbags, clutches, cell phone cases, even iPad or tablet cases.  As a whole, Shinola’s leather products have a rough and rugged aspect to them. They are neat enough for the most dapper of dudes, but lean more toward the rugged outdoorsman, if you will.  Sure, you can dress them up, but it works best with casual sophisticated than with black tie formal.

The Shinola Conclusion

Shinola definitely seems to be a solid company that truly wants to sell quality products.   Their motto is “Where America Is Made,” and we can feel it in the style they successfully portray in these timeless timekeepers.

In a world where so many products are now entirely made with machines and robots, it’s nice to know that a real live person carefully took their time and efforts to make my watch, bike, or any other Shinola product. They are pioneers of detail, and intricacy. Each product is treated with the highest level of care when being assembled or manufactured. So, in the end, the company is operating with a highly respectable business ethic, while also dusting off Detroit’s past reputation and flooding a great industrial city with new hope again.

Buy Shinola Watches Online

Here are our top picks from Shinola, and where you can purchase:

‘The Runwell Contrast Chrono’ Bracelet Watch, 47mm – $975

‘The Runwell Contrast Chrono’ Leather Strap Watch, 41mm – $775

‘The Runwell Chrono’ Leather Strap Watch, 47mm – $750

‘The Runwell Contrast Chrono’ Bracelet Watch, 41mm – $975

‘The Runwell’ Leather Strap Watch, 47mm – $550

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Lifetailored has partnered with Creditcards.com for our coverage of credit card products. Lifetailored and Creditcards.com may receive a commission from card issuers Additional Disclosure: This site has affiliate links. We may be compensated when users make a purchase or register to a third party website. For more details read our privacy policy.

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