The new face of Detroit: Shinola revitalises Motor City
Motor-city brand Shinola offers watches, leather goods and bicycles of the highest quality and craftsmanship
Baselworld 2015 marked the finish line for two new timepiece additions to Shinola’s watch family: The Rambler GMT, with 24-hour hand, and The Moon Phase Dial for both the Gomelsky and Runwell styles, which keep track of lunar phases.
The Rambler GMT is the brand’s first dedicated travel watch and features a new Argonite 515.24H movement with 24-hour hand and turning topring bezel, and is designed to maintain accurate time when crossing world zones. ‘We wanted to add a new style in the spirit of travel and adventure,’ says Shinola creative director Daniel Caudill, ‘and so The Rambler GMT was born.’ For those travelling more for play, than work, the 44-millimeter stainless steel case is water resistant to 100 meters and has a screw-down crown.
The Gomelsky Moon Phase, on the other hand, updates one of Shinola’s most successful women’s watches with a custom designed moon dial for tracking lunar cycles over the course of a month. In technical speak the function is driven by the Argonite 708 movement that propels the lunar disc through its course every 29.5 days, as shown in the aperture at the centre of the dial. ‘We launched The Moon Phase as an upgrade to our most popular and classic styles - the Gomelsky and the Runwell,’ continues Caudill. ‘We custom designed the lunar disc in our factory, and it itself was inspired by a ceiling painting that I saw in a museum.’
But what makes both of these additions so poignant for Shinola is the fact that these Geneva Baselworld launches followed on from the brand’s investment in an in-house dial manufacturing operation back in Detroit. This was made possible by its union with Taiwanese company BAT Ltd, who have been expertly crafting watch dials for the past 30 years. Phase one of Shinola’s ‘cut-no-corners’ approach started in November 2014 with BAT championing a rigorous training program of its Motor City-based craftspeople. ‘We felt it was important to introduce these two new movements to our collection to continue our commitment to manufacturing in the United States and the evolution of the brand.’
Taking over 2,000 square feet of its state-of-the-art Detroit factory, phase two production began in January with The Runwell. CEO Heath Carr concurs: ‘Our long-term goal is to create Shinola watches that are predominately American made. This development also gives Shinola the opportunity to be part of work-force development in the local community.’ A glass-enclosed workroom allows visitors of Shinola’s Detroit flagship to view the manufacturing process in real time. This is also where the brand’s cult issue bicycles are assembled by hand. A special edition Nickel version of the Detroit Arrow recently saw its inception right here. All told, what is clearly evident on site is the brand’s continued pledge to ensure the preservation and innovation of craft on US soil.