Should I buy this Shinola watch?
September 12, 2014 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market for this new watch. I toured the Shinola factory over two years ago and I was really enamored with the whole thing. So this is not an impulse purchase. I've been thinking about this for awhile. My apprehension is: I am aware that Shinola is owned by Fossil and many people think the 'Detroit Made' marketing is all hype. This very well may be true, but I couldn't help but be personally touched by the whole experience when I visited the factory. That said, I don't know much about watches and want to make sure I'm really getting a quality look and price/value here. Plus, I haven't found many reviews (at all) about Shinola online. If you'd recommend NOT buying this watch, I'd appreciate if you could recommend an alternative. What I'm looking for is a basic white, round face with date, larger face, with a leather strap. I'm 30 work in mid-management in a casual office so an everyday, slightly dressed watch in < $600 price range is the target. Oh and please do not say, Apple Watch. Thank you!
posted by gocubbies to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Consensus in the watch nerd world is that Shinola watches are generally high quality timepieces, but absurdly overpriced for a quartz movement watch. Recommendations in the price range would be a lower-end offering from Hamilton or Tissot with an automatic movement.
posted by sid at 1:33 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I guess the "is it worth it?" angle is in the eye of the beholder. I mean, the watches are made, or at least assembled, in Detroit, so there's some mistruth there but also a good deal of truth in the advertising, and they use Swiss movements, which are nice. On the other hand, they're not Rolexes or Jaegers and you can get a nice automatic for quite a bit less.

For example, faced with the same decision, I bought an Orient Bambino and I love it (and have received a lot of compliments, which is nice given the price). They are constantly running 30-40% off codes on various fora, so you'll pay something like $160-$200; it's not made in Detroit, but it is an own-make automatic (Orient is wholly owned by Seiko and produces its own movements). I also considered Christopher Ward and Archimede watches, and a few more. Like sid suggested, a Hamilton or Tissot would also be in your price range.

Which goes back to the original question: should you buy a Shinola? You'll have to decide on the look yourself. Then, keep in mind that all watches in this price range are considered low-end, so IMO there's not a ton of differentiation in terms of quality. Buy it if you can afford it and it makes you happy. Otherwise, there are other options that don't have as nice of a backstory.
posted by The Michael The at 1:36 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

47mm is not a "larger" face, it's massive. Pocketwatch size. Unless you're an NFL linebacker it's going to look huge. If you're into that, then cool, go nuts, but just be aware.
posted by theodolite at 1:41 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

You visited the factory, and you like the way the watch looks. Buy it.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:41 PM on September 12, 2014 [13 favorites]

My wife and I each have one and are completely delighted and satisfied with them. I have no idea if it is over/under priced and I am fully aware that it is only assembled in Detroit--As far as I am concerned that is more than enough for me. If you purchase it I hope you are as satisfied (practically and emotionally) as we are.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:51 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I bought my husband that watch it Christmas. He has worn it almost every day since and it's still looking great. It's a solid watch an he gets compliments on it daily.

It is a large face so it makes a statement but he wears it just fine at 6 ft 160 pounds (so no linebacker here)
posted by polkadot at 2:00 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Additional possibilities: Lum-Tec, Padron (there are others: Worn and Wound is a pretty good watch blog).
posted by box at 2:32 PM on September 12, 2014

Maybe one of the German brands? Like a Stowa or Archimede?

The MoMA store has some cool watches but they tend to be too expensive or cheaper quartz models. I immediately thought of the Max Bill when I read the question, but it's too pricey (though the manual version is closer).
posted by mullacc at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of other options at that price range which are equally classic and much lower priced. I looked at Shinola too and decided it was overpriced, so I bought an Alessi Record watch last winter (which comes in several sizes; you can pick which one best fits the scale you're going for). The Alessi watch is a classic industrial design and even has its own wikipedia page (it's the photo for the architect Achille Castiglioni, its designer)! I have gotten design geek attention for it all over - it's also unobtrusive, almost like a secret society membership. I just have a black band but I have thought about getting bolder bands, too. I like that the company supports a lot of variation. My watch was $125 locally.
posted by sweltering at 3:01 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband and I have both a Runwell and a Brakeman (we share watches) and we like them quite a bit. We much prefer mechanical movements for the rest of our watches, but Shinolas are well-respected in the watch collecting world, even if they are overpriced, as stated above. You like the watch, you like the company... I say buy the watch.

They're not actually owned by Fossil, they're owned by a company called Bedrock, which was created by the co-founder of Fossil. I don't know if that makes a difference.
posted by bedhead at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and seconding Worn and Wound as a great watch blog that tends to focus on watches in the sub-$1k price range.
posted by bedhead at 3:37 PM on September 12, 2014

Try Bell & Ross. They make beautiful, simple watches that are classic in style but also have a slight tech/aviation edge. Black on white or white on black.
posted by srednivashtar at 3:50 PM on September 12, 2014

I think sid nailed it. With the preface this is all My Opinion... They're cool, but $600 for a quartz watch is incredibly silly.

Bell and ross was a solid suggestion. I'd also recommend something like a white face braun which is timeless and stylish.

I also caution against 47mm, like the person above, unless you have huge arms. It will look REALLY silly. You want like... 42mm. That's still a large face, and wont look like a tea saucer strapped to your arm.
posted by emptythought at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2014

Bell & Ross watches are nice looking, but they're well out of your $600 range. Same with Junghans and Nomos.

For something similar, look at Matthew Humphries' customised Seiko 5s. The faces/case diameters are smaller than the others you're looking at, though.

I think the Stowa is a good option.
posted by a halcyon day at 5:14 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

In this price range, Stowa or perhaps Hamilton if you want to keep it American. That is what "watch geeks" will tell you.
posted by drpynchon at 5:30 PM on September 12, 2014

I really like the Shinola watches, were I in the market I'd also seriously consider a Tsovet. They are great looking and have almost the same cachet as Shinola.

I just bought a Daniel Wellington and at the price point they are at they are slightly more disposable. It's a great looking watch.

I also really like Mondaine which are cheaper for the same level quality.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:36 PM on September 12, 2014

If I were looking to spend $100-500 on a watch I would look on eBay for a nice restored Bulova or something similar. There are some gorgeous 1950s, 1960s, 1970s watches on there, and even fully restored and mint they are unlikely to hit $500.

I personally would never buy a "shinola" watch because every time I think of "shinola" I think of the phrase "doesn't know shit from shinola" and I couldn't think of shinola without thinking of shit. Sorry.
posted by Slinga at 7:28 PM on September 12, 2014

I like this Seiko.
posted by mullacc at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2014

Good comments and suggestions here. I have a Shinola watch, the Birdy double wrap, and not only do I love the way it looks but I often get to have a conversation about Detroit and urban renewal when someone notices it. It's a conversation piece.
posted by gillianr at 9:55 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also caution against 47mm, like the person above, unless you have huge arms. It will look REALLY silly.

Well, I don't agree that it will look silly but gocubbies you should be aware that the watch you like will date quite quickly. If you are looking to make a lifetime investment, this watch would not be a good choice. Which is not, by the way, saying "go as bland as possible."
posted by DarlingBri at 5:48 AM on September 13, 2014

Listen to hal-c-on. Shinola is an overpriced dinner plate that you will regret once the trend for oversized watches reverses (which is already happening).

Remember square-toed shoes? Tiny, shrunken Thom Brown suits? That's what 47mm watch is in a couple of years.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:03 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, but don't buy Marathon, it's overpriced for what you get and attempts to justify that by trading on the (somewhat tenuous) military cache; it's the Canadian Luminox.

Real soldiers and sailors wear Casio G-shocks, not shiny (or matte) baubles.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:09 AM on September 13, 2014

I have the 47mm Runwell (gift from a family member) and it looks cool but it does feel quite large on my wrist -- wish I could swap it for the 41. YMMV.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 7:35 AM on September 13, 2014

If it's merely about aesthetics, the case, dial, and lugs on the Shinola is very similar to a Timex Weekender. It's a $50 quartz watch that actually looks really nice on a leather strap. Another similar looking watch is the Nomos Club but that's on the end other of the price spectrum.
posted by cazoo at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

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