The name Shinola can probably get a giggle out of you but let’s move on…
The brand name Shinola may not have the iconic reputation of Rolex and Omega but over the years, this Detroit-based watch manufacturer has been making a splash in the industry. The company has earned its reputation by hand-making watches in the U.S., right down to the quartz movement.
Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look one of the more popular timepieces in Shinola’s lineup, the Shinola Runwell.
Shinola Runwell Chrono Review
Let’s first take a look at the general specs of the Shinola Runwell Chronograph 47mm:
Case Back Plate
|Signature Iconic Caseback Plate with Laser-Etched Serial Number|
Dial Color Detail
|120mm x 80mm|
Top Ring Plating
Top Ring Finish
|Double curve sapphire|
When it comes to my watches, the presentation is everything.
The Runwell shipped in a wooden box that’s wrapped in a black cardboard. This packaging looks a little bit old school for but I guess that comes with the Shinola brand. With that said, the box is very well-done and definitely feels high-quality.
Upon opening the box, I was greeted with the watch and a small tin of leather balm. The tin contains tallow, mink oil, and paraffin wax. I’m sure this is a clever throwback to the origin of the Shinola brand. The rest of the box includes: a storage case, story pamphlet, manual/warranty booklet, and a small plaque.
The pamphlet gives an overview of the watchmaking process and even includes snapshots of the Detroit factory. The leather storage case is also a nice touch as it showcases the company’s attention to detail.
Design and Construction
As mentioned, we will be reviewing the Shinola Runwell 47mm version. In case you don’t know, the Runwell line of watches is available in 41mm and 47mm models.
There’s no denying that this is a substantially sized timepiece. However, the Runwell features a reasonable thickness and a healthy bit of heft that it somehow sits perfectly on my wrist. Those with smaller hands or think that it’s too big can always go for the Shinola Runwell 41mm.
The Runwell is available in a variety of cases and dial configurations, with a range of straps from caramel leather straps to stainless-steel link bracelets. Today, I have the Runwell Chrono with a stainless-steel case, Arabic numerals, black dial, and caramel leather strap.
Across the Runwell lineup, Shinola has been quite successful in creating a design with a bold and modern aesthetic. The Runwell, in particular, features a straightforward, polished stainless steel casing and curved lugs that subtly but meticulously recede into the rear section of the case. The case itself is quite simple but it serves as a nice backdrop to the Runwell’s high-contrast dial.
Shinola’s trademark orange accents on the center seconds, sub-seconds, and narrow lightning bolt symbol just draw the eye and really rounds up the overall look of the watch face. It’s worth noting that all of the orange accents are Superluminova coated as well.
Just below the lightning bolt symbol sits the plain white “Shinola” text and just above the 6 o’clock sits the “Argonite-1069” movement designation and the proud “Detroit” reminder. Below, you’ll see the date aperture which is kind of a miss since it looked abrupt and doesn’t blend well with the rest of the elements.
There’s a sub-seconds dial placed in between the 2 and 3 o’clock, and a 30-minute register between the 9 and 10 o’clock. Both the dials feature a concentric circular engraving which adds another layer of detail to the piece.
All of the Arabic numerals are slightly raised and given a light gleam. This gives the face a much-needed depth although the numerals are not lumed. The hour and minute hands are tapered, giving the hands a stylish, curvaceous profile.
The bezel is rather simple but looks especially sharp with the brushed stainless steel. The crown also features a tiny lightning bolt and screws into the body of the watch to prevent any accidental adjustments. The simplicity of the bezel directs your eye to the more exciting design elements of the dial.
All of these elements might seem like too busy for some but I think Shinola did a great job of creating a spacious display and a layout that efficiently makes use of the 47mm dimensions.
The case back is rather impressive with its stamped metal plate design which can only be a homage to the automotive industry. There are also four screws that seem to secure the backing’s circular design. I’ve been told that the screws are attached right to the face for an enhanced structural rigidity.
Inside the circle, you’ll see the raised to the touch “Shinola” logo, the lightning bolt insignia, the laser engraved serial number, and finally the “Built in Detroit.” Some folks may find the engraved serial number to be unnecessary flourish but personally, it gives off the feeling that you’re getting something in small production numbers.
The watch strap is a pleasant surprise.
It’s appropriately padded and made from American Horween leather by Hadley-Roma in Largo, Florida. The strap has enough thickness that balances out the heft of the solid-steel timepiece. It’s worth mentioning that the leather strap is hand-stitched in Florida so it’s not just good-looking but durable as well. Best of all, the strap is very comfortable even after long periods of use.
Like the face of the watch, the clasp bears the orange lightning bolt design. Most people won’t notice this particular detail but it only shows just how much attention to detail was poured into this piece.
As evidenced with the various reference in the watch, the Runwell is powered by the Argonite-5021 movement.
It is a quartz movement and is painstakingly made up of Swiss-made parts which are supplied by Ronda AG in Switzerland. In case you forget, the movement is hand-assembled in Detroit by 13 or so highly-trained staff members. Wearing the watch just gives a good feeling that it’s handcrafted by a small group of people.
While Shinola refers to the movement as the “Argonite-5021”, I just like to call it for what it is, a high-quality Ronda 5021.D. This is one of the main reasons why the Runwell is offered at such an approachable price point.
While I am a self-confessed fan of the sweep seconds of an automatic, I actually quite like the quartz for this Chrono where the center seconds hand is almost always on rest mode. The subtle ticks of the seconds subdial really doesn’t bother me that much.
For a quartz, this Runwell movement is definitely nice and works perfectly. It has a battery life of 4 years and features a battery life indicator/power saving function.
The Shinola Runwell Chronograph is available at brand’s boutiques in New York and Detroit, or you could get the watch via the Shinola online store and is on the lower end of prices for a luxury line. The 47mm model, and the 41mm versions are pretty different in price.
And here lies my biggest quibble with the Shinola Runwell.
For a quartz movement timepiece, it’s a little bit insane to be paying this amount. The Argonite movement is more or less a variation of the Ronda movement. Well, I dare say that it’s basically a re-branded Ronda movement but I digress.
However, one could argue that it’s a well-made movement that is lovingly handcrafted by highly-skilled watch artisans. True enough, the Runwell is equipped with an extremely high-quality quartz.
Of course, there’s also the fact that the watch is extremely well-made with great details all around. The watch face is simply a thing of beauty. So for me personally, all these elements warrant a premium price.
Short Introduction to Shinola
Shinola is an American manufacturer that is based in Detroit. The company makes specialty items like journals, wallets, bags, bicycles, and of course, watches. The company’s motto is “where America is made” and prides itself on creating and keeping jobs local while putting out quality products that will last.
The Detroit-based manufacturer’s claim to fame is through their lineup of watches. It’s worth noting that the startup’s founding team is composed of people who previously worked for Swiss movement maker Ronda. The company was built by flying state of the art watchmaking tools and equipment from Europe. The company employs a Detroit-based workforce and train them in the art of watchmaking.
Should You Buy the Shinola Runwell Chronograph?
Overall, the Shinola Runwell is a successful timepiece that oozes with quality and attention to detail. It looks bold and modern at the same time. However, just don’t expect any innovation in design with this watch.
It’s a luxurious timepiece and should work great as a dress watch. It features a quartz movement so it’s easy to think that it’s a little bit overpriced. However, it’s nowhere a Rolex Explorer or Submariner. With that said, the Shinola Runwell is greater than the sum of its parts.
Plus, you get the satisfaction that you are supporting a proudly American brand with the vision to revitalize Detroit. So it’s safe to say that you’ll be paying for the Homegrown factor.