Since its debut in 2013, Shinola has made a name for itself with its handsome, Americana-infused timepieces using Swiss-sourced quartz movements. But while it has cultivated a healthy following of stylish men and women for its designs, many Shinola fans and watch enthusiasts have been clamoring for a piece that eschews quartz for something mechanical. Now, Shinola has finally debuted its first watch utilizing an automatic movement (and its first diver): the Lake Erie Monster dive watch.
“Since the inception of the brand, people have been asking for a mechanical watch, but the reality of it was just not there over the past few years,” says Shinola President Jacques Panis. “We’ve been working on this watch for about two years.”
So what was the holdup? Essentially, Shinola was waiting on its Swiss partners to finish making its first mechanical movement. As Panis notes, Shinola is partnered with Ronda, a Swiss watch movement manufacturer, that supplies Shinola with the quartz movements inside its watches (and has helped trained its employees in Detroit). Ronda’s primary focus is on quartz movements, but at Baselworld 2016 it debuted its first mechanical movement, the R150 automatic, which makes up the beating heart inside of the Lake Erie Monster’s 43mm stainless steel case.
According to Panis, movements are assembled in Switzerland, then sent to the U.S., where the final watch assembly is completed at Shinola’s Detroit facility. Panis says, though, that’d he’d someday like to see the movements assembled in Detroit. “That is the aspiration … we are working towards being able to assemble the movements here in Detroit, but it’s going to take some time to get there,” he says. “That will require a lot of training of our people over in Switzerland, and those processes are beginning, but we’re not at a place where we can assemble these movements here.”
Shinola says the watch is good for a 1,000-foot swim and meets the ISO 6425 standard for dive watches. In addition to its dive-ready build, the watch features some impressive details, like a ceramic bezel insert and a black enamel dial — the case back even features a single sapphire making up the eye of the case back’s engraving that illustrates the watch’s namesake (a.k.a., the Midwestern Nessie).
Right now the watch is planned as a limited edition, with only 500 examples being made. That said, those who have desired a mechanical Shinola need not worry. According to Panis, “we will see more mechanical watches in the future” from Shinola.