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Shinola is going monster hunting

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Shinola.  Like ‘em or leave ‘em, there really is no disputing that they are a presence in the watch market.  A lot of that comes from the story crafted around the brand and the ties into a revitalizing Detroit.  I mean, that’s what first came to my attention (given my roots in the area), and I’ve covered and reviewed a good number of their watches so far.  One complaint some watch folks may have is that Shinola has only been producing quartz watches.  Well, with the just-announced Shinola Lake Erie Monster, that changes.

You see, with this new watch, Ronda has found a home for it’s automatic movement.  While the spec sheet labels it as an Argomatic-R150 (gotta keep that branding on point), this is the new Ronda.  And, as far as Victor and I can recall, the first watch that we see housing the movement.  So, in that regard, you do have a bit of a novelty factor for the watch.  While there may be some servicing concerns as the movement starts out (i.e., will your local shop be able to work on it as easily as a Miyota or ETA?), I like seeing the diversity in brands producing the movements. And frankly, having a manufacturer like Ronda behind it gives you some level of comfort that the movement will be supported.

For the Shinola Lake Erie Monster, though, it’s not just all about that movement.  This watch is also the introduction of the first dive watch to the Shinola catalog.  First glances through the photos show that, yes, it is indeed a handsome diver.  The black dial with the white indices and handset is crisp and readable, the date display is legible (and color matched), and the case profile is classic and minimal (at least straight on; from the side it’s a bit chunkier).  They seem to have done a nice job with the lume, even going bi-color on the diver down flag at 12 o’clock. The ceramic insert on the uni-directional bezel has a lume “pip” to mark time as well, but I do wish it was a more fully-lumed implementation.

Giving in to the reality that a diver like the Shinola Lake Erie Monster needs to be accommodating of many different situations, it comes with a bracelet (stainless steel) and two different straps – one rubber, one textile.  That textile one is interesting, as it’s tin cloth – aka, the material that Filson uses on a lot of their gear.  So, you have a good variety here, and it’s nice to see all three options included.

So, given that this is a nice-looking diver, and the fact it houses a movement we’ve not seen before, we were quite keen to get a loaner in for a hands-on review.  As it turns out, don’t hold your breath, dear reader.  We reached out to our friendly contacts at the brand, and were given a curious answer.  While the Shinola Lake Erie Monster wasn’t actually sold out, they were thinking that it would be by the time we published a review.  A curious stance to take, but I guess that’s their prerogative.

One very good reason we wanted to see it in the steel was to see if the Shinola Lake Erie Monster looked and felt like it was up to it’s price tag.  Now, I have been fairly lenient on Shinola’s pricing in the past, but this watch takes things to a new level.  For the 500 pieces being produced, the Shinola Lake Erie Monster is commanding a price of $2,250.  When you’re in that price range, you want to be sure of what you’re getting, right?  Especially when you look at what competition is available in that bracket (either new or used).  Funnily enough, if this design came from one of our favorite smaller brands making divers (Benarus, Magrette, MWW, NTH, etc) at their normal price points, we wouldn’t give it a second thought.  Jump into the luxury watch price brackets, though, you give a harder look at things.

So, while it doesn’t seem that we here at WWR will be seeing the Shinola Lake Erie Monster in person to get a clear and final judgement, we’ll rely on our readers.  If you see one in person (or even purchase one and have it after the anticipated December delivery date), please do let us know what you think of the watch (comment below, email us (mailto:[email protected]?subject=Shinola Lake Erie Monster), or jump into our Slack channel LINK) and give us all the lowdown.  For now, let’s just gaze on and pass judgement from afar.  shinola.com

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Shinola Lake Erie Monster
  • Price: $2,250
  • Who we think it might be for:  You like the story around Detroit-based Shinola, but were holding out for more of a tool watch design
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? If I ignored the price, yes, it would be tempting – I like divers, and I like the Shinola story.  At that price, though, I would not buy it sight unseen.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be:  Get a lot more lume on that bezel.  In fact, use the multi-color approach done on the diver down flag.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch:  I guess I’m just a sucker for a well-designed (in terms of looks, I can’t speak to function as a diver) dive watch
Tech Specs from Shinola
  • Case:  43mm, Brushed stainless steel, with single dome sapphire crystal and anti-reflective coating.
  • Dial:  Black Glossy Enamel with Super-LumiNova hands, numbers and indexes to maximize readability.
  • Functions:  Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
  • Movement:  Argomatic R150 movement with Swiss and other imported parts.
  • Watch Strap:  Brushed stainless steel with polished stainless steel sides, black rubber strap, and black tin cloth strap.
  • WR:  1000 feet

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I bought one of the first 100 of these, and thus got to pick my number, as all 500 are numbered. It is my first first watch purchased at anywhere near this price point. Also my first-ever automatic (though I’ve been eyeing them for awhile, obviously from other brands). I own one other Shinola (their first watch released) and one of their Filson brand watches. As for the Lake Erie Monster – wow. It is stunning. Understated and refined on the face, with the “wow” factor on the back side with that saphire-eyed monster in deep relief. As an aside, this leaves a cool imprint on the beast on my wrist when I take the watch off. Watching the smoothness of the second hand making its sweep is a joy. The packaging is something Shinola has always done very well. They’ve outdone even themselves with this one. The metal box that the watch and extra bands come in is very sweet, and the overall package with the flashlight (a true divers light, very bright), the diving map of Lake Erie, and the 2 band-changing tools they include are all top notch. All three bands are very nice, with the stainless steel bracelet having a nice sliding mechanism for day-today adjustments. Is it “worth it” is obviously a subjective thing. I got it, initially thinking I might return it after getting a first-hand look, given its price tag. But one I held it, looked at it closely and saw that it really is a wearable piece of art, then wore it and got compliments, I was hooked! And happy.
    Note that Shinola’s lifetime guarantee on this new automatic movement requires sending to Shinola every 3 years for servicing, else the warrantee is voided. That is unfortunate, but maybe its just what is needed for automatics? Not sure.

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