Quick, how many watch brands are there producing products in Detroit? Two that I know of, actually (we wrote about the lesser-known one here). The most well-known one, of course, is Shinola. We’ve reviewed their watches before, and I continue to have a soft spot for the brand given my ties to the area. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a more complicated version of one of their most popular models, the Shinola Runwell Contrast Chrono.


As you can tell from the images (and my reference to complication up above), we were sent over a Runwell Contrast Chronograph for review. This particular one carries the Contrast appellation due to, well, the high-contrast dial. In this case, it’s primarily grey, with white showing up on the subdials and chapter ring, and some bits of orange accent. Paired up with the grey leather NATO strap as it is, you might be tempted to call the monochromatic fellow boring.


Perhaps it’s just my own personality and preferences, but I found it anything but. Rather, I saw it as a well-sorted (at least in terms of styling) outing, doing what they set out to do (making a not-quite-high contrast dial) in a slick way. Oh, and as long as we’re talking about the dial, I just want to touch on the one and only numeral on the dial.


That number, of course, is eight. If you’re at all familiar with the Detroit area, you know that 8 Mile Road is one of the boundaries of the city of Detroit (yes, the same one that Eminem popularized). So, I dug into this a bit with the brand, and oddly enough, it wasn’t actually an intentional reference to the road. Rather, it was just a styling decision to try and balance out the dial (against the date window). Be that as it may, I’m surprised they didn’t jump for the 8 Mile reference, as it makes for a much better story associating the brand with Detroit.


That’s probably enough of my editorializing on the styling, let’s have closer look at the watch. As with many in their lineup, the Runwell Chrono is no petite watch – it’s polished stainless steel case measures in at a hefty 47mm. Surprisingly enough for that, paired to the leather strap, it only weighs in at 120g. Some of that surprisingly low weight can certainly be attributed to the quartz movement inside the case, this time being an Argonite 5030 (assembled in Detroit, of course).


Also surprising? How well the large case actually fit to my wrist – both literally and visually. For the former, I attribute that to the curvature of the wire lugs, paired with the flexibility of the 24mm leather NATO (made by Hadley Roma). As to the latter, well, that comes back to the styling again. The curved sides of the case drop off pretty quickly from the dial, and the wire lugs really reduce the visual “bulk” of things (as compared to what standard lugs would look like). In short, this is one of the most compact “big” watches I’ve reviewed as of late.


This all went a long way to comfort in daily wear as well. The watch performed just as you’d expect a new quartz to (flawlessly), and the grey contrast palette worked well, whether it was in the office or a more casual setting. In the end, I was surprised I liked this watch as much as I did. While it was a bit larger than I personally prefer, the overall fit paired with the color scheme really won me over. If we have the Runwell show up in a more compact size (which I’m told is on the way, and we’ll review when available), it will be a very tempting option, I think. For now, though, the Runwell Chrono – coming in at $775 – is what it is – a stylish (and relatively compact) big watch from Detroit.

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Shinola Runwell Contrast Chronograph
  • Price: $775
  • Who’s it for?: This is for the guy who’s been admiring the Shinola style, but has been waiting for something in a different colorway
  • Would I wear it?: Yes – but perhaps not as much as I would if it were sub-44mm
  • What I’d change: How about something even more different – let’s toss some lume into those subdials!
  • The best thing about it: For me, it was the overall use of grey in the watch, with the strap coming in as a close second

Backgrounds courtesy of Gustin and Renaissance Art

ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

Leave a Reply