Earlier this year, I had the great opportunity to go hands on with an all-new watch line being launched by Detroit-based Shinola. Called Detrola, the new line is highly affordable and decidedly trendy. Years ago, when Tom Kartsotis (who founded Fossil and later Shinola) was searching trademarks for Shinola (Shinola officially launched in 2013), he came across another pretty similar and cool name, Detrola, and acquired it in hopes of doing something special down the road. Well that “down the road” time frame is here and Shinola is unveiling a $395 watch sub-brand using the name of the early 20th century Radio company.
In fact, Detrola was founded in Detroit in 1931 and created affordable household radio sets and cameras. The company — founded in the midst of the Great Depression in America — came to strong success by 1936. That year, the company billed itself as the Sixth Largest Radio Manufacturer in America. Sadly, the brand sales began to decline in the early 1940’s, and ultimately closed its doors. Vintage radios and cameras can still be found in museums and private collections.
With the launch of Detrola, “The Official Watch Of Something(TM),” we witness one of the most comprehensive specialty capsule collection by Shinola. With youthful designs that might spark the millennial imagination, the watches are meant to be highly collectible thanks to their diverse designs and good-humored packaging. The series includes The Islander, dubbed perfect for “Nude Beach Attire.” The bright yellow strap is complemented by a grass green dial and pink bezel. The packaging sports a tropical fruit motif.
Another collection is The Ace, with red, white and blue design motif. In all there are five collections in the initial launch: The aforementioned Islander and Ace, as well as the Pinky (it’s not salmon, it’s pink), the rich blue The Flow (perfect for Daily Wear), the gray and white and vanilla hued Pine Knob, The No. 2 — a play on the number 2 pencils used in school, and — naturally — the Model D. There are also a host of other themes. Each color-way is created in a limited edition of 250 pieces.
Each watch measures 43mm in diameter and is fitted with a soft and flexible quick-release silicone strap. The cases are made of a high-grade resin (TR9) and so are lightweight yet durable. Best of all, the material can be colored in every hue from muted tones to bold and bright or rich and deep colors. Each watch is powered by Shinola’s Detroit-built Argonite 705 movement and finished with a K1 crystal, one of the hardest, most durable mineral crystals with scratch resistance. Shinola watch assembly specialists were trained by the company’s Swiss partner, Ronda AG. Every Shinola watch contains Swiss components from Ronda that are assembled entirely in Detroit, including the Argonite 705.
As I mentioned before, the packaging for Detrola is fun and whimsical. A long skinny box with patterned motifs that can be reused for anything. The watches retail for $395, and are being sold in Shinola stores and on Shinola.com, as well as from Neiman Marcus beginning September 25th.
The most challenging part of the collection may well be picking your favorite. Being a beach lover and sun fanatic, the Islander was my first choice, but then the Pine Knob with fresh and versatile color ways also called to me. That, then, is the point of the Detrola line — collect them all.
Oh, and if you don’t know Shxt from Shinola, it’s ok, you now know Detrola.