Baselworld: Shinola. A Beautiful Story Made in Detroit.

One of our favorite discoveries this year is Shinola. A fairly inexpensive brand that launched in 2011 after adopting the name of the extinct Shinola-Bixby corporation founded in 1907—a manufacturer of small-scale shoeshine. Today, Shinola manufactures handmade bicycles, leather goods, journals and watches; all of them, proudly American made and part of a growing movement that celebrates the beauty of manufacturing and investing in the American workforce.

To build the first handmade watches in Detroit, they had to build the first watch factory in the city. A brand with great marketing, back-to-basics craftsmanship, high quality materials and superb branding make Shinola a brand to follow closely in the upcoming years. Made of U.S. and Swiss components and assembled in Detroit, this bright concept started with a partnership with a world-class watchmaker based in Switzerland to help them build a state-of-the-art watchmaking factory in 30,000 sq. ft. of the College for Creative Studies—CCS— in midtown, Detroit. Then, they began training Detroit locals on the delicate process of movement and watch assembly. The quality, designs and finished product are up to par with that of Swiss made timepieces in the same price range and category.

Shinola's pavilion is located on the third level of exhibition hall 1 across from Festina and Doxa. The modern design of this pavilion—evoking the modern architecture lines of Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe—, the custom bicycles, leather straps, journals, footballs, unique looking watches and the Shinola cola we received upon departure, make this exhibit one of the most unique displays at Baselworld.

 The calibre inside the Shinola watches is named Argonite and it is made of Swiss components in its majority. The calibre was named after the building that houses
their manufacture—the Argonaut, where GM’s legendary design teams produced countless industrial innovations, from the first fully automatic transmission to the first heart-lung machine.

All watches come with a unique manufacturing code, composed by a category number, a series number and a case number. All of these, engraved on the case back in a style that evokes the old black metal plaques that used to be used for VIN and engine serial numbers on cars, decades ago. For more info click here.