Made In Detroit: Shinola and how you can support Riverside Green

Over the years, we’ve been reluctant to take any money from you, our readers, despite your many generous requests to offer it. This website has never been anything but a vanity project. It doesn’t serve as a portfolio, nor does it help us curry any favor with OEMs—quite the opposite, as the virtual army of people who comb every word of this blog for ammo to use against us with our employers, family, and friends continually demonstrates.

We tried Google ads for a while. They didn’t even cover our hosting costs, and they were distasteful. So no more of that.

Some of you have suggested Patreon. That feels even dirtier than Google Ads to me. Transparently, both Jack and I earn well above the national median income, and there’s no reason why anybody should pay us money directly in these times when so many people are unemployed and in greater need than we are.

However, I was recently offered the opportunity to help promote one of the brands that both Jack and I have written about at length, and a brand that I have personally spent more money supporting than any other (with the exception of Ford and Genesis) in the last 8 years. That brand is Shinola.

We’ve talked about Shinola here, here, and here. I bought my first Shinola watch, a blue 41mm Runwell, in January of 2016 and I bought my most recent one a few weeks ago. In between those purchases, I have bought 14 other watches, multiple wallets, business card holders, belts, and even hats. I constantly scan eBay for deals. I have my own personal contact at the Grand Rapids store who shoots me off any photos of interesting models. When Shinola launched their first automatic version of the Runwell watch, I immediately ordered serial number 5, in honor of my father’s number at Notre Dame, my number in high school sports, and my son’s number on his club soccer team, and it has become my everyday watch. I have everything from that top of the line $1100 automatic Runwell to a $395 resin body Detrola, as well as a Guardian, a Bedrock, a Canfield, 2 Canfield Bolts, a Black Blizzard, 2 Brakeman, and 6 Runwells. You can see much of my personal collection in the very poor photo at the top of the page.

So, yeah, I believe in the brand. Which is why I am completely comfortable offering my endorsement of it to you, our readers.

We talk about how important it is to buy American here. Shinola comes as close to being “American” as any mass watch manufacturer since 1969. The most important thing they have done, in your author’s opinion, has been to return manufacturing jobs to Detroit. They partnered with Ronda AG to train workers in Detroit to assemble watches, bringing back a skill set that was literally lost in this nation. They built so many watches in their first year that they couldn’t source all of the necessary straps, so they built a strap factory that now builds 140,000 straps per year, all in Detroit.

Is it 100% American? As we’ve discussed in the past, no. Movements are still Swiss. Some components are still Chinese. But pricing has stayed level, and new models are being introduced regularly, including the Duck (which I have on order), new versions of their Monster Dive watch (I lust after the Bronze and Harbor Monster) and several others.

If you find yourself wanting any Shinola product, please use my affiliate link here and accept cookies. Any purchases you make in the 30 days after you first click, we will receive a small portion of the sales, which we will apply toward our hosting costs. There is a Mother’s Day promotion, so if you haven’t bought your mom or wife anything yet, you can do it there and get it to your house tomorrow, provided you order now.

As new models and products are introduced in the future, we’ll feature them here, as well. Feel free to follow my Instagram as well, where I’ll be featuring some photos on rare occasion.

I hope that you feel comfortable with this method of supporting RG. I want to be completely transparent with all of this with the intent that you’ll be able to get a great product that I have personally spent several thousand dollars of my own money on—not some bullshit free “brand ambassador” watch rental program that some of my colleagues in the automotive press are pimping. I’m not getting any free product. I’m showing you pictures of watches I actually bought.

If this makes you feel a little icky, I get that, too. But please understand that if we didn’t believe in this brand so strongly, we wouldn’t do it.

34 Replies to “Made In Detroit: Shinola and how you can support Riverside Green”

  1. NoID

    I’ve been dropping hints to my wife that I’d like a watch, and she knows that I follow the “cry when you buy it, not every time you use it” and “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” philosophies in life. Yet two out of the last four years she’s purchased a dirt-cheap smart watch from China (which cracked the screen when I swung my arm casually into a door handle) and a moderately-cheap smart watch from China (for which I’ve misplaced the charging cord and have no strong desire to find).

    I’m not a hoarder or fashionable. I want one watch that is of good build quality, looks nice, and works well. Bonus if it’s made in the USA. I’ll have to stop dropping hints and just ask for an entry-level Shinola for my birthday.

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      You really can’t go wrong with a 41MM Runwell. It was my first Shinola, and I heartily recommend it for anybody else as well. Versatile enough for nearly any situation.

      Reply
      • LynnG

        Bark,
        Nice looking watches but I thought “G-Shock’ was the Baruth Riverside Green house brand of watches kind of like Bonanza brought to you by Chevrolet. On Jack’s recommendation, I got three.

        Oh, one question, can you explain to those of use outside the circle, what is a “brand ambassador watch program” is this synonymous with like going to exotics are us and renting a 308 to impress… or is it code for something else, just asking, really….

        PS: just saw that Sewell Cadillac of Houston has TWO believe it or not CT-6 Blackwings, will not be anymore like them and all 600 made were presold before they were even built. Dont know how Sewell got two. So if you need a last if its kind American sedan may want to give them a call… Oh and by the way welcome back….

        Reply
        • NoID

          They have a few Runwells with a marine(ish) blue face and silver or white features and I’m digging them.

          But…at $500+ a pop they’re going to fall squarely into the “deferred emotional maintenance” category with everything else I’ve ever wanted to buy *for me* since I graduated high school.

          Reply
  2. Will

    “Some components are still Chinese”

    Even Patek’s have Chinese parts, the dirty little secret in the watch industry is that they all use them.

    Reply
  3. Eric L.

    I’m fine with this. To put my money where my mouth is, I bought several pairs of Dearborn Denim jeans with the elder Baruth’s affiliate link. That last round of American stretch denim is still fantastic. Their Paras, MX sourced denim since then doesn’t look or feel as nice.

    This week, after discovering I couldn’t revive the 15-year-old Timex Ironman watch I wore in my final blue-collar job, I’ve been pondering the thought of again owning a working timepiece. But Bark is like a 9/10 classy, and I’m only a 2/10 classy, so it’s unclear what I could realistically wear from Shinola. 🤔

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      You could do the Detrola line. I just bought the No. 2 Pencil watch. It’s dooooooope

      Reply
  4. Wulfgar

    I love watches. Started with an original Heuer Monaco a number of years ago and enjoyed Panerais for a bit until they sold out. But I’m a bit of a snob for mechanical movements – not a snob about anything else in life but just enjoy a mechanical device. Looks like most of the Shinolas are quartz? I would like to purchase one otherwise.

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Shinola makes several automatics with the Sellita SW 200 movement. The Runwell Automatic is $1095, and the Monster series of dive watches runs between $1200-1600.

      Reply
  5. ScottS

    I think this is a great idea for offsetting some of the costs of running the site. In fact I will encourage you offer affiliate links to other American made products.

    I purchased a Bronze Monster about two years ago from a local jeweler and it is nearly always in my weekly rotation. The Sellita SW 200 movement is one of my best timekeepers and the case has developed a beautiful patina. I promise my next one will be through your affiliate link.

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Very jealous of that Bronze Monster. That, the Harbor Monster, and the Ice Monster are on my list!

      Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Check Lieberman’s IG. He literally buys straps for watches that he’s renting lololololol

      Reply
      • Anon

        If I had to guess, it’s a way for him to feel some level of ownership over the rented goods. Still, why rent watches and then brag about it on social media? Who would be impressed?

        Reply
        • Bark M Post author

          A surprisingly large number of people. God help us if one of those Gen Y women writers ever start pimping rental watches. We’ll have betas lining up to rent watches previously worn by Miss Eighthead herself.

          Reply
  6. Wi Tu Lo, Co-Pilot

    Watches, not so much. Next Union House underwear order? I’ll wait for the link here. It’d be a privilege.

    Reply
  7. Compaq Deskpro

    After being aware of them for years, I splurged and bought a Unicomp Classic. Not the Ultra Classic with the unnecessary plastic chopped off of the bezel, or the modernized new and improved Mini M that is flying off the shelf and they warn you of a 4-6 week wait time. Screw that, I want the closest thing to a brand new Model M I can get, and they say on their page for the classic “try the Mini M! It’s a lot better!”, makes me think the old molds will finally be retired, sacrificed to meet demand, might be the last chance to get one. I bought the 104 key for $104 with the $10 103 key option, which deletes the right Windows key for a wider spacebar, and the UPS ground shipping was oddly expensive at $20. The box from Lexington (as in Lexmark) Kentucky arrived looking beaten. The box was bulky but only had small cardboard supports on the ends, with the middle of the keyboard wrapped in some bubble wrap but no cardboard support in the middle. A paper fell about advising that sometimes keys fall out during shipping and rattling bits are normal, not very confidence inspiring. (As an aside, Lexington looks like a very pleasant to place to live, good mix of industrial and tech jobs, no eyesore lopsided glass buildings anywhere, surrounded by beautiful countryside, I wonder if Bark can comment on this?). I was worried, as online reviews are sometimes overwhelmingly negative about the build quality, complaining of bits around rattling inside, creaks, ugly casting marks on the back, noticeably worse quality plastic and uneven gaps.
    Either these reviewers got real stinkers or I got a gem, because this is indistinguishable from a real Model M, besides some small differences. The lumpy bottom casting marks are in the same place on my legitimate 1988 Model M, so that’s not a downside. Only plastic flaw is the space bar, which is slightly less than straight and has slight swivel play, but it makes no functional difference. Removable key caps are gone, but the keys are still easy to pull off. My old M also creaks if you push it the right way, regardless the plastic seems to be identical save for being brand new. The Windows keys and a USB port are modern creature comforts, now I can press WASD. As far as the typing feel, its got the heavy push then SNAP of a buckling spring that M’s are famous for, and despite allegations of a weaker backplate it still feels like there is bedrock behind the spring. If anything, and this I’m not sure as I don’t them side by side the keys are louder and more resistive, simply because the springs aren’t 30 years old. Screw your Cherry, screw your flexy laptops, screw your tacky rainbow colors, this is a legitimate business machine. If you happen to care about typing in any capacity and American made products at the same time, you must buy this keyboard.

    Reply
    • Compaq Deskpro

      One more thing, the Num, Caps, and Scroll lock status lights used to be an old fashioned soft green LED. Now they are blue and obnoxiously bright, to the point of lighting up a dark room. Electrical tape is in order. This comment was just an excuse to keep typing on this.

      Reply
      • Compaq Deskpro

        I am happy to see them have some success, these keyboards were previously kind of a secret, but now it looks like the club is about to get a lot bigger, and they all want custom keycaps and minimalism. Combine that with the everything is valuable and rare and backordered trend, it seemed like now was the time before these went the way of Pokemon cards, kitchen appliances, school supplies…
        I was about to rant about how pointless mechanical watches are, but then I realized I was typing on a mechanical keyboard.

        Reply
        • Eric L.

          Oh, my. Ya’ll can type on something that’s not ergonomic? I’ve been on Microsoft Sculpt Ergos for a few years now. They don’t last as long as the MS Natural Ergo 4000 they replaced, nor as long as those ugly old IBM knockoffs, but I can’t go back to cramped ordinary layouts. The tenting so the spacebar is higher than the number keys? A wonderful feature.

          I bought a Cherry MX tester, to see what 5 key caps and the different density O-ring dampeners feel like. They were all just okay. I guess the Red was closest to the activation I’m used to. After trying a few coworkers’ Das Keyboards and generic chinese multicolor LED (preloaded with state-surveillance firmware, I’m sure), I realized I don’t have a problem with the sqiushy rubber domes of a generic ergo plastic keyboard.

          But if I wanted mechnical keys, I’d definitely plunk down the cash for an Ergodox EZ. That’s cheaper than buying a new $110 piece of Microsoft plastic every year and a half, I guess.

          Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Lexington is, by far, the best Midwestern city. It’s not southern, don’t kid yourself. Gorgeous landscape, low cost of living, no crime or traffic, a 45 minute flight from either Atlanta or Detroit.

      With my job, I could live anywhere in America. I choose here.

      Reply
      • Eric L.

        My complaints against Lexington:
        – All roads lead to Rupp? True. The tiny ring roads can’t support the metro area and the traffic drove me nuts.
        – I’ve been ticketed (AND TOWED) in Lexington more than any other city on earth, despite my limited visits.
        – There was an unusually high number of homeless people around UK, compared to UofL. Anecdotes from ~2008.
        – Lexingtoners are more angry about road cyclists than Louisvillians.
        – Asian food: Where even is it?

        Sincerely,
        An Internet Instigator

        Reply
        • Bark M Post author

          Interesting. I’ve never been ticketed in Lexington for any reason. Traffic isn’t so bad, especially if you’ve lived in a big city. I can’t comment on the homeless around UK, I try to avoid that area.

          But on your last point—Lexington is assuredly not a “foodie” city, but I’m okay with that. I travel enough that I can eat exotic stuff elsewhere.

          Reply
  8. ScottS

    The Bronze Monster is tied with my Navitimer for eliciting the most comments from admirers. I do find myself sometimes defending and justifying the Monster to watch snobs. I learned about Shinola watches on this site and didn’t think about them too much until I found myself staring at them at my local jewelers. Regardless of opinions on Shinola the company, the watches will win you over. The naysayers truly “don’t know shit from Shinola”!

    On a related note, Jack wrote in 2017, “There is no such thing as an American-made watch movement and there has not been one since Hamilton gave up on Stateside production decades ago.” RGM is a small watch company in Lancaster Co. PA making some very fine watches. Like Weiss, they started off using Swiss movements and still do for most of their products line, but the Caliber 801is made “in house”. They claim 80% USA made because, like Weiss, they have to use jewels and springs from Swiss suppliers. It would be nice to see enough US watch making to justify the investment required to make those components here, but I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.

    Reply
  9. Tom Klockau

    Rental watches? Oy. I alternate between a Wyler Incaflex that my dad got circa 1975 and a couple Pulsars bought in the late ’90s/early 2000s from a family friend who owned a jewelry store.

    Reply
    • Compaq Deskpro

      I think an iPhone XR/11/12 sized phone has the heft and deliberate pull of a pocket watch, and if I need to check the time, then there is probably more details about that important upcoming task in my phone anyways.
      Mechanical interaction is fun, I’m aware my keyboard has buckling springs on top of an electronic membrane for the explicit purpose of having a typewriter feel. Watches by their very nature are automatic, just like the software programs on my phone, they have little user interaction other than pointing them in the right direction. If their time is inaccurate or unreliable, then they have no utility. They are just fashion (yuck). Mechanical watches make as much sense to me as a Smart Fortwo’s lurchy automated manual. If something is going to deliberately be manual, make it good, otherwise make it automatic. A few years back Porsche says manuals are inferior, they don’t shift as fast, so what’s the point. But a substantial segment of their buyers insist on mechanical interaction, so Porsche converted their dual clutch transmission with a truly mechanical hydraulic clutch, and a fake mechanical shifter that send signals to the transmission to change gears, much like my keyboard loudly buckles its springs just to touch a membrane like any cheap keyboard. I don’t think this is heresy, I think this is the best of both worlds, to bring the abstract highly capable electronics behind the scenes down to the level of the human with their complex but fickle brains and fingers. Sure we are fooling ourselves thinking we are closer to the electronics because we added an extra mechanical layer, but it inspires an understanding of the machine, unlike when an app on your phone lags or crashes for an unknown reason, and you can only shrug and “restart” it, turn the rewind knob. I feel like their is something better between technically perfect $20 Casio watches, clumsy crippled smart watches, and new car money jewelry watches, but I don’t know what it is.
      You don’t have to respond to this, this is just a stream of consciousness.

      Reply
      • Tom Klockau

        No worries. I’ve worn watches since like second grade. Not a habit that will go away, and it’s nice to leave the phone in the car sometimes, ha ha.

        Reply
  10. ScottS

    Compaq, the only electronic/smart what with enough utility to interest me is the Garman tactix® Delta – Solar Edition with Applied Ballistics software. In addition to providing accurate time, date, and location, you can range a target with a Vector or Terrapin X and the trajectory solution for your rifle will be immediately displayed on your wrist. While this “watch” does require charging, if worn semi regularly it will go for weeks without needing to plug in. The downside is a relatively short technological lifespan.

    My oldest “dumb” watch has been providing useful time and date information to me for 41 years, and I have some other watches that I expect to have similar service lives and I hope to pass them on to another generation. How many smart watches do you suppose a fellow would consume in 41 years?

    Reply
  11. Wila

    So now you want us to pay for your bandwidth? I thought you were wealthy, you pretentious tosser. What’s net? e-begging? Get a job Viergang Fucks. You went from being the Miata hater/Boxster hater to owner- and now you’re reviewing 1980’s era land yachts. Talk about jumping the shark.

    Reply

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