When we announced our partnership with Shinola a couple of weeks ago, a few of you said something along the lines of, “That’s a lot of money for a quartz watch.” As we’ve discussed, there is real value in the realization of returning watch manufacturing to the United States of America, and I’d rather spend $550-600 for a watch that is assembled in America (as a few of you already have through our link, and we thank you for that!) than similar or slightly less money for one that is assembled elsewhere.
But for those of you who simply must have an automatic watch, Shinola has you covered there, as well. The first Shinola automatic was released in November of 2017, and it was a lovely dive watch called the Lake Erie Monster, referencing both the Great Lake that borders Shinola’s home state of Michigan and the 1894 legend in which sailors claimed to have seen a roughly 40 foot monster swimming in that same lake. It was a limited production run of only 500, and retailed for roughly $2500. It’s now rare to find one of these original Shinola autos for sale anywhere, and when one does, they typically go for over $4000 on eBay or similar auction sites.
Fear not—the success of the Erie Monster led to the subsequent creation and sale of several other Monster models, including the Huron, Ontario, Superior, and Michigan Monsters, thus rounding out the Great Lakes. These models are significantly less expensive than the original Erie, retailing at around $1250-1450 new.
But for my first experience with a Shinola Monster, I wanted the new Ice Monster.
Named in reference to the original glacial state of the five Great Lakes, the Ice Monster is made not of steel, like the others in the Monster line, but of Titanium. It also sports an icy enamel dial, surrounded by a grayish unidirectional bezel that pays homage to (or copies outright) classic dive watches like the Rolex Submariner. The titanium case and bracelet means a slightly higher price than the other Monsters, checking in at $1675.
Shinola was kind enough to send me a new Ice Monster for testing, and from the minute I opened the box, I was impressed by the attention to detail of the packing. The box is meant to resemble a glacier itself, with the ICE MONSTER lettering lightly embossed into the box.
Inside the exterior packaging, there is a solid, heavy white metal case enveloping the Ice Monster. This is not a box meant to live in a storage container in the basement somewhere—it is clearly intended to be on display.
We are then finally treated to the Ice Monster itself. Its simplicity is refreshing in many ways, but there are slight details that make this Monster stand out visually. You’ll notice that the 12 O’Clock indicator is a “diver down” flag. The date indicator is positioned uniquely at the 4:00 hour. The sweeping second hand, powered by the Sellita SW200-1 movement inside, moves with a dexterity that falls short of a Rolex, but is still quite satisfying to observe.
The caseback is where the Ice Monster falls a little short for me. While it’s cool to see features like the 20 ATM dive rating and the anti-magnetic shield called out—a must for any serious dive watch—the aesthetic in me would love to see a visible movement. But the Ice Monster is a dive watch first and a visual statement second, so solid back it is.
The real test, of course, comes from wearing it. I put the Monster on my wrist on Wednesday afternoon and I haven’t removed it since. The titanium case…well, I’ll just say that I’m addicted to the feel and the weight of this watch. It is simultaneously light and substantial. Several times over the weekend, I forgot I was wearing a watch—it’s that easy to have on your wrist. But the material still feels weighty when you want it to be. It’s hard to describe, but delightful to experience.
The 43mm case feels like exactly the right size for me. I have very narrow wrists, so it takes up most of the available arm space. It’s slightly bigger than a Submariner, which is a whopping 41mm nowadays, so it stands out a bit more, as well. I received a high volume of compliments from both friends and strangers on it, doubly so when I removed it from my wrist and let them try it.
Stylistically, it’s hard to think of a social situation where the Ice Monster wouldn’t be appropriate. While I’m a fan of the green and orange dials found on some of the other Monsters, the Ice Monster’s white enamel dial is equally suitable at the soccer field and at the dinner table. It never feels too dressy or not dressy enough.
One of my favorite features of the Monster was this little micro adjuster on the band. Again, due to the smaller size of my wrist, I always have to remove several links from any band, and it can be difficult to get the sizing just right. Not so with the Monster—simply press this little button and slide the link in and out to get the desired sizing.
As somebody who has owned many of the higher end Swiss brands, I would say that the Ice Monster is the equal of most in terms of experienced quality and design—which is pretty damned good for a $1675 watch from a company that just started building dive watches about 3 1/2 years ago. It doesn’t have the brand equity of a Rolex, Tudor, or Omega, but it’s at least half the price or less than that of the cheapest auto dive watches from any of those brands. I’d compare it favorably to a Tudor Black Bay, which you aren’t touching for less than $3,200.
And the Sellita SW200-1, which is an updated, more durable version of the extremely popular SW200, is a movement worthy of a price tag that’s much higher than the Monsters’—it can be found in watches that crack the $2000 barrier and beyond.
My weekend with the Ice Monster has convinced me that it will be the very next watch to enter my collection. In fact, I’ll hopefully have my own Ice Monster as soon as this weekend. If you’d like to join me in Monster ownership, and help support Riverside Green as well, please click this link and purchase through my affiliate site. We do receive a small portion of any Shinola sales and we redirect that toward the hosting of our site. If you do make a purchase, please let us know in the comments or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, as some of y’all block cookies 🙂