Made in Detroit: Shinola Ice Monster Review

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 barkm302@gmail.com, as some of y’all block cookies 🙂

 

17 Replies to “Made in Detroit: Shinola Ice Monster Review”

  1. Nick D

    A Bronze Monster looks enticing, but I’ve found myself wearing a G-Shock on a bracelet most frequently these days. I’ve got a Damasco DC-66 on their proprietary steel bracelet I love, but want a nice auto on a strap.

    Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        The bronze Monster is a handsome timepiece. I’m surprised they don’t offer it in other colorways. The blue bezel and dial of the Lake Michigan Monster would look great in bronze. Do you know if anyone is modding Shinolas?

        Reply
        • Bark M Post author

          I have not heard of anybody doing Shinola mods, but it wouldn’t surprise me! I belong to a pretty large Shinola owners group and I haven’t seen any photos of any modified watches. Cool idea, though!

          Reply
  2. Compaq Deskpro

    I wish we could apply this ethos to TV’s. The watch’s function can’t be improved upon, so we turn to craftsmanship and materials. A few years back at a thrift store I saw a 2008 or so Pioneer Elite plasma, it had a thick piano black bezel that looked like a picture frame, much bulkier and heavier than it needed to be. It was something like $50, I didn’t buy it because it didn’t come with the stand, would have been an $80 eBay item, still kicking myself.

    Reply
  3. Keith

    I’m going to be the manual brown diesel wagon jalopnik mouth breather and say that I am a buyer when they have a gold automatic.

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      You could buy a Weiss 18k gold auto right now for about $8500! I think a gold Shinola really wouldn’t be much cheaper than that.

      Reply
  4. Bill Beau Baggins

    So you have a “partnership” from Shinola and now you are writing “reviews”? Talk about a conflict of interest.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth

      It’s a disclosed partnership, and you hear about it every time Bark mentions Shinola.

      If you want some counterexamples where the partnerships and benefits are not disclosed, I can give you a very long list.

      Our goal here is to be aboveboard. You’re obviously aware of the (vanishingly small) financial interest we have in selling Shinola, which is as it should be.

      Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      I always appreciate the insults from anons, but in this case you’re not quite correct. The conflict would exist if we did NOT disclose the relationship. I go far above and beyond any FTC requirements to ensure that everybody is aware of the partnership.

      Furthermore, it is a partnership with a brand that I have personally supported with over ten thousand of my own dollars. I’m not out here schlepping free shit.

      Reply
      • Bill Beau Baggins

        If your site’s financial team is accepting money from a company, and if your editorial team is writing about them, and if your financial and editorial teams are the same people, in no way, shape or form is that a trustworthy review, disclosure or not. Someone buys a Shinola watch and your brother makes money. There’s good incentive to cast the product in a positive light. And what do you know, the review is overwhelmingly positive! What a surprise.

        Reviewing a product you bought, even if you don’t make money from them, is equally suspect. Confirmation bias. Of course you’re not going to write anything bad; you’d have to acknowledge you made a mistake. (Trashing it after you get rid of it doesn’t make you any more unbiased.)

        Bark, I wouldn’t expect you to know anything about conflicts of interest given your history of writing car reviews while not disclosing that you worked for car dealerships. (To be fair, the fact that you did disclose your relationship with Shinola does show some incremental improvement. Good job!) But Jack is something slightly more like a real journalist and I would expect him to know better, especially given his (and your) past habit of lighting up other actual working journalists for being as compromised as this site apparently is.

        Oh, and this isn’t an insult. An insult is “You’re ugly and a terrible saxophone player.” Neither of which is true. TBH, Bark, I’ve always thought you are an attractive man. Very, very attractive.

        Reply
        • Ronnie Schreiber

          You must also be shocked that there’s gambling going on at Rick’s Cafe.

          It seems to me that you’ve set up a situation where it’s not possible to write an unbiased review.

          If the reviewer does it Consumer Reports style and uses their own money to buy and test the product, you say confirmation bias or buyer’s remorse taints the review.

          You’re unhappy with Mark reviewing a loaner. After all, a reviewer wants to get future product loans.

          How, then, is a reviewer supposed to obtain a product in a manner that won’t bias the review, steal it?

          Do you really think anyone reading a review that starts out by mentioning a “partnership” with the manufacturer is going to think it’s a completely impartial review? How stupid do you think the readers here are?

          Reply
        • Jack Baruth

          Mark and I own a dozen shinolas between us. But you have a good point and I’m going to write a disclaimer to append to this.

          Reply
        • Bark M Post author

          Strike one: I never worked for car dealerships.
          Strike two: I have frequently pointed out issues with cars and products I’ve bought.
          Strike three: financial team? Hahahahahaha

          Reply

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