Made in Detroit: Shinola Detrola Watches

Since we started our partnership with Shinola here at RG, several of you have purchased watches, jewelry, and leather goods through our link. We appreciate both your continued support of us here as well as your commitment to purchasing goods that are made in Detroit by American workers.

Some of you have indicated that you’d like to buy a watch, but that the prices are a little higher than you’d like. Fear not, friends—I decided to buy one of Shinola’s lower cost watches, the Detrola No. 2, to see if the lower price point compromised the style or quality that I’ve come to expect from Shinola.

For more info about Shinola’s entry level watches, click the jump.

The Detrola line is priced at $395, or about $150-200 lower than the least expensive Shinolas. The body is made from a TR-909 resin, which you might know from the eyeglasses you’re currently wearing. It’s a thermoplastic material that feels a little lighter on the wrist than a normal metal case would. Detrola’s come in a wide variety of colors, everything from “The D” in fairly basic black, to the “Silly Putty” in gumball flavored hues.

But when the Detrola line launched back in 2019, for some reason it was the No. 2 that caught my eye. Who doesn’t have fond memories of buying a brand new box of No. 2 pencils for the first day of school? So that’s the one I picked with my own money.

Out of the box

 

The packaging evoked all of those memories for me, with images of protractors, rulers, and rubber erasers. I’m pretty sure that I can smell those pink rectangles right now if I think about them. Most mainline Shinola watches come in a wooden box, so right away, you can see where some cost was eliminated.

Is it a Shinola?

The watch itself has a very distinct Shinola vibe, with the numbers on the dial being reminiscent of Shinola’s first watch, the Runwell. The markers have a bit of a deceptive 3D look to them, giving it the appearance of a much more expensive timepiece. Here it is in comparison with my orginal Runwell:

As you can see, the 43mm case of the Detrola is a little larger than the 41mm Runwell, with a nod toward a more youthful intended audience. The silicone strap has a quick release, making it easy to change to a different color—no tools required. Despite the lower price point, the crown is similar to the more expensive Shinolas.

Obviously, it’s still a quartz watch, as you’d expect from the lower price point. The resin case, which is what allows for the vibrant, Swatch-like colors, makes it a clearly casual watch, not even mildly appropriate for a business or formal setting.

On the wrist

 

The weight of the Detrola is substantial enough to remind you that it’s there, but the strap is flexible enough to keep it from being intrusive. I have a very narrow wrist for a man, and I wear it on the fifth of nine holes, so I think that it could be worn by women as well as men with larger wrists.

The nice thing about the Detrola is that it’s a watch for people who might not normally wear a watch. You don’t have to worry about winding it, and it’s inexpensive and durable enough that you won’t worry too much about wearing it on a hike—the crystal is made from K1 crystal, so it’s a little more scratch resistant than other watches at a similar price point. The 705 Argonite movement includes a date window, so you don’t have to check your phone to see the date.

When I wore the Detrola out in public for the first time, I received more compliments on it than I have on nearly any other watch I own—with the exception of my Swatch Bioceramic and BAPE Big Bold watches—and almost all of the compliments were from Gen Y and Z, including one from the way-too-cool barista at my local Starbucks drive thru.

The verdict

Overall, I’d say that the Detrola would make an excellent gift for a younger person, or for somebody who has a large collection of watches and could fit this into a niche that might normally be filled by a Swatch—colorful, not entirely serious, but durable and well made. At $395, it’s a good value for a watch made in Michigan.

As always, it should be mentioned that we do receive a small percentage of any purchases made through our affiliate link. Shinola does have some excellent options for Father’s Day gifts, and we’d appreciate your consideration when looking for something for your dad this weekend.

2 Replies to “Made in Detroit: Shinola Detrola Watches”

  1. Ronnie Schreiber

    The way they have the lugs mounted looks very cool to me. They should do a model with similar lugs attached to the top bezel so you can see the brightwork.

    Reply
  2. Jonathan H.

    How long have those toolless strap pins been around. I bought a couple straps from Barton and they were the first ones I’ve seen. I love them given how often I swap straps on a couple of my watches and how ham fisted I am trying to use a removal tool.

    I like the looks of the Detrola. Wondering how well that resin holds up over time.

    Reply

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