Made In Detroit: Shinola Bronze Monster and Detrola I Voted

As our relationship with Shinola continues here at RG, I wanted to take some time to highlight two of my most recent arm candy acquisitions from our friends in Detroit: The Bronze Monster and the Detrola I Voted. They live at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum, but both are equally comfortable at home in my collection, and I think they’d make solid additions to yours, as well.

I’ll start with the Monster.

Shinola wasn’t messing around with this watch. Its bronze and stainless steel case make it a substantial timepiece that announces its presence with authority. You won’t easily forget that the Bronze Monster is on your wrist—it’s the heaviest watch that I own by a decent margin. The movement inside is a Swiss-made Sellita SW200-1, a upgraded version of the popular SW-200. It’s a real workhorse of an 26-jewel engine that provides up to 38 hours of power reserve.

The dive watch aesthetic of the Bronze Monster is no stranger to watch lovers, and won’t win any points for originality. But it does manage to evoke memories of a similar, much more expensive timepiece—the Tudor Black Bay Bronze. And what’s interesting is that it does it in a way that’s even more attractive to this owner’s eye. The black face of the Monster, tastefully adorned with only the words “SHINOLA” and “Automatic,” matches tastefully with the bronze and black unidirectional bezel.

In the six weeks or so that I’ve owned this watch, it’s become my go to watch for nearly every situation. Shinola provides both a NATO-style band and an American-made leather band in the Monster’s box, which adds nicely to the watch’s versatility. The leather band, although a bit incongruous with a dive watch’s supposed function, dresses it up a bit and lets the Monster into the boardroom without too much fuss. It would have been nice to have a bronze bracelet option, as well, but I suspect that would push the price of the Bronze Monster into a level of the atmosphere that’s a little out of the comfort range of its target audience.

Ah, yes, the cost—I should probably mention that. Purchasing the Monster will set you back about $1,650, which positions it near the top of the Shinola range. But it’s hard for me to imagine finding a watch that I’d like this much for a similar price.  In fact, I liked the Bronze Monster so much that I bought a Lake Michigan Monster last week—more to come on that soon.

The litmus test for me on any watch (because I am who I am) is whether or not anybody notices it, watch fan or not. The Bronze Monster passes that test with flying colors. But if you don’t have $1,650 to drop on a watch, I’ll show you another watch that passes the same test with less strain on your budget.

See? Same setting, and equally attractive. The Detrola I Voted comes in colors and materials that catch the eye of almost any passerby. Even better, you could buy four of them for less money than just one Bronze Monster—the I Voted rings the register at just $395. I wrote extensively about my Detrola No. 2 just a couple of months ago, and all of the characteristics that I loved about that watch carry over to this model—still made of durable, attractive TR90 resin, and features a stainless steel core, a hand-assembled quartz movement, and a quick release rubber strap. I wore it all weekend at my son’s soccer tournament in 85 degree heat, and it handled the sweat like a champ.

It’s called the “I Voted” because it evokes memories of those lovely, slightly less attractive stickers that we all get as participation awards when we vote. Shinola, ever socially conscious, styled the I Voted as a tribute to democracy, and as a reminder to all of us to participate in it.

I personally love the Detrola watches so much that I now own three of them, and I recommend them highly to anybody looking for a fun, stylish, and durable everyday watch.

Just as a reminder, Riverside Green has an affiliate relationship with Shinola, and every watch, leather item, or piece of jewelry that you purchase through our link supports our site.

35 Replies to “Made In Detroit: Shinola Bronze Monster and Detrola I Voted”

  1. Ronnie Schreiber

    The leather band, although a bit incongruous with a dive watch’s supposed function, dresses it up a bit and lets the Monster into the boardroom without too much fuss.

    I’m glad you said “supposed function” because most dive watches never go near water. How many owners of five-figure Submariners will risk even going swimming with them on, let alone diving to any kind of depth? I think it’s safe to say that most dive watches, like most tool watches today (other than maybe G-Shocks), are rarely used for the purposes for which they were supposedly designed and are almost always fashion accessories. I have dive watches, a racing chronograph, and a couple of field watches but I don’t dive or race and I’ve never been in the military.

    My bronze Glycine Combat Sub diver came with a blue leather band to match the dial, not a bracelet (which is okay because I’ve never found bracelet bands to be particularly comfortable). When I had my father’s Accutron Deap Sea 666 restored I put a rubber watchband on it. Kevin O’Leary, from Shark Tank, who likes to show off his collection of high end watches, puts red leather bands on them, divers included.

    It would have been nice to have a bronze bracelet option, as well, but I suspect that would push the price of the Bronze Monster into a level of the atmosphere that’s a little out of the comfort range of its target audience.

    Zelos sells a bronze bracelet for $200. Would $200 really make much of a difference at a $1,650 price point, particularly if it’s optional? Maybe it was a practical decision. A bronze bracelet would look very cool but Zelos has to make the inner surfaces of theirs out of stainless steel to keep the band from staining your wrist green.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Despite their sophisticated 4WD systems and suspensions that owners have paid a premium for, how many Range Rovers and G-wagons get serious off-road use? Despite their high powered motors, sticky tires, and aerodynamic bodies, how many Ferraris, Lambos, McLarens ever see a track day or even 70% of their top speed? After all track days will no doubt void the warranty and hurt the resale value of their investments, and off-roading will scratch the extra cost metallic paint and muddy up the fine leather interior and lush carpets.

      Reply
  2. ScottS

    Thanks for thoughtful review of a fantastic watch. I purchased my Bronze Monster over two years ago and it remains a regular in my weekly rotation. It also draws the most complements and inquiries of any watch I own which can be a PIA as you have to explain it to way too many people. I think Shinola got the case finish just about perfect as the patine is absolutely gorgeous. Other bronze watches have erred too far on the side of heavy brushed finishes which develop a blotchy and very uneven patina. I don’t think I would enjoy this watch as much with a solid bronze bracelet as I think it is too much of a strong element, like painting a an entire room black or red. I have found I wear it on the NATO strap most of the time as I tend to wear the monster for outdoor activities most often. However, when fitted with a black leather strap it can border on masculine elegance. At least my idea of masculine elegance.

    It is difficult to find a useful review of Shinola watches as the Internet is obsessed with piling on Shinola for it’s product and marketing strategy of “Made in Detroit”. I think there is more of Detroit in a Bronze Monster that there is California in an iPhone, but this doesn’t stop the internet prosecutors for throwing barbs. I applaud Shinola for a great product and I look forward to a future purchase.

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Jack did a great job discussing the “authenticity” of Shinola in another post a while back. Ultimately, until there is another watch for $600 that is made entirely in America, I’m satisfied with the option to purchase a watch that employs Americans and reintroduces a trade to our nation.

      Reply
      • Texn

        Dufrane and Vaer meet those criteria, and are sized way better than the shit that Shinola pushes. Sad day when the Baruth’s become shills, what would Robert say.

        Reply
  3. NoID

    I’m not a “watch guy” but I’ve wanted a nice, reliable, stylish watch for a long time now. My concern is that a lot of these watches are owned and worn by “watch guys” who rotate through a box full of watches, so no single watch gets daily wear and tear. Are any of these watches truly going to stand the test of time if I want to wear it daily? My daily activities aren’t quite what you’d see in a Red Wings or Ram Trucks commercial, but I do some grunting on occasion.

    I ask because I could see myself getting a Detrola or Runwell if I play my (credit) cards right, but if either of those is going to puke out after a few years maybe I’d be better off saving some real money and getting one of their four-figure models.

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      The Shinola metal watches do have a lifetime warranty, and the Detrolas have a three-year warranty. I wore my first Runwell pretty exclusively for two years before I started hoarding, er, collecting watches, and it still looks new six years later.

      Reply
  4. MrGreenMan

    I have to give them a second look, but $1600 sure is steep. I have switched entirely over to automatics, as battery service continues to be more and more difficult to get, and so I thought they were off the list. I purchased the original Shinola maybe six years ago, but my brother has it, since he wanted to wear it every day and I had just kept it in the box (watches should be worn like cars should be driven).

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      Runwell Automatics start at around $1095. I have two of them, I’ll have to write them up soon. Highly recommended.

      Reply
    • Burgersandbeer

      Can’t almost any jeweler replace a watch battery? I played around with doing it myself. I need more practice before I would attempt it on a watch that’s worth anything; I would scratch the case up.

      Reply
      • yossarian

        I change my own watch batteries. Many watch backs have indentations on the outer edge that fit tools that are available on ebay. The battery itself maybe hard or easy to remove with tweezers, etc. depending on the design.

        Reply
  5. Ronnie Schreiber

    The raised numbers and indices on the bezel is a great touch for a bronze watch. It reminds me of the lettering on bronze plaques.

    Reply
  6. Burgersandbeer

    Nice timing n the review. Just last night huckberry sent an email promoting steel g-shocks. I clicked and noticed the Bronze Monster. It’s a really cool looking watch, but at 43 mm and not exactly low profile, I don’t know if I could pull it off on my wrist size.

    Reply
  7. Compaq Deskpro

    I’d pay $250 for a watch, if it gave me some extra functionality beyond telling time, but not $400. If the Apple watch could have the battery life and storage space (for music) of at least an iPod Touch I would buy one, but it seems all anyone can come up with is heartrate monitors and text previews. I just found a Panasonic portable CD player made in Japan in 1995 for $5 at a local Savers, and I’m enjoying it immensely. Using it with Yamaha HPH-MT7 headphones (strongly recommend, $169 and made in Taiwan), I like the warmth of its DAC compared to my PC’s more neutral audio output, and I’m listening to my MP3’s vs burned CD’s vs original CD’s and comparing. This has improved and given me a new direction with my music listening. I already have a clock on the wall, a phone in my pocket, or the bottom right corner of Windows. You can’t improve on this functionality without telepathy.

    Reply
    • John C.

      Interesting being able to perceive the craftmanship of the 1995 cd player where perhaps most can’t given the present value, but being unable to perceive the traditional craftmanship of watches with their interesting mechanisms, precision parts, and design choices. If only they could analyze my stool and allay my colon cancer fears. It’s a watch.

      Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      If you believe that the purpose of a watch is to tell you what time it is, then you may not be the target audience for this post. And that’s fine!

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        For a while, when I’d get asked why I wear a watch, I’d tell folks that if I wanted to take something out of my pocket to see what time it was, meaning my phone, I might as well wear a pocket watch. Then I bought a 1911 Ball Railroad Standard pocket watch made by Waltham.

        I’d consider getting a Shinola Runwell pocket watch, which was priced at $750, about what my Ball cost to buy and have serviced, but they don’t make it anymore and nobody seems to be selling them second hand (no pun intended) on eBay or Etsy. They made a limited edition Henry Ford pocket watch for $1,000 but those are going for two or three times the MSRP.

        Reply
    • CJinSD

      I was in the stereo business in 1995. Most Japanese brands of mass-market consumer electronics were having their manufacturing performed badly in Malaysia at the time. Yamaha was still offering high quality Japanese products, but Clarion, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, and Sony were definitely pushing features over quality in 1995. I don’t think the company I worked for handled Panasonic audio products, but they would have had a hard time competing on price while selling anything particularly high quality. Comparing a 1995 Sony product to a 1989 Sony product was like comparing a Buick Envision to a Lexus RX350.

      Reply
      • John C.

        I wonder who was pushing the Japanese brands to abandon their carefully put together domestic supply networks in exchange for SE Asian Chinatown. I don’t think it was Wall Street style pressure, remember when T Boone Pickens went to Japan to try to sell them on leveraged buyouts, he was laughed out of the country. 1995 was a little too late for a domestic consumer electronics maker, Curtis Mathes?. to offer any middle/high end competition.

        Reply
  8. Compaq Deskpro

    This is not a rare or special CD player, but I just checked eBay and most sold listings were around $20, so I didn’t do too bad. People will fork over $40 for a yellow Sony Sports Discman, and around $500 for an early Discman even in rough shape.

    Reply
  9. TAFKADG

    That Bronze Monster is a masterpiece. Might be time for me to upgrade.

    So, Bark. You gonna treat us to your take on Gruden-Gate?

    Reply
    • Bark M Post author

      You won’t be sorry if you do.

      As this website’s foremost Raiders expert, I may have to do just that.

      Reply
  10. Burgersandbeer

    I did buy the tools to remove the watch back. Could be the tool I bought it maybe I need more practice, but it slips easily, resulting in a scratched case.

    Reply
    • QuartzFan

      Mask off with masking or gaffer’s tape. Barring resale concerns, who is concerned about scratches on the bottom anyway?

      Reply
  11. NoID

    My opinion is that he wasn’t hired for his political commentary, but anyone who freely talks like that in corporate communications and doesn’t expect retribution is a moron. I’d comment on the mental capacity of someone who even says some of these things, but one of us is a successful NFL coach and the other is spending time between Google meetings offering his opinions on an automotive blogger’s article about watches. So…yeah, no comment.

    Reply
  12. Daniel J

    While I have no interest in watches, I’d like to see maybe more reviews on some of their leather and canvas goods. While some of the stuff seems a little overpriced compared to what I can find locally or from other USA leather goods retailers, I would be interested in them.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Try Reed Sportswear in Detroit. Most of their stuff is imported but they still have a small crew (Koreans actually) cutting and sewing leather in downtown Detroit. I’ve known the Reed/Silver family my whole life, good folks.

      Reply
  13. Tom Klockau

    Meanwhile I’m still wearing my stainless steel Wyler Incaflex my dad bought new in 1970 and gave me for Christmas 2016.

    I had Batteries Plus replace the battery in my circa 2002 Pulsar; no problem.

    Reply
  14. Sean

    Good to see you posting again. Off topic, but I’d love to get your thoughts on the current car market (new and used). I’d like to replace my wife’s car but I hate the idea of spending so much money in such an overheated market. However, I’m inclined to believe it will get worse before it improves so we’re leaning towards buying. Either way, I’ve never seen anything like it and would love to get your perspective on what’s going on.

    Reply

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