Practical start: Shinola Mechanic watches

Although there is no shortage of automotive-themed watch designs in today’s market, the luxury watch industry tends to cater to only one facet of the automotive community with its releases. . The overwhelming majority of car-inspired watch designs aim to capture the look and feel of high-profile motorsports or classic European sports cars, disregarding the great diversity of the motoring hobby. Detroit-based Shinola has carried an automotive bent throughout its history, particularly in the broader sense of celebrating its hometown as the heart of the American auto industry, but as the brand continues its targeted campaign to win over traditional watch enthusiasts in 2022, its latest release seeks to capture the spirit of a very different kind of car enthusiast – the hot rodder. The brand itself claims that the all-new Shinola Mechanic series is named after a traditional nickname for Detroit-area sign painters. However, the design’s classic Americana bent, vintage automotive color palettes and hand-wound construction all work to celebrate the car enthusiast who spends less time blasting on the race track and more in the garage; maintain, restore and customize their cars with their own hands. The Shinola Mechanic series brings together a dynamic hand-wound movement, charismatic vintage American automobile-inspired design and vastly improved build quality to deliver what may well be the brand’s most compelling enthusiast-focused collection to date. .

At 39mm wide, the Shinola Mechanic line’s stainless steel cushion case design strikes an ideal balance between wrist presence and easy, comfortable portability. Unlike many cushion case designs, Shinola keeps the dial opening as wide as possible here, preserving the soft roundness of the main case body through a narrow, polished bezel. The main body of the case itself is nicely contoured, with just enough gentle curve between the vertically brushed top case and the polished sides of the case to keep the design from feeling too industrial or sterile. The thin, steeply angled lugs help keep the overall position on the wrist compact and manageable, while the large, domed sapphire crystal adds a hint of visible height while keeping the rounded, flowing profile intact. Overall, while there’s nothing overtly automotive about the shape, like most Shinola designs, a hint of classic American industrial design flavor seeps into the details. The rounded contours, the precise and confident blend of brushing and polishing, and the cerulean detailing atop the signed crown all remind me of the heroic, streamlined feel of American automobile manufacturing just before WWII, particularly the old Ford My dad’s 1939 custom. cut. The finish work throughout is a step ahead of Shinola’s mainstream offerings and has a cleaner presentation than many competitors in this price bracket. Shinola’s use of a sapphire crystal case back is another premium touch here, but the mechanic’s paltry 50-meter water resistance rating leaves a lot to be desired on the durability front.

Shinola distinguishes the Mechanic series models with three attractively understated dial colors in cream, black and dull olive. Of the three, the cream dial stands out immediately, with a soft, warmly matte main shade complemented by printed Arabic numerals in an attractive mix of navy and sky blue. A simple pointed stick handset in soft slate blue and brick red completes the color scheme. In conjunction with a subtly lit railroad outer seconds track, it’s a combination that looks perfectly aged right out of the box, without resorting to any of the ‘falstine’ methods brands rely on. usually to simulate aging. Shinola presents the hour numerals as the heart of this design, with a combination of sharp edges, cast shadows and rim highlights reminiscent of classic sign painting techniques. More apt for the “Mechanic” moniker, however, this distinctive hand-painted lettering style was also a staple of customizing early American cars, appearing on everything from front-engined Indy roadsters to hand-built hot rods. home chasing top speeds on dry lake beds like El Mirage. , Muroc or Bonneville.

The pronounced dome effect of the dial surface also helps give the Shinola Mechanic a softer, more unique look on the wrist, and the minute and second hands follow this curvature with significant drops towards their tips. Shinola arguably reserves its most punchy color scheme for the black-dial model, with goldrod and orange numerals flanked by a powder blue dial and handset. A pale canary yellow seconds hand completes the look, which manages to be decidedly dramatic in person without resorting to overtly vibrant color. Shinola’s Army Green colorway falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Green dials are still a massive trend in today’s watch industry, but the brand firmly anchors this design in vintage visual territory rather than pursuing a more contemporary look. The matte olive green main dial is enlivened by identical numerals to the black-dial model, but an off-white handset and seconds track keep the overall look tasteful, even with an orange sweep seconds hand. All three models remain wisely time-bound, and any attempt to disrupt the overall dial symmetry of the design or intrude on the charismatic hour numerals would have severely affected the feel of the final product.

Shinola powers the Mechanic series with the hand-wound Sellita SW210-1 movement. The performance of the SW210-1 is standard fare, with a 42-hour power reserve and a beat rate of 28,800 bph. Like the case and dial, however, Shinola takes particular interest in the finishing of the movement. Black-coated bridges and a matching balance cock are topped with crisp Côtes de Genève to add extra punch to the design, while nearly all visible screws are blued and several parts of the gear train are given a brushing. deep and spectacular radial. While it may not be the absolute best movement work in this segment, it is undeniably stylish and should be a great talking point when you show the watch to others. To complete the classic mechanic look, Shinola pairs each watch in the collection with textured tuck and roll style straps in supple, grained Nappa leather. Finished in mahogany brown for the cream dial model, deep black for the black dial and deep avocado green for the drab olive variant, these straps reinforce the vintage American automotive flavor of the overall design and are incredibly comfortable right out of the box. .

With a classic, easy-to-wear look, attractive colorways, solid finish, and an automotive spirit that dares to stray from the racy Eurocentric feel of most car-themed watch models, the new Shinola Mechanic series is a charismatic slice of idealized vintage Americana that may well be its most comprehensive enthusiast offering to date. The Shinola Mechanic series is available now from authorized retailers. The MSRP for each model in the Shinola Mechanic line is $1,450 at press time. For more information, visit the brand’s website.

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