When it comes to mythical sea creatures, Scotland has nothing on Detroit. Most of us are familiar with the Loch Ness Monster, first sighted in a lake in the Scottish Highlands in the Sixth Century A.D. but not revealed to the world at large until 1933. Fewer may be aware of the so-called Lake Erie Monster, spotted as early as 1783 and an enduring legend in the U.S. Great Lakes region. It was only fitting that Shinola, based in the Great Lakes metropolis of Detroit, adopt the name for its newest timepiece, which represents not one but two firsts for the brand: its first dedicated divers’ watch, and its first watch outfitted with a mechanical self-winding movement.
The Shinola Lake Erie Monster Limited-Edition Timepiece was conceived, according to the brand, as a tribute to “the explorers, sailors, pioneers, and divers who have spent centuries discovering the wonders of the nation’s largest fresh water lakes” as well as “the natural beauty of the Great Lakes.” This mission statement is in keeping with the staunchly pro-“made in America” identity of the company, which was founded in 2011 by an investment group led by former Fossil Watch CEO Tony Kartsotis, in part to bring back manufacturing jobs to the long-beleaguered city of Detroit.
The watch, whose 43-mm stainless steel case’s profile is designed to evoke the lines of historical sailing ships, is engineered for serious underwater use: it is rated to depths up to 1,000 feet (300 meters) and has a double-domed sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating. It has undergone a battery of in-house tests at Shinola’s watch factory in the Motor City to meet the ISO 6425 international standard for divers’ watches, and has a unidirectional rotating bezel with a ceramic insert. Super-LumiNova-coated indices provide high contrast — and thus high underwater legibility — with the black enamel dial, which marks the 12 o’clock hour with a “diver down” flag.
For its first watch with an automatic movement, Shinola chose the Argomatic R-150, manufactured by Ronda, a well-known, prolific purveyor of quartz movements for various watch brands that only recently re-introduced mechanicals into its repertoire. (Ronda also supplies movements and movement parts for much of the rest of Shinola’s watch collections, all of which use quartz movements.) The R150 has a Swiss lever escapement, 25 jewels, and a 40-hour power reserve when fully wound. The movement ticks behind a solid steel caseback that features a relief engraving of the eponymous sea monster, complete with a genuine blue sapphire eye and the watches limited edition number. Like all Shinola watches, the Lake Erie Monster is assembled entirely in Shinola’s Detroit watch factory.
The Shinola Lake Erie Monster Limited Edition Timepiece retails for just $2,250, in a handsomely packaged set that also includes a Princeton Tech diver’s flashlight, a divers’ map of the Great Lakes, and an additional black rubber strap and black fabric strap that can be easily swapped with the stainless-steel bracelet with the included tools. A purchase will also grant the buyer membership into Shinola’s so-called “Foundry,” a select group of customers with access to exclusive shopping opportunities and discounted shipping. In addition to the 500 pieces being sold at Shinola retailers and at the Shinola website, there will be five even more exclusive, un-numbered pieces launched as an “IPO” (Initial Product Offering) on the Detroit-based online platform StockX, proceeds from which will benefit the empowerment plan and Detroit Children’s Fund — and which will likely be as rare as sightings of the monster itself.