All Things Americana

All Things Americana
Shinola’s creative director, Mr Daniel Caudill, was in town earlier this month when the brand opened its first store in Asia at Robinsons Orchard.

SINGAPORE - Think of luxury watches and Switzerland comes to mind.

But the two-year-old American lifestyle brand Shinola (pronounced shy-nola) wants to change that. It is doing so at a price point that is unheard of in the timekeeping business, says its creative director, MrDaniel Caudill, who was in town earlier this month. The brand opened its first store in Asia at Robinsons Orchard.

Shinola is not compromising on quality either. Its watch components are produced by respected Swiss company Ronda, which supplies parts to other luxury watch companies.

However, the pieces are put together in Shinola's workshop in Detroit, Michigan. The employees along the assembly line are trained by experts from Switzerland.

Mr Caudill says during the interview with Urban that the label makes margins that are only four times its costs. Shinola watches range in price from S$845 to S$1,165. He adds that the typical margins for luxury watches are about eight times.

"Our brand is authentic and it's about the people who make the watch. We're not going to pay celebrities to put our watches on," he adds.

The Detroit-based brand, which gets its name from a now defunct shoe polish brand, was started by MrTom Kartsotis, who also founded the Fossil watch company.

Its signature model, the Runwell, has a vintage-style look with large numbers, stainless-steel frames and leather bands. The other watch models - Birdy, Brakeman and Gomelsky - are similar in design.

"The intention was always to make it simple. When we design something, it's not about making things that people want for the next six months, but things that they'll want for years," says Mr Caudill.

Until Shinola was launched, there were very few companies making luxury watches in the United States. Companies that did so, such as Elgin and Waltham, had long folded. Another label, Hamilton, is now part of the Swatch Group.

The privately owned Shinola does not disclose revenue figures, but in an interview with Fox News, its chief executive Steve Bock says the brand is expected to produce about 50,000 watches this year at an average of US$600 (S$758) each.

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