Most Americans born before 1980 recognize Shinola, a shoe polish marketed in the first half of the 20th century, for being name-checked in an alliterative figure of speech: “You don’t know s—t from Shinola.” But if Heath Carr has his way, the newest generation of Americans will associate the brand with well-built American-made watches. Revived in 2011, when Carr, the head of Bedrock Manufacturing in Dallas, purchased the intellectual property rights to the heritage brand—including its lightning-bolt logo—Shinola now makes quartz timepieces (and bicycles!) in a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art factory inside Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Due to make their global debut at this month’s Baselworld fair in Switzerland, where Shinola will show 45 SKUs retailing from $450 to $850, the watches employ parts that are supplied by Swiss movement maker Ronda but are 100 percent assembled in the college’s historic building, the Argonaut, which lends the Argonite movement its name. “The movement is the engine of the watch,” Carr says. “What better place to make the engine than the Motor City?”
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