The Truth About Shinola, Tudor and the Detroit Grand Prix

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
the truth about shinola tudor and the detroit grand prix

When the word “truth” is in the title of the publication, there’s an obligation to keep things factual. Also, I have an ego and don’t like to make mistakes in public. Much of what I write about involves automotive history one way or another and it annoys me when I come across inaccurate sources. Someone may use my work as a reference, I want it to be accurate. Due to a press release from the Detroit Grand Prix that was in error, and some inattention on my part, there were some inaccuracies in my recent post about the Tudor and Shinola watch companies racing sponsorships and how they might conflict at this year’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

To begin with, Shinola watches will be awarded only to the winners of the two IndyCar races that weekend, not all race winners, as it said in the original CDBIGP press release and my post. The winners of the Pirelli World Challenge race and the Tudor United SportsCar Championship race will be awarded custom Shinola branded leather goods. In addition, my post quoted Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis regarding some market research showing that consumers favored “made in Detroit” products over Chinese or generic “made in U.S.A.” items of the same quality. While the quote was accurate, the attribution to Kartsotis was my error. An unnamed Shinola employee was the source of that quote. Kartsotis guards his privacy and apparently doesn’t give interviews. If you can find a photo of the man, let me know.

All parties involved say that Shinola and Tudor have a respectful relationship and will work out whatever issues may arrive in a respectful and professional manner. The situation has not appreciably changed since last year when Tudor’s corporate parent, Rolex, sponsored a race at the CDBIGP and Shinola was an event sponsor. In my post I mentioned that at a recent publicity event in connection with the Detroit auto show, drivers from the Indycar and Pirelli World Challenge races had visited Shinola’s Detroit watch assembly facility, where they were presented with Shinola watches. I noted that drivers from the Tudor United SportsCar Championship series had not participated. According the the CDBIGP, that had nothing to do with a sponsorship conflict but rather with the unarguable fact that the USCC drivers were busy with the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona race.

Shinola’s account manager at the Lovie George public relations agency also me asked to point out that only some of Shinola’s watches have been limited, numbered editions. Additionally, in my post I referred to a Shinola press kit on a thumb drive wrapped in leather and said that it had been sewn in Shinola’s Detroit factory. Shinola’s tagline is “where American is made” and they try to be transparent about their suppliers. The leather wrapping and sewing was not done in Detroit but rather by the Eric Scott company of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, one of Shinola’s supplier partners.

Finally, quoting publicity materials from the CDBIGP and Shinola, I said that Shinola was the official timepiece and timekeeper of the Detroit Grand Prix. On that later point, when I got a chance to tour Shinola’s Detroit watch assembly facility before last year’s race, I specifically asked if they were actually providing timekeeping services for the race or just paying a sponsorship fee. Race timekeeping seemed to be outside the core competencies of Shinola. I was assured that Shinola was indeed keeping time for the racing at the Grand Prix. Apparently that’s not actually the case. One of the things mentioned in the feedback that I got from the concerned parties was, “To clarify – Shinola is the official timepiece and timekeeper of the Grand Prix in name, not actual function.”

I’m a bit bemused about making the mistakes and chagrined that an attempt to say something positive about a company that has invested substantial amounts of money locating some of their production facilities in Detroit ended up in a flurry of emails and phone calls about clarifications and corrections. I guess a few nerves were touched and I suppose that a lot of dollars are involved in things like series and race sponsorships. My primary concern is, as mentioned, keeping things factual. Still, it’s nice to know that when we write about businesses like Shinola and Tudor, or events like the CDBIGP, that the people involved with those concerns pay attention to what we have to say.

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  • Dawnrazor Dawnrazor on Feb 05, 2014

    I think the "new" Shinola bought the rights to the "old" Shinola name. Perusing their web site ( I found that they are selling a range of leather care products including Shinola-branded shoe polish/cream, saddle soap, and mink oil. Their stuff looks great to my eyes (particularly the watches and bicycles), and I really like the idea of USA/Detroit-made, but the price premium one has to swallow for patriotic bragging rights IS a bit dear. Regardless, if they ever start offering watches with mechanical movements (I just can't wrap my head around paying >$500 for a quartz movement) I'll definitely be tempted.

  • Ellomdian Ellomdian on Feb 05, 2014

    Shinola is just the latest example of Nationalism taken to extremes - while they manufacture a quality product, its a VERY niche market. They are effectively peddling retro-fanaticism to jingoistic thrift-store urbanites. Most serious Watch-guys are dismissing them, and they will likely never compete in the same sphere as Tudor (a Rolex for watch-hipsters.) When the source of your product is as important to your branding as the actual quality of parts therein, you are selling flash as much as substance. The watch market is a fantastic example of this, as is the Hypercar one; there are many brands who have been around for a long time (decades in cars, literally centuries in some timepiece cases) - these are your Ferraris, your Pateks, and there are brands that were necro'd for whatever reason - Maybach, or Shinola. They desperately want to be the new Pagani - a stand out as one of the few legitimate upstart brands who has found success outside of their flash.

    • See 3 previous
    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 06, 2014

      @Johnson Schwanz I'm old school JS. If it costs more than a Timex, it's high end to me.

  • Dukeisduke Only if there's a significant price difference between it and the Lexus GX. Otherwise, no. If they do bring it over, they'll have to ditch that ugly grille.
  • Theflyersfan Chris here just gave me a big old dose of nightmare fuel with this. Let me explain... This past Saturday, driving home after doing some furniture shopping. I-64 Westbound is closed for extensive repairs in my part of Louisville so I had to take surface streets home. No problem as it's basically a straight shot from said furniture store to my domicile. Now, I had that recent spinal fusion surgery in my neck complete with four screws, some plates, artificial bone, and the chance that things might not have healed correctly so things are a bit tender and sore still. Driving home in a part of the area named St. Matthews when I pass a Walgreens. Barreling out of this Walgreens and totally ignoring the stop sign, and situational awareness of ANYTHING around him is a truck, very similar to the one shown above. Same color even. It's a four lane road - main drag through town. I'm in the inside lane and this 7,000 pound monstrosity is suddenly feet from turning an MX-5 into shrapnel. Top is down, had my wits, quickly downshift and manage to do a wild u-turn like move into the oncoming traffic lanes but avoided the hit. The neck, however, didn't like the strain and trauma and sent parts of my body into fits of limited sensations and pain. The truck driver, realizing what he's done suddenly stops. My top is down, windows are down, and we make eye contact as I pull alongside the person I have suddenly wished death on inside a flaming pit. And if I repeat the sentences of what was yelled at that jack***es face, I'll be on insta-ban here in milliseconds. He yells over, "Man, I'm sorry...I didn't see ya!" Well, ***face, learn what a stop sign means and scan the scene first. And get something that you can see over and in front instead of the blind spots that hide everyone under the age of 14 in front of the truck. So, I'm all for forcing these overdone, oversized, overfed, overstyled, guzzling, tiny-genital compensating redneck wannabe road monsters taken out back and put to rest and we return to normalcy. Made it home hurting like hell and tests were done today to check for further injury. And that Mazda can turn and spin on a dime... Try that move in that Sierra AT4XBZQZW8! whatever.
  • Dukeisduke I've read stories about that air suspension system - insanely high pressures, and crazy expensive to repair. I loved the Mark VIII's styling back then, but it definitely hasn't aged well.Also:"Mark VII was the first Mark available with dual front airbags..." Did you mean Mark VIII?
  • Kwik_Shift With qualified AA Californians set to get a million reparation dollars each, Tesla sales should soar then. 😏
  • Dukeisduke Six figures for what's basically a four-wheeled Slingshot? I don't they'll get a lot of takers, at least for on-road use.Does it have ABS or traction control? I imagine it's a snap to break the wheels loose.