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Watch & Learn: President Bill Clinton’s Shinola

All the details of the all-American watch

We’ve written about President Bill Clinton’s watch collection before, but when we spotted the politician wearing a Shinola Runwell at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, we voted to give him another term in office, as it were.

Clinton’s a big booster of the Detroit-based brand. He once bought 14 Shinola watches as gifts in one shopping trip. Like most politicians, Shinola has a great back-story: Fossil Inc. founder Tom Kartsotis started the company when he bought the rights to the heritage brand Shinola that was best known for producing shoe polish. Kartsotis wanted to bring watchmaking back to the United States, and what better location for a comeback story than the embattled city of Detroit? Shinola set up shop in the Motor City, where each Runwell is built using Swiss-made movements (in this case, the quartz Argonite 1069).

The company has expanded its collections, but the Runwell is still Shinola’s signature timepiece. While the company is only five years old, the watch has a distinctly vintage design. The model that Clinton is sporting here features a simple, polished stainless steel case with curved lugs and a fancy cushion-shaped crown. This serves as a nice frame for high-contrast dial with bold Super-LumiNova printed details. At 47mm it’s a big watch with large Arabic numerals and bold orange accents on the center seconds hand and sub dial hands. But there are subtle details as well: the sub-seconds dial decorative concentric circular engraving echoes the fluting on the crown.

The Shinola Runwell watch

Clinton is a known fan of substantial watches (he owns a couple of Panerais as well as a Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor) but he is also a man with the common touch. Likewise, the Runwell features deluxe elements, such as a curved sapphire crystal and a topstitched strap made by Hadley-Roma for Shinola, but by having these components assembled in Detroit, it also has a blue-collar coolness. Which explains why the Runwell is so popular amongst the hipster crowd. They can’t get enough of authenticity and heritage brands. It’s like when baby boomer CEOs first started wearing jeans to the office to show how down-to-earth they were.  Today’s startup millionaires don’t necessarily need to wear a $30,000 watch to show they’ve made it.