An editorial hub
dedicated to the spirit of shinola.
July 28, 2016
July 28, 2016
Not every boy growing up in Detroit becomes fascinated with cars. But I did. I was seduced by sleek exotics, smoky burnouts, blistering quarter miles, and the never-ending quest for speed. In the mid 90s, when I first saw the photos of Craig Breedlove’s Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV, I was smitten.
It was a true jet car, and Breedlove was pursuing a land speed record of 700 mph. He was already the first man to reach 400, 500, and 600 mph, and he did it in cars designed with slide rules and pencils. What these cars lacked in technology had to be made up with sheer bravery. And so the immortal image of a pioneer in a racing suit standing by his jet car was seared into my brain.
Shinola honors that quest for speed with the limited edition titanium Rambler 600. As I cracked open the custom black box, the first thing I noticed was that this Rambler didn’t look at all like the previous Ramblers. Yes, the case is the same, but the metal bracelet and the unique bezel make it look like a completely different watch. It looks like it was plucked straight from that pioneering era - one that Craig Breedlove could have been wearing - or Chuck Yeager or Neil Armstrong. The brushed finish throughout gives it a subtle elegance and a utilitarian divers appearance.
The Rambler 600.
Despite it being only 44mm in diameter, the Rambler case has a lot of presence and looks bigger than it is. All of the printed elements are in bright white, and they stand out nicely against the deep black of the dial and bezel. It’s a modern take on a classic look that Shinola has successfully tapped on other models.
The two subdials nicely fill out the watch face. Even the date window at the 5 o’clock position blends into the background but is plenty useful as it’s easy to read. There is bright, usable lume on the hour markers, the numerals, and the wide hands. I also took note of the thick sapphire crystal that rises above the bezel like serious divers watches. The crystal edge is slightly rounded off, so it’s comfortable to the touch but should also provide some protection for the bezel.
However, it’s not until you take it out of the box that you understand the value of the titanium construction. It’s much lighter than you expect which makes it a pleasure to wear. It’s no surprise to me that titanium watches are pretty rare. The metal tends to be difficult to work with and adds expense to construction. But as car guys will tell you, in order to achieve faster speeds, you need to shed weight. Titanium achieves that. It’s also pretty much indestructible - a trait that you’ll appreciate when you’re counting on your equipment to survive harsh conditions.
Unboxing the Rambler 600 with Peter Von Panda.
The bracelet also reflects a lot of thought from end to end. It fills the space between the lugs for a one-piece look. The links are solid with soft, comfortable edges. The deployment clasp is robust and precise with the Shinola lightning bolt hiding underneath.
With the Argonite 5021 movement, the Rambler 600 features a chronograph, a required tool for the track or the salt flats. It has classic stopwatch elements such as the long third hand with a red tip and the thick, cylindrical pushers. To me, the pushers resemble engine pistons arranged in the classic 60-degree V, but that may just be my gearhead bias showing through.
The Rambler 600 also features a tachymeter on the fixed outer bezel. I love tachymeters because they’re so useful yet so simple. In conjunction with the chronograph, you can instantly determine the speed of any object. Despite tachymeters being somewhat obsolete in the age of ultra precise measurements and GPS, it’s still a relevant homage to Craig Breedlove’s land speed records and adds welcome detail to the thin bezel.
This may be the most technically challenging watch that Shinola has ever built, and you can see it and feel it as you wear it. The Rambler 600 is going to be limited to 1000 pieces. When you consider its rarity, the titanium construction, stunning classic design, and its tribute to the American spirit, this is definitely one Shinola that deserves to be on the wrist of a brave soul in a racing suit.