In honor of classic sailboat racing that has defined the Great Lakes region for more than a century, Shinola has created a limited edition Mackinac Yacht Watch Automatic.
The $3,500 timepiece is an automatic chronograph with a regatta timer, a wristwatch designed for competitive recreational sailing.
The watch has a unique 40mm square, stainless-steel case.
A canary yellow dial contrasts with orange and red details and a three-tone blue yacht timer. It has a ridged rubber strap and a 10 ATM rating, indicating the watch can endure depths of 100 meters, or 330 feet. (ATM technically stands for atmosphere, which indicates the amount of pressure a watch can withstand.)
A chronograph watch features sub-dials and pushers on the side that allow the wearer to track additional intervals of time. Specifically, for a competition such as the Bayview Mackinac Race that begins Saturday, the sub-dial features 5-minute increments to help skippers track the minutes and seconds leading up to the start of a sailboat race so they cross at just the right time with maximum speed.
Cross too soon, and they’re penalized.
Joel Layton, Shinola vice president of e-commerce marketing and digital strategy, told the Free Press that as the company approaches its first decade in Detroit, it wants to become more ingrained in the fabric of the city known for manufacturing — and competitive sailing and yachtsmanship.
The prestigious Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit started the iconic Bayview Mackinac Race in 1925, attracting competitors from all over the country and the world. The club continues to sponsor the race, which is the longest consecutively run freshwater race in the world. Shinola is one of the new sponsors this year.
“Our designers started thinking about the state of Michigan itself and came up with the concept of something around the lakes, designing a watch that would have that ethos,” Layton said. “You think about sailboats and mechanics and precision. This creation pays tribute to the precision of sailing.”
This watch was designed and built in Detroit, and made with Swiss and imported mechanical parts, Shinola said. Its workers assemble leather and watch products on the fifth floor of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.
One of the lead designers is the son of a sailor, Layton said.
This will be the first Shinola watch with a square face, he said.
The standard price range for its watches is $325 to $1,550.
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
The watch announcement Saturday coincides with the start of the Bayview Mackinac Race from Port Huron to Mackinac Island, which usually lasts 30 to 60 hours.
Sailors from throughout Michigan, the U.S. and Canada begin crossing the starting line around noon Saturday as they race more than 200 nautical miles from Port Huron to Mackinac Island along Lake Huron.
The wristwatch goes on sale to the public Saturday at Shinola stores throughout the country and online at shinola.com. In its 441 W. Canfield location in the Cass Corridor, the Detroit-based company will also serve customers (over 21) Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktails from noon to 4 p.m. to celebrate the start of the Bayview Mackinac Race. The cocktail, made with dark rum and ginger beer over ice with a slice of lime, is popular among sailors.
The Dark ‘n’ Stormy has its origins in a Ginger Beer factory that was run by the Royal Naval Officer’s Club in the U.K., according to sailingscuttlebutt.com.
“The sailors discovered sometime after World War I that a splash of the local Gosling’s Black Seal rum was a great addition to the Ginger Beer,” the sailing news site said. “As for the name the Dark ‘n Stormy, it was coined by a sailor who, while enjoying the cocktail, commented that it was the color of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under.”
A new twist on a Rolex tradition
Shinola is also offering three watches as prizes in a competition within the race called “Race to the 45th Parallel,” for boats on the Shore Course, Cove Island Course and Multihull racer division that cross Lake Huron at the 45th Parallel with the fastest corrected time (based on a formula sort of like a golf handicap).
The 45th Parallel is often cited as the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole. Marker signs on land may be found in or near Leland, Sutton’s Bay, Bellaire, Gaylord, Atlanta and Alpena, according to travelthemitten.com.
Transponders on the boats will electronically register the data and winners will be announced at the big island party on Tuesday. In yacht races globally, performance watch manufacturers have historically played a role as sponsors that offered prizes.
“Back in the day, it was a huge deal if the boat won a Rolex and the boat owner presented it to a long-term crew member,” said Chris Clark, chairman of the 2022 Bayview Mackinac Race. “Shinola is bringing this tradition to the Bayview Mackinac Race.”
Editor’s Note: Family members of reporter Phoebe Wall Howard compete in the Bayview Mackinac Race as members of the Port Huron Yacht Club. She is not affiliated with the Bayview Yacht Club or the Bayview Mackinac Race in any official capacity.