December 13, 2022
While some people are quick to dismiss Shinola because the brand produces a number of items other than wristwatches and is intended to have widespread appeal, I think that it’s important to discuss Shinola’s offerings because they represent timepieces as they exist on a more mainstream level, and they can often be the watches that first give someone the bug that ultimately turns them into a collector. That said, many of the brand’s recent releases have taken on a noticeably more enthusiast-driven angle, and when Shinola announced the new Monster GMT in Dark Olive on Black Friday 2022, the overall package looked quite promising. Even without seeing the watch in person, I could tell that there would be a few minor things that I wished had been done differently on it. However, the same could be said about most watches, and with a design that checked a lot of familiar boxes without seeming too derivative, I was curious to see how I would feel about the new Shinola Monster GMT once I got a chance to spend some time with it in the metal.
Crafted entirely from stainless steel, the case of the Dark Olive Monster GMT measures 40mm in diameter by 12.3mm thick, and this includes the flat sapphire crystal that slightly sticks up above the rim of its bezel. The lugs are set 20mm apart and they extend to give the watch an overall lug-to-lug profile of approximately 48.8mm, once you factor in the way that their tips taper into points. From the front, the case appears to be a fairly standard shape, but when you look at it from the side, you can see that the edges on the bottom side feature large bevels that angle toward the caseback and ultimately provide it with a much more dynamic form compared to the slab-sided cases that define many other sports watches. While the top surfaces of the lugs and the wide bevels on the bottom edge of the case receive a brushed finish, the horizontal sides of the case are high-polished for an added touch of refinement.
Protecting the dial is a flat sapphire crystal, which is surrounded by a 120-click bidirectional bezel that has a coin-edge outer ring and a brushed stainless steel insert. The bezel insert itself features a black 24-hour scale with a luminous inverted trapezoid to denote the zero-marker, and while I personally think that the design of the bezel looks quite good with its vintage Explorer II vibes, it would have been nice to see it feature 48-click or 96-click motion to better correspond with its GMT functionality. Alternatively, the bezel could have simply been fixed, as the movement features independently adjustable hour hands, although this is a very minor quibble and not something that actually impacts functionality unless you are trying to track time zones that operate on a partial hour offset. Sitting between two crown guards at the 3 o’clock location is a signed screw-down winding crown, which works together with a screw-on display caseback to help create 100 meters of water resistance. Secured to the middle case by four small crews, the stainless steel caseback features a circular brushed finish, and it is fitted with a sapphire display window that offers a view of the internal movement. Shinola isn’t afraid of making large watches, and compared to many of its offerings, the 40mm case of the Monster GMT feels downright conservative. That said, it also feels entirely appropriate for this watch, and I personally think that this smaller format ultimately offers a superior wearing experience compared to the brand’s 43mm Monster dive watches.
Given how this type of timepiece paired with this particular style of bezel can undeniably create some aesthetic parallels to the Rolex Explorer II, I appreciate how Shinola opted for a style of dial that would immediately set the Monster GMT apart and ensure that it didn’t run the risk of being considered a homage watch. Featuring a matte sunburst finish in a Dark Olive color, the dial features large applied Arabic numeral hour markers with geometric shapes at the cardinal points and a date window at 3 o’clock. Framing the dial is a contrasting silvery white angled rehaut that contains the minute track, while the Shinola name and logo appear printed below the 12 o’clock marker. The dial fitted to the Shinola Monster GMT offers what most would consider to be a field watch style layout, and this gives the model a fairly casual appearance when combined with its prominent brushed stainless steel bezel.
At the center of the dial are four hands, and here lies what will likely be one of the aesthetic sticking points for some people. While the standard 12-hour hand, along with the minute hand and seconds hand offer fairly standard, tapered baton shapes with polished surfaces and relatively proportional sizing, the GMT hand is quite short and features a green shaft with a bright orange arrow-shaped tip. Some may take issue with the fact that the shade of green chosen for the hand doesn’t match the dial, while others will likely object to its small size, which is roughly the same overall length as the local 12-hour hand. Since the corresponding scale for the GMT hand is located all the way on the external bezel, having a short hand isn’t exactly ideal when it comes to overall legibility. In reality, the short size is likely due to the design constraints of the movement and the height of its hand-stack. The GMT hand sits quite close to the surface of the dial, and it would likely come into contact with the applied hour markers if it were significantly longer. That said, had a secondary 24-hour sale been printed along the interior of the hour markers, the size of the hand would have been entirely proportional, and it would have also enabled the bezel to be used to quickly access a third time zone without losing the reference scale for the others.
All four of the hands, plus each one of the hour markers and the inverted trapezoid on the bezel receive an application of blue-glowing luminous material, and while they don’t offer Seiko diver levels of brightness, they still significantly exceeded my expectations and are easily viewed in low-light settings. To add a small splash of contrasting color to the watch, both the tip of the seconds hand and the “GMT” signature on the lower half of the dial and the tip of the GMT hand appear in a bright orange color, and this further adds to the relaxed and casual nature of the Dark Olive version of the Shinola Monster GMT. Compared to the previous blue model that had a matching blue ceramic bezel, the new Dark Olive edition offers a noticeably more casual and utilitarian aesthetic, and it could almost be seen as a more capable and travel-oriented version of a classic field watch.
Powering the Dark Olive Shinola Monster GMT is the Sellita SW330-2 automatic movement. As the go-to option for Swiss-made GMT movements, the SW330-2 is very much a known quantity within the industry, and it runs at a rate of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. As a “caller style” GMT movement, both the date and GMT hand can be set independently from the time while the crown is in the secondary setting position, and while I would have personally preferred a “traveler-style” GMT movement with an independently adjustable local hour hand — especially given the sporty intentions of the watch, the Sellita SW330-2 is ultimately a highly practical option when it comes to maintenance costs and ease of serviceability. On the version fitted to the Shinola Monster GMT, blued screws and perlage on the bridges help to give it a more elevated appearance, while the movement itself is fitted with a black-finished Shinola oscillating weight, and all of this is visible through the sapphire display window in the caseback.
The Shinola Monster GMT comes with both a stainless steel bracelet and a single-piece fabric strap made from #tide recycled ocean plastic. While very little information was offered in the initial press release about either option, both ultimately exceeded my initial expectations. The stainless steel bracelet features completely solid links with brushed top surfaces, polished sides, and a machined folding clasp. The links themselves taper from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm where they connect to the clasp, and each link articulates at two separate places, which allows the bracelet to fluidly conform to the shape of your wrist. While the removable links are held together with pins rather than screws and the clasp is ultimately of the friction-fit variety rather than having an integrated latching mechanism like a push-button release, the overall action of the clasp is far superior to most similar designs. Additionally, built into the clasp is an extension system that offers eight positions of incremental adjustment that can be accessed by pressing the small circular button located on the interior of the clasp.
Meanwhile, the included fabric strap is a matching Dark Olive color and it has quick-release springbars sewn into its construction, meaning that rather than just being a standard pass-through style strap, it essentially clips into the lugs of the watch, while still offering the added security of protecting against springbar failure. Since quick-release springbars are built into the fabric strap and the end-links of the bracelet feature an integrated quick-release design, owners can carry both the strap and bracelet with them and swap between the two options within seconds, and without having to use any tools or even worry about removing spring bars, due to the fact that both the strap and the bracelet have their own connection pins built into them. Screw-in links and a push-button release for the clasp would have made the bracelet a home run, but it’s definitely more than serviceable, and I’m also a fan of the fabric strap, which offers a design that could almost be seen as a more evolved form of the fabric straps fitted to modern Tudor watches, where they have loops for the springbars built directly into them. Regardless, the fact that both options are included with the watch is ideal, and since the case of the watch features standard 20mm lugs, a virtually endless list of third-party options is also available.
Aside from a few minor quibbles regarding things such as the number of clicks for the bezel and the proportions of the GMT hand, I’m a fan of the new Shinola Monster GMT in Dark Olive. One of my favorite watches of all time is the vintage Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655, and this almost feels like the modernized American version that has an olive green field watch dial. Given that it has an official retail price of $1,995 USD, there are certainly less expensive ways to get your hands on a watch with the same movement and comparable functionality. However, you can also do quite a lot worse when it comes to watches with Swiss-made GMT movements at this price point, and if the average non-enthusiast were to encounter the new Monster GMT, I’d be willing to bet that they would at least start to look down the rabbit hole of watches, and that really might be the most important thing that this new model brings to the table. In the same way that you need enthusiasts making watches for other die-hard enthusiasts, you also need big companies with mainstream appeal creating well-made watches that can catch the eye of a larger demographic because this is ultimately what brings more people into this hobby and helps grow this industry. For more information on the Shinola Monster GMT in Dark Olive, please visit the brand’s website.