Back in April, Shinola posted a photo of a non-existent watch on its Instagram account as a playful April Fools’ joke. Named the Runlate, the hypothetical timepiece was a rendition of its flagship Runwell model that swapped out each one of the hour markers for the word “LATE” on its dial. While the caption for that original April Fools’ post closed with the words, “coming to Shinola stores never” as a playful reminder that the post was intended to be a joke, that original statement has turned out to not entirely be true. Following an overwhelming number of responses from people saying that they would actually like to own the watch pictured in the Instagram post, Shinola has turned its April Fools’ joke into a reality, and as its latest new release of 2023, the Detroit-based brand has created a real-life version of the Shinola Runlate watch that will be available to the public as a limited edition of just 100 examples.

From an external case perspective, the new Shinola Runlate is essentially the exact same watch as the brand’s classic 41mm Runwell model, which means that it features a circular case crafted from polished stainless steel that measures 41mm in diameter by 10.1mm-thick. Just like the brand’s standard Runwell watches, the new limited edition Shinola Runlate features a double domed sapphire crystal above its dial, a solid screw-on caseback engraved with each watch’s serial number, and a signed pumpkin-shaped crown at 3 o’clock that screws down to the case in order to help guarantee the model’s 50 meters of water resistance.

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Just like the standard 41mm Runwell model, the wire-style lugs of the limited-edition Shinola Runlate are set 20mm apart, and they are connected to the caseback structure of the watch, instead of just being integrated into the shape of the middle case. Since the lugs stick out from the bottom of the watch and further curve downward, the Runlate benefits from having a very flat caseback profile, and this allows the case itself to sit incredibly flush against the wrist. Fitted to the 20mm lugs is a brown leather strap that is cut and sewn in America, and completing the strap is a chunky stainless steel buckle that is signed on the underside edge with Shinola’s signature orange lightning bolt logo.

Featuring a crisp white surface, black printing, small orange accents, and a running seconds register at 6 o’clock, the dial of the new Shinola Runlate offers an overall design and layout that is similar to the standard white-dial Runwell model. However, rather than having large Arabic numeral hour markers, each of the twelve indexes has been replaced by the word “LATE” to serve as a subtle reminder to enjoy the moment, even if it means running slightly behind schedule. Just like the standard Runwell models, the centrally-mounted hour and minute hands are finished with Super-LumiNova, while bright orange highlights appear within the running seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock to add balance against the brand’s orange lightning bolt logo that sits opposite it below the 12 o’clock marker.

Powering the Shinola Runlate watch is the brand’s Argonite 1069 high-accuracy quartz movement, which is hand-assembled in Detroit using Swiss and other imported components. The Argonite 1069 movement is essentially just Shinola’s version of a familiar Ronda quartz caliber design, and while it may not be the most interesting from a horological perspective, it does promise to deliver proven reliability and maximum convenience when it comes to how the Runlate is likely to integrate into most people’s lives. As a fun and playful novelty piece, the Runlate may be purchased by many collectors as a weekend or vacation watch, and being powered by a quartz movement guarantees that owners will not need to set the Runlate each time they want to wear it.

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Despite receiving quite a lot of interest from collectors when it originally appeared as an April Fools’ joke, a fun and slightly irreverent watch such as the Runlate was never destined to become a core-collection model, and it will instead be produced as a limited edition of just 100 pieces. Additionally, despite its small-batch numbers, the new Shinola Runlate is essentially just a dial variation of the standard-production 41mm Runwell model, and it is therefore accompanied by the exact same retail price of $595 USD. Over the years, there have been a number of watch designs created as April Fools’ jokes that I actually wouldn’t mind owning, and given that the Runlate was a watch that Shinola could actually produce relatively easily, it is encouraging to see the brand have some fun and bring their popular April Fools’ joke to life. For more information on the Shinola Runlate watch, please visit the brand’s website

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