This is SUPERLATIVE: A podcast about watches, the people behind them, and the worlds that inspire them. This week, our host and aBlogtoWatch Founder Ariel Adams is joined by Brandon Little, the Vice President of Design at Shinola. To start the show, Ariel asks Brandon a little bit about his role at Shinola, which leads into a discussion about the history of the Detroit-based, American brand and its more recent expansion into the luxury watch industry. From there, the conversation turns to the American watchmaking industry as a whole, along with some of the obstacles associated with bringing the manufacturing side of things back to the United States. After discussing what it actually means to be made in America, the discussion shifts to the concept of trust and why it is important for brands to build relationships with their customers, rather than just coming out with new products for them to purchase.
Ariel then asks Brandon about his experience attending a watch design academy program and the process of learning how to create timepieces that are aesthetically pleasing, ergonomically successful, and that still incorporate the brand’s unique core identity. Given that the watch industry is reliant on having fresh and passionate creative minds, Ariel asks Brandon what the industry can do to make itself more attractive to forward-thinking designers. After talking about the watch industry as a whole, Ariel and Brandon get into a discussion about Brandon’s time at Zodiac, his approach to unlocking a brand’s creative potential, and how he plans to incorporate Shinola’s unique history into the designs of the timepieces that it produces. The two then discuss what price point Shinola intends to occupy in the future, before getting into why Americans have an interest in mechanical watches, and why these reasons might differ from what compels Europeans to purchase and collect them. From there, Ariel and Brandon talk a little bit about the transition people make from first finding watches interesting to ultimately becoming hobbyists who spend money on them, and why it benefits the entire industry to facilitate this process and cultivate a greater sense of community. To end the conversation, the two talk a little bit about the future and what Shinola’s defining design characteristics will be as it continues to forge its aesthetic identity.
Stay Up-to-Date with Brandon Little and Shinola:
- 00:49 — About Brandon and his position at Shinola.
- 02:31 — Shinola as both a brand and watch manufacturer within the modern era.
- 08:47 — Watchmaking in America and the obstacles of bringing the production side of the industry back to the United States.
- 16:24 — Breaking down what it means to be made in America.
- 18:21 — The concept of trust and the importance of building a relationship with the consumer.
- 30:29 — Brandon’s experience attending a watch design academy program and the process of learning how to create aesthetically successful timepieces.
- 38:21 — What can the watch industry do to make itself more attractive to creative, forward-thinking designers?
- 43:44 — Brandon’s time at Zodiac and his approach to unlocking a brand’s design potential.
- 47:42 — How has Brandon adapted his historical approach to design for Shinola’s unique history and the passionate community that collects the brand’s watches.
- 55:18 — What price point does Shinola want to occupy in the future?
- 59:21 — Why Americans are attracted to mechanical watches and why these reasons might differ from what compels Europeans to purchase them.
- 01:03:01 – The leap from finding watches interesting to becoming hobbyists, and how the industry should collaborate to create a greater sense of community.
- 01:07:53 — What will be Shinola’s defining characteristics when it comes to its watch designs?