Back when I reviewed the Filson Journeyman GMT, I noted that, while I liked the watch, the world timer bezel was rather difficult to manipulate (due to a combination of a tough spring and not much area to grip). Today, we are going to take a look at a version that has made some improvements to that bezel – the Shinola Rambler.
Now, if you are at all familiar with the Detroit auto industry, it should be no surprise to learn that Shinola has released their own-branded watch that utilizes the Argonite 515.24H quartz movement. So, yes, internally, the Shinola Rambler is identical to the Filson Journeyman. When it comes to the look and feel of the watches, though, they are quite different. Let’s start with the bezel, since that was a sticking point for me on the Filson.
With the Shinola Rambler, the bezel has changed from one that indicates world cities to being a simple 24-hour bi-directional one. That’s right, bi-directional. We are so used to uni-directional bezels that derive from dive watches that this is of note. In this situation, the stronger spring is of benefit. For one, it means you are not as likely to bump the bezel and move it. Second, it gives you a strong, solid click into the hour, keeping things aligned with the dial. And, while the profile of the bezel is pretty thin, I found it easy enough to grip and get set.
This surrounds a dial that has been changed from the Filson as well. Things are a bit bolder with the numbers and indices contrasting against the solid dial (which also does not have the angled rehaut of the Filson). In our case, we opted to take a look at the blue dial, as it was reminiscent (to me) of the first Shinola watch I checked out, the Shinola Brakeman. This color worked well to my personal preferences (f that’s not the same for you, there are four other schemes), and it presented a crisp contrast to the white numerals and indices, as well as the orange GMT hand being very easy to pick out. I was a little surprised that the orange did not make its way to the lightning bolt engraved into the crown, but otherwise, I thought the color usage was done well.
Another surprise was hiding in the main handset – the minutes hand is polished, while the hour hand has a matte finish. As this does not make a noticeable impact in telling one apart from the other (that’s what the length difference is for), I am not quite sure why they did this. I suppose it makes it different from other watches, but it ultimately just make it seem like a manufacturing mixup, albeit a fairly insignificant one.
Another set of changes from the Filson involves the date window. Here, on the Shinola Rambler, it is back in the traditional 3 o’clock position. While visually it might seem like you’d want it bumped a little more towards the edge of the dial, it’s place in a way that does not cut off the indice found there, which is a nice touch. We also see that there is a cyclops over the date window. While this is not something that I consider to be a “must have” by any means, I have certainly come to appreciate the utility that they represent.
While both the Shinola Rambler and it’s Filson cousin share a case dimension (44mm), I found that the Shinola ended up wearing much larger. It was still a comfortable watch (104g), and the 22mm leather strap held things in place simply enough. While it has a natural finish (in terms of color to it), it remains to be seen if it will age and darken light a natural leather belt will. For myself, I might opt for a darker brown strap regardless. I do want to call out the lugs here. It seems like Shinola was going for a “fixed lug” sort of a look, with how they curve in as they do.
This is something I am not quite sure that I am a fan of. On one hand, the idea sounds good, as it’s a style we do not often see. In the execution is where it breaks down a little for me. This is due to where the inner edge of the lug is versus where the edge of the strap is found. These do not quite align, especially when it is on your wrist, so the effect is thrown off a bit. The thing is, it would be tricky to get this alignment right (without going to actual fixed lugs), even with a one-piece strap. Not impossible, but tricky. Perhaps this is an area Shinola can look to adjust in a future iteration.
I will admit – that is a rather small detail, so some might consider it splitting hairs. These are the sort of things you start to pick up when you handle a lot of watches. Additionally, if you’re the sort of person who appreciates details like these, its worth calling them out as a point of consideration when you are researching your next watch purchase. Would this lug configuration prevent me from recommending the watch to someone who liked the style? No, not at all. It’s just something that I felt could be improved on a bit.
That all said, the Shinola Rambler was a fun one to spend time with. I do love a good GMT watch, and this particular color palette from Shinola has become my favorite. It’s also nice to have another option from the brand with the GMT, as the Shinola Rambler does present quite a bit differently from the Filson we saw previously. The price is another shared detail between the watches – $750. If I were to chose between the two models, I’d probably opt for the Shinola Rambler, mostly due to the fact of how the bezel operates. That aside, there are definitely details in both that are worth consideration. shinola.com
- Brand & Model: Shinola Rambler
- Price: $750
- Who’s it for?: You like the Shinola story, and you find yourself traveling around a good bit
- Would I wear it?: Yes, I very likely would. It’s a tad larger than I prefer, but I’m a sucker for a GMT
- What I’d change: The lugs – they need some fine tuning
- The best thing about it: As with the Filson, that it’s one of the first GMT models we’ve seen come from Shinola