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Culture

Greek-American Greg Verras, Shinola Watch Designer, Featured in InsideHook

September 16, 2021

DETROIT – Greek-American Greg Verras, Shinola watch designer, was featured in InsideHook for having a hand in the company’s successes and also weathering the “ups and downs,” as Shinola rebuilt its reputation by “producing some of the most desirable timepieces in their class.”

“The 40-year-old watch designer, who started at the company just a few months before it launched in 2011, has been the design director for watches since 2019,” InsideHook reported, adding that “he was there when, in 2016, the FTC told Shinola to stop using the phrase ‘Where American is Made,’ noting that the watches are made largely of imported materials, and thus should not have labels that evoke the ‘Made in America’ sentiment (even if they’re assembled in Detroit); during the review, Shinola also began adding the phrase ‘Swiss and Imported Parts’ alongside their ‘Built in Detroit’ slogan.”

Verras “was also there when, around the time of the ruling, a number of unflattering portrayals of the company were released, including an Inc. feature that called it ‘America’s most authentic fake brand,’” InsideHook reported, noting that “after that, the herd mentality took over and Shinola, a company championed by regular Americans and presidents alike, appeared to be on the outs.”

“The chip on the shoulder was existing already I think in a lot of ways,” Verras told InsideHook, when asked about “whether he felt the need to prove Shinola’s worth after the FTC fallout.”

“It added an additional chip on the shoulder, motivation to keep going forward and dig our heels in and just keep making beautiful stuff that people love – and that everything will be OK,” Verras told InsideHook.

“Based solely on design — in a watch market that is dominated by the milquetoast utility of Apple and other smartwatches on accessible end and the ‘we can release anything and people will still buy it’ mentality of high-end makers like Rolex and Patek Phillipe — Shinola is more than OK. They’re thriving,” InsideHook reported.

Among the fans of Shinola, This Is Us actor Sterling K. Brown who “was interviewed by Hodinkee this year,” and called his Shinola Runwell “a ‘statement’ watch that is also his ‘go-to easygoing choice,’” InsideHook reported.

“According to Verras, Shinola’s outlook on watchmaking has never changed with the times, good or bad,” InsideHook reported, adding that “he says it’s always been about two things: ‘creating quality products’ and ‘creating opportunity and jobs and job training and believing in manufacturing in Detroit.’”

“As for the company’s especially fruitful period of the last five years, he partially attributes that to the release of the first automatic in 2017,” InsideHook reported.

“We definitely had to up our game when we’re speaking to that consumer who is more discerning and going to notice more of the details that we put into it,” Veras told InsideHook of the first Monster watch. “We knew there were going to be a lot of eyeballs on it. With that pressure, we definitely took our time. It took two or three years to do that first one … Then once you set that bar you can’t go backwards. So I think maybe not something consciously noticed, but we always try to do better than our last project.”

“As for what the future holds, Verras says there will be continued focus on the Runwell, the brand’s flagship watch that now comes with an automatic movement, though he notes that quartz remains ‘super important’ to the company,” InsideHook reported.

“And more and more story continues to be important for us,” Verras told InsideHook, noting that “he’s talking about the story behind the watches.”

“As we’ve seen from the first decade of Shinola, it really is the end product not the behind-the-scenes turmoil that will define the future of the company,” InsideHook reported.

Shinola was founded in 2011 by Greek-American Tom Kartsotis. The company’s first watch was released in March 2013.

Among the fans of Shinola watches are former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. President Obama in 2016 also presented a special Shinola watch, engraved with the Presidential seal on the back and with a case also featuring the seal, to then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Washington Post reported.

More information about Shinola watches is available online: shinola.com.

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