Detroit-based watch and leather goods maker Shinola seized the synergy of Grammy Awards weekend to celebrate music legend Smokey Robinson — and a new collection that pays tribute to him — at its downtown Los Angeles store Thursday night in advance of Sunday’s ceremony.
The Detroit-born Grammy-winning singer was in the house for the big reveal — as was Alice Cooper, producer-manager Shep Gordon, tattoo artist to the stars Scott Campbell and a host of others moving in the entertainment industry orbit.
“Each year we want to honor an American treasure,” Shinola founder Tom Kartsotis told Robinson and the group of assembled friends, fans and luminaries, “and [over the years] we’ve had great [collections paying homage to] Americans such as Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou and Jackie Robinson. And I’m really, really honored to honor Smokey Robinson this year as our great American. Over the last 60 years it’s not just music you’ve affected, it’s the entire planet, and we’re happy you could be here.”
With that Kartsotis presented Robinson with a wooden box containing a wristwatch from the new collection; based on the brand’s Vinton model, it included a 38mm brushed stainless steel case, three-link stainless steel bracelet and a distinctive blue enamel dial. The watch face wasn’t the only part of the collection with the eye-catching color; it also pops up on a journal cover, a greeting card (printed with the song lyrics, “You’ve really got a hold on me”), a Runwell turntable and a wall clock in addition to a 32mm version of the Vinton.
According to a brand representative, the particular shade of blue resulted from the design team’s efforts to emulate the distinctive blue-green color of Robinson’s eyes. So when we found ourselves face to face with Robinson, we couldn’t help but ask if he thought they captured his eye color accurately.
“I accept whatever they got because it’s beautiful, just beautiful,” he answered with a wide smile. Robinson went on to say that despite his decades-long career — and distinct style both onstage and off (for which he credits his longtime L.A.-based tailor Si Beau), the Shinola watch collection marked his first foray into a fashion collaboration. As for whom he’d be most honored to see wearing one of the watches out in the wild, Robinson cast his net as wide as he could, answering, “Anyone you could think of!”
Although the limited-edition timepieces (only 1,000 of each size are being offered, at $950 each) won’t be available to mere mortals until Jan. 31, if you see a glint of silver and a flash of blue at Robinson’s wrist when he takes the stage as a presenter at Sunday night’s Grammys, you can bet that the shine is from a brand-new Shinola.
More information about Shinola’s Great American 2020 collection honoring Smokey Robinson can be found at the brand’s website.