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DESIGN
Baselworld 2014: Filson's First Watch Collection
Our first look at the in-development timepieces, built by hand with Shinola in Detroit
by Evan Orensten
on 31 March 2014
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The momentum at Filson is palpable and exciting. Our Cool Hunting Video visit to Seattle in June 2013 captured the brand’s new headquarters the week it opened and the company has continued to evolve their core products, launched a bicycle, a customized Jeep and just announced a new line of gear for photographers, designed with the celebrated Magnum Photos team. One of their most ambitious new launches is a watch collection, introduced this week—with impressive timepieces that are still in development—at the Baselworld watch show.

These watches were designed and developed taking into account the three pillars of Filson: Made in USA, built with purpose and built to last.

Manufactured in Detroit by sister company Shinola, the line introduces four collections—each based on a case design—and will launch with around 20 timepieces. We asked Alan Kirk (Filson’s CEO) to tell us a bit more about the effort. “We look at how products are used—whether people are hunting, fishing or traveling for work or in a more urban environment. These watches were designed and developed taking into account the three pillars of Filson: Made in USA, built with purpose and built to last. The Mackinaw collection is mostly aimed at the outdoorsman in the field or the working man. The RiverMaster collection for someone on or near water. The Journeyman is aimed at the traveler and the Bush Pilot, the explorer. We aim to provide the right watch no matter what the environment.”

He continues, “The watches are built with the highest quality components and with specifications of unfailing goods including anti-reflective sapphire crystals, 20ATM, screw-down crowns and highly durable Filson bridle leather and fabric straps… Made with the same tried and true durable materials Filson has used for more than a century—bridle leather, tin cloth, Mackinaw wool. The Filson watch collection is also backed by the Shinola limited Lifetime Guarantee, which means that under the Shinola warranty, any defects, excluding battery, leather strap and buckle, will be repaired or the watch will be replaced, free of charge."

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These aren’t just rebadged Shinola watches with the Filson name on the dial; each collection speaks authentically to the brand. The range of styles, materials and functionality—from chronographs to turning top rings and even a compass (included on a limited edition Mackinaw Field Watch)—is utterly impressive. The Journeyman collection was our favorite and features a GMT bezel, Bund strap and a stealthy black dial on a black metal band. (Just one watch from the collection—which is a prototype—is featured in our photographs. The others could not be photographed at the event.)

We continue to innovate to meet the lifestyle demands of customers no matter where they live and work.

Regarding all of the brand's recent growth, Kirk says, “Filson was originally founded to meet the needs of Gold Rush pioneers. Then we outfitted loggers, hunters, anglers and others who work in the outdoors. The way people live and work today has evolved; we’ve heard from former cowboys who now work in the oilfields of the midwest, for example. We have an extremely diverse customer base—all ages and with a huge range of occupations, interests and hobbies. We continue to innovate to meet the lifestyle demands of customers no matter where they live and work.” Kirk also shared news of an upcoming collaboration with Nigel Cabourn, which will focus on the leisure side of the Filson man—a range that is sure to be highly anticipated.

The Filson watch collection arrives in Filson and Shinola stores and online this October 2014, with prices starting at $550.

Additional reporting by David Graver, photos by David Graver

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