by Joe Henry | April 04, 2018
Until recently, employers who wanted to gift their employees with a Shinola watch were out of luck. 

But in March, Shinola became exclusively available in the reward and recognition market through wet paint group, which will put together events where award-winning employees can select from among four different Shinola models for men and four for women.

Shinola had been actively looking for an exclusive partnership with a gift agency, said wet paint founder Doug Chorpenning. At each Shinola event, wet paint puts together a collection of watches. These will include the Runwell (pictured above), which is Shinola's signature watch, and the Canfield. The Runwell is a durable classic, with clean, timeless styling. It's available in different color combinations and sizes. And while each Runwell has a similar look, different models have different nuances -- a date window in some, a moon dial in others -- to make them each unique. 

The Canfield also boasts a clean look with a vintage aesthetic. These chronographs are the first Shinola model with top-loaded construction, where all the components are loaded through the front of the piece. 

What drew Shinola to wet paint, Chorpenning says, was his firm's ability to tell the brand story as part of the event. While the high-end watches are no doubt beautiful creations, Shinola has an underdog origin story that resonates.

It was founded in 2011 by Tom Kartsosis, who began Fossil in the 1980s. After selling his Fossil stock in 2008, he decided to launch a company that used the unemployed yet skilled labor in Detroit to assemble the watches - as well as bicycles and leather bags and accessories. As the story goes, investors were skeptical, with one handing Kartsosis the old insult, "You don't know sh*t from Shinola."

And suddenly, Kartsosis had a name for his fledgling company, Chorpenning says. After acquiring the rights from the company that owned the former shoe polish brand's name, Kartsosis was ready for business -- in a city undergoing its own rebirth and reimagining.

That compelling tale is as much a part of a Shinola event as its fashionable watches, says Chorpenning, adding, "Stories are in our DNA."