Silly Putty Turns 71 And Shinola Takes Note

The Silly Putty Detrola from Shinola.

Stretch it, bounce it, shatter it, twist it or float it. Who doesn’t remember their first plastic egg of Silly Putty and all the fun things that pliable, rubbery goo could do?

Without dating myself too severely, I will say that I have fond memories of the stuff—particularly the way it could transfer comics and newsprint, which was perhaps a prescient act foretelling my career in journalism. Or maybe it was just fun, in those pre-soy-based-ink days. In any case, the iconic toy is celebrating its 71st birthday this month, and Shinola has created a new Detrola watch in its honor: Silly Putty Detrola.

The Shinola Detrola

The Detrola watch collection was first introduced by Shinola in 2019, and each member of the timepiece family is hand assembled at the company’s Detroit manufactory, which opened in 2011. The watches feature round 43mm cases with stainless steel cores, and they are fitted on soft and flexible silicone straps with a quick-release component that makes it a snap to change from one enticing color to another.

The new Silly Putty Detrola comprises all the characteristics of its forebears, as well as a memorable provenance and a uniquely colorful palette.

The watch’s shiny cherry-red case is crafted from TR90 resin, known for its strength, and its color, of course, is the shade of the original plastic Silly Putty egg. Inside, the Argonite 705 quartz movement, hand-assembled in Detroit with Swiss and other imported parts, drives the hours, minutes, seconds and calendar at 3 o’clock. Incidentally, the Argonite 705 powers all the watches within this popular collection.


The dial does an amazing job, I think, of capturing the original Silly Putty’s flesh-colored hue. Its simple verbiage reads, “Shinola/Detroit” and “Detrola,” a company-coined portmanteau that memorably melds the watch’s notable origins. The large Arabic numerals are in aqua, as is the silicone strap and seconds hand; the hour and minute hands—with Super-LumiNova detailing—match the case. K1 crystal, a durable and scratch-resistant mineral crystal, covers the whole shebang.

The Silly Putty Detrola is a fun and satisfying collectible for watch and contemporary design fans—or those who appreciate a wrist-born dose of nostalgia. Its slim box with a foam insert is enjoyment all its own, showcasing colorful graphics and engaging design. That’s a lot of entertainment for $395.

Other watches in the Detrola collection include models with such provocative names as The Burnout, The Middle Child, The Radio Flyer and The Gummy Worm, each moniker begging for further investigation. There’s even an I Voted Detrola, introduced last fall, which is, you guessed it, in red white and blue.

Fun Facts About Silly Putty: The Making of an Icon

Silly Putty could be used to transfer newspaper images to other surfaces when newspaper ink was petroleum based.

Since 1950, well over 300-million eggs of Silly Putty have been sold.

In 1968, Silly Putty was taken into space by the Apollo 8 astronauts.

The Silly Putty brand is owned by Crayola.

In 2001, Silly Putty was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Today, Silly Putty is available in a variety of colors, including metallic.

I have been in the publishing industry for over 20 years and have written extensively about writing instruments, watches, jewelry and accessories for consumer and trade


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