What is this obsession with heavy ageing? Who’s buying it?Zach Blass
A few weeks back, we shared photos of a heavily aged, and clearly forced-patinated, Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 Silver.
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Watch enthusiasts know all too well that the right amount of patinated elements on a watch can lead to a price premium. But when does patina go too far? For example, when is a dial tropical or water-damaged? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, but a common thread in the comments on the post above was that the heavy ageing the BB58 925 displayed was not particularly attractive because it was forced — and forced too far.
A small minority came to the comments to defend the heavily aged look of the forced silver case.
Perhaps the vendor combed the comments, and recognised the majority sentiment, because the very same product page url now displays the watch with a pristine silver case.
Watches are not the only commodities we are seeing these days where heavy ageing is desirable. In fact, some commenters aptly pointed out that distressing or faux-ageing has long been a part of the fashion world. But trends go in and out of style, and lately it appears it is making a comeback.
In our follow-up post on our Instagram, we placed the image of the aged BB58 925 against an image of the launch of a series of “destroyed” limited edition Balenciaga sneakers last month. Full disclosure, I own a pair of Balenciaga sneakers. But, for the price they command, I opted for a crisp and pristine pair. To pay far more — $1850 USD to be exact — seems absolutely insane, a sentiment many of you expressed in the comments. In fact, it is borderline offensive.
Many of you drew comparisons, at least in regard to Balenciaga’s “destroyed” sneakers, to the comedy film Zoolander, in which Ben Stiller’s character, Derek Zoolander, desperately wants to be the face of Will Ferrell’s villainous character Jacobim Mugatu’s hot new “Derelicte” campaign.
The joke, or comical commentary, of course, is the ridiculousness of presenting clothing with a hobo-homeless aesthetic as high-end expensive fashion — allegedly a direct parody of a collection presented by designer John Galliano in 2000. The concept is definitely off-putting, especially when you consider the wealthy indulging in such fashion are spending their money to look “fashionably poor” instead of actually trying to help people in need.
One thing a few commenters also pointed out is the fact this idea of heavy ageing at a premium also extends to the world of pens, knives and even guitars. Fender, for example, has a “relic” collection in which guitars, like the above, are custom-aged for sale. Apparently, Gibson also engages in a similar practice, with their Murphy Lab ageing guitars to mimic 1959 Les Pauls.
Forced heavy ageing: Where do I stand?
Some of you expressed that, at least when done tastefully, you are all for faux-ageing. For me, though, as well as many of you in the comments section, it is not particularly appealing when it is forced. If someone discovered a Panerai Bronzo while exploring the Titanic at the bottom depths of the ocean, then the above could be justified. But forced? I don’t see the appeal.
Heavily forced patina in the watch world, in my opinion, is as unappealing as pre-ripped jeans or jeans made to look like you spent a month painting a house with them on. I find there is a bit of stolen valour, so to speak, at play here. With watches in particular, we often find emotional connections with brands and references due to their heritage. Their rich backgrounds and usage throughout history — the Omega Speedmaster and its intertwinement to the story of the moon landing, for example.
To indulge in forced heavy ageing, at least in my opinion, would be as dishonest as a watch brand hypothetically making up an entire backstory and presenting it as history and heritage. Some brands are able to incorporate faux-tina tastefully, vastly different to DIY forced ageing, to be clear. But natural patina is never 100 per cent imitable, and it always looks better when it is developed naturally. Forcing is ultimately posing in my book. When it happens naturally there is integrity, and a development of honest and appealing contextual and aesthetic character to the timepiece in question.