Explorer’s heart (Faux Patina And The Commodification Of Experience)

So here’s a new thing that’s rattling around in my poor, overthinking brain…

I don’t know if I can enjoy faux patina anymore.

It’s shame, because it’s really having a moment. In fact, I’ve bought (and enjoyed!) a few of these brown/orange wonders over the past year or two.

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This all centers around my love of the 1016 Explorer. A classic, that, even were I handed a suitcase full of money, I would still probably feel uncomfortable buying (not to mention wearing!)

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Initially I grabbed a San Martin 36mm Explorer/Ranger mash up. A great watch! Handsome, well built, cool, BUT I found myself wearing it less and less. I wondered, “Is this because it’s not a ‘real’ brand? Because it’s an imitation?” And yes, that’s part of it (though Tudor doesn’t make a Ranger in 36mm, and 1016’s are out of production, so it’s justifiable-ish) It was more than that, though. That ORANGE HUE, was taunting me. Inflaming my imposter syndrome...

I still wanted my fix. I tried to get to the core of my desire, figure out, for me, what it was that I saw myself getting out of a 1016 and reverse engineer what was available that I would give me the most of that.

This week, Uncle Seiko send me an email with this image:

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Gorgeous! He’s made a lovely bracelet that makes the Murph look even better. It checks so many boxes: Small size, no date, design elevated hands, good power reserve, affordably serviceable movement, etc…

BUT

That text on the dial was never white.

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This is an insane thing to get under my skin, I know, but, something rubs me the wrong way. It didn’t earn that patina. It’s like… it’s like growing up in the 1970’s and having your favorite TV show be HAPPY DAYS. You didn’t grow up in the 50’s, that’s not your nostalgia, and you're swimming in this simulated kind of existence that never happened. It's buying an army jacket and thinking it makes you tough. What’s worse, I examined my own collection and at least a few watches in my regular rotation are guilty of the same thing!

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So then I’m down to my second choice - The Lorier Falcon. Which, in a lot of ways is less exciting to me because it is exactly what I think I want: The experience of buying a 1016 Explorer in 1968. It doesn’t have as much to say design-wise outside of a reverence for the original, but it’s pristine, and ready to have miles put on it.

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I think about these two watches (both of which I’d be happy to have, these are obviously first world problems, if not total neurosis) and I’m left wondering if either of them are worth leaving behind to a future generation. An imaginary father handing me the Rolex he wore through battle and romance, can I one day provide that with a micro brand’s attempt at recreating the past? With a watch conglomerate’s movie prop stolen valor?

Am I off the deep end, here?

Either way, watches are great! Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Hamilton vs. Uncle = I got what I needed. Thanks, folks!

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Reply
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Also! If you own either of these watches, PLEASE don't let my overly-analytical ramblings negate your experience. (AND, please tell me your positive experiences with these watches! I'd like to be happy with one!)

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I think faux patina is cool but nothing beats the real thing for sure

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Shananagins

I think faux patina is cool but nothing beats the real thing for sure

That's a good attitude.

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Shananagins

I think faux patina is cool but nothing beats the real thing for sure

Incidentally, my other front runner for the "Explorer Spot" in my collection was the baby alpinist you have. I can't remember why I took it out of the running. Too big maybe? How do you like it?

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88MilesPerHour

Incidentally, my other front runner for the "Explorer Spot" in my collection was the baby alpinist you have. I can't remember why I took it out of the running. Too big maybe? How do you like it?

At 13mm it’s a touch thick but I honestly only notice it when I’ve just worn a much thinner watch like my Tudor 1926. I actually think it’s an incredible watch for the money and my only complaint is the bracelet. Not only is it kind of cheap and hollow feeling (it has a bad squeak or rattle you’ll notice even after break in and washings) but the clasp is just unacceptably bad. Even at the same price point my Certina DS Action Diver and my tissot PRX and many other watches at same price point all have much much better bracelets and clasps. Once I swapped it onto a strap it immediately became one of my favorite watches ever though so if you’re on the fence I would definitely recommend it.

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Shananagins

At 13mm it’s a touch thick but I honestly only notice it when I’ve just worn a much thinner watch like my Tudor 1926. I actually think it’s an incredible watch for the money and my only complaint is the bracelet. Not only is it kind of cheap and hollow feeling (it has a bad squeak or rattle you’ll notice even after break in and washings) but the clasp is just unacceptably bad. Even at the same price point my Certina DS Action Diver and my tissot PRX and many other watches at same price point all have much much better bracelets and clasps. Once I swapped it onto a strap it immediately became one of my favorite watches ever though so if you’re on the fence I would definitely recommend it.

Excellent to hear. Thanks!

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Your thoughts on this topic are really appreciated and serve as an excellent contribution to the conversation. If you are looking for an “answer” though, or a “solution” to the problem, I would direct you no further than the first sentence of your post… you’re overthinking it!

As a few asides:

  • You highlighted an absolutely wonderful handful of watches in this post

  • I’m rather 50/50 on faux patina myself. Depending on the watch, it can look really cheap, and I don’t like the idea of “fake” patina. However, it can’t be denied that a brown/coffee/khaki color suits some watches incredibly well. This can be considered more of a stylistic choice than an attempt at a deceptively aged look.

  • It’s worth remembering that, in the case of many vintage watches, their patina is not only the result of wear & tear, but also the materials and techniques used to manufacture them. Old lume materials serve as a great example. Not only were some radioactive (radium), but they also aesthetically aged very rapidly and/or lost their luminescent quality. So their color was not necessarily a result of considerable age or use, but merely a consequence of their rapid “decay.”

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8thwatchman

Your thoughts on this topic are really appreciated and serve as an excellent contribution to the conversation. If you are looking for an “answer” though, or a “solution” to the problem, I would direct you no further than the first sentence of your post… you’re overthinking it!

As a few asides:

  • You highlighted an absolutely wonderful handful of watches in this post

  • I’m rather 50/50 on faux patina myself. Depending on the watch, it can look really cheap, and I don’t like the idea of “fake” patina. However, it can’t be denied that a brown/coffee/khaki color suits some watches incredibly well. This can be considered more of a stylistic choice than an attempt at a deceptively aged look.

  • It’s worth remembering that, in the case of many vintage watches, their patina is not only the result of wear & tear, but also the materials and techniques used to manufacture them. Old lume materials serve as a great example. Not only were some radioactive (radium), but they also aesthetically aged very rapidly and/or lost their luminescent quality. So their color was not necessarily a result of considerable age or use, but merely a consequence of their rapid “decay.”

Thank you!

And yes, fortunately I enjoy thinking too much about watches so this kind of agony is fun and not stressful (but yes, probably too much!)

I had a similar thought about the "coffee/khaki" color on the Murph. What do you think? Is it meant to read as patina, or is it a choice (or are they playing both angles?) The absence of a true white on the brand name leads me to believe it may actually be less of an "aged" effect and more of a color choice to celebrate their "khaki" line. But who knows?

Yes, good point on wear + tear vs. decay, though, surviving time is a kind of wear in itself!

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You are seriously overthinking this. Fauxtina is a made up word that “influencers” use to generate clicks/money. It’s just off white. I have a Seamaster 300 sandwich dial. If the indices in that watch were bright white it would be a high contrast eyesore. Instead they are a lovely cream color that looks great with either the blue or black dial, is easier on the eyes, still very legible and lends itself to the watches under the radar and low key vibe.

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Here it is on the matching Omega “fauxtina” nato strap. I’m even wearing my fauxtina pants in this picture.

Any of those watches would be great to hand down to your kids because they were yours and they will have memories of you wearing them. That’s the only important thing.

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RenaissanceTinker

You are seriously overthinking this. Fauxtina is a made up word that “influencers” use to generate clicks/money. It’s just off white. I have a Seamaster 300 sandwich dial. If the indices in that watch were bright white it would be a high contrast eyesore. Instead they are a lovely cream color that looks great with either the blue or black dial, is easier on the eyes, still very legible and lends itself to the watches under the radar and low key vibe.

Image

Here it is on the matching Omega “fauxtina” nato strap. I’m even wearing my fauxtina pants in this picture.

Any of those watches would be great to hand down to your kids because they were yours and they will have memories of you wearing them. That’s the only important thing.

Great watch!

I hear you, and yes, I am sort of taking my internal thoughts to a comical level in this post to exaggerate.

I do think watches are made with a story in mind though. There is a difference between your watch and say a Hamilton Pilot Pioneer. The Pioneer is being sold by Hamilton to evoke a feeling, the story that this is an antique that went to war and now you have it (or something to that effect.) Influencers may have popularized the term "fauxtina" but they did not invent advertising. And I assure you, Hamilton is aware of this.

But whatever, in the big picture it's not really important, and it just comes down to design and what you personally like. I'm just trying to talk out something and see if other people have noticed it / come to the same questions.