I’ll admit to feeling chuffed that on Ep. 51 of The Worn & Wound Podcast, Zach, Ilya and I predicted that fauxtina would soon move beyond aged lume into illusions of poetically degraded paints, metals, leathers, and more. While I thought Jean-Claude Biver—arguably today’s master of materials manipulation—would continue to trail-blaze via Zenith, Longines unexpectedly leapt to the front of the fauxtina trend at Baselworld 2018 with the Military Watch.Skipping lume all together, Longines has scattered flecks of black paint across the cream-colored dial to imitate patina. I can’t think of a more direct and inexpensive way to give a modern watch the appearance of age, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to do well. There’s surprisingly high skill involved when trying to get splattered paint to look genuinely random, let alone appear as subtle patina on a tiny watch face. Each Military dial sports a unique pattern, and the proportions, color value, and distribution of the flecks makes for a highly convincing illusion.
Behind the antiqued dial is Longines’ impressive L888 automatic movement, a genuine no-date machine with a 64-hour power reserve. Blue-steeled pear-shaped hands, a modest sans-serif numerical font, and a railroad track minute scale complete the dial’s vintage look. Meanwhile, the boxed sapphire crystal—arguably itself a faux-aged item as it mimics vintage acrylic crystals—is a perfect complement to the raised polished bezel and the brushed lugs and sides. Longines didn’t drill those lugs, however, which is a let down for a vintage-inspired watch that includes both an aged leather two-stitch strap and a khaki mil-strap. Also, you’ll have to beat up the 38.5mm case on your own.
The extension of fauxtina to all of a watch’s materials seems an inevitable trend given today’s vintage and re-issue craze. Just as aged lume has permeated nearly every brand’s catalog, we can expect ever more fauxtina. I predict everything from cheap and unconvincingly fauxtina’d big-box retail watches to six-figure recreations of storied individual watches, such as Sir Edmund Hillary’s Rolex and JFK’s inaugural Omega. Eventually we will come to appreciate the high craft of achieving quality fauxtina, and Longines did not disappoint as this year’s big-brand pioneer.
Fauxtina is paradoxical. For many of us, mechanical watches provide an escape from today’s ever mounting onslaught of digital simulations, yet fauxtina itself is a simulation. Fauxtina may make a brand new mechanical watch appear old, yet eliminating a slow and natural process in favor of an instantaneous illusion seems profoundly futuristic. Fauxtina raises interesting questions about what qualifies as real, and I expect that our debates over horological authenticity will only heat up as the fauxtina trend continues. If the Longines Military Watch does nothing more than inspire spirited discussions along these lines, it has accomplished more than most Baselworld 2018 novelties. Longines