My pocket psychology take is that we love anachronisms because they’re imperfect. Like humans are imperfect. We form relationships with people who are flawed all the time. Flaws, imperfection, and worse are all part of the human condition. Tools that embody them resonate.
It’s hard to engineer this, though, but it’s worth cherishing when you have it. Don’t be so eager to iron out all the flaws. Maybe those flaws are exactly why people love your product.
[I’d go a step further and say it can’t be engineered. Like an antique, the passage of time combined with use (and sometimes abuse) tells a story. Adding a distressed finish is a thin veneer that only says “we like things that tells stories”, but has no story of its own. I think trying to engineer imperfection would go the same way. I do think you can measure and engineer some aspects of wear into items, and that can be valuable addition in many cases. But that’s not the same as trying to create something that looks but is not authentically old. In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of “restoration” when it’s defined as making something look (and maybe act) as if it were brand new despite it’s age. I find the endeavor and skills fascinating. I love when people resurrect something that was otherwise on the verge of not existing. But only from afar, as a testament to the skills of the restorer. I’d much rather have something that is wonderful and new and through use, and love, and time build my own stories into it. There’s nothing like it.]