Actually, I have a specific question, but I’ll just make this a general Sunglasses thread.
I love my shades. I have two pair of Ray-Ban Aviators with grey/green lenses, one pair I got in- or just after high school with Ambermatic lenses, my old ones from the '80s that have the lenses replaced with variable-density prescription lenses, and my latest prescription glasses – also with auto-darkening lenses – that I ordered in Ray-Ban Aviator frames. I have a pair of Outdoorsman glasses, which are like Aviators except they have a brow bar and wrap-around earpieces. (I had those replaced with the regular style because they were tearing up the backs of me ears.) Two pair of Ray-Ban Caravans; one of which I got I-don’t-know-where and are well-used, and the other, like-new one I ‘inherited’ from my late-mother’s late-husband. (Yeah, Dead Man’s Glasses. How cool is that? ) I keep my 1980s Wayfarers in my car. I’ve got a bunch of ultra-cheap sunglasses that I got ‘free on the Internet’ in the late-'90s. Thought I might use them for characters in films. And then there are the HGU-4/Ps.
These are the small, square-lens glasses issued to military pilots. I have three pair of them. One will never be worn. Dad was issued them in the FAA, and they’re still in their plain brown box. Last year I broke a lens on the pair I wore all the time. I finally decided to find replacement lenses (‘finally’, because I have plenty of other glasses to wear – when I actually can wear glasses up here in Rainland) and bought a pair of Randolph Engineering ones since I thought that was the brand I’d been wearing. Turns out they’re American Optical. And that leads to my question.
Randolph Engineering HGU-4/Ps cost a lot. The cheapest ones I could find in the configuration I favour are just over $100, and I’ve seen them up to $200. American Optical ones sell for forty or fifty bucks. Why the price discrepancy? Both sunglasses must meet government specifications. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had the same NSN. So why are the REs on average three times the price of the AOs? If you are familiar with both brands, which do you prefer, and why?
OK, now that my specific question is out of the way, talk about sunglasses in general!
I like nice sunglasses, particularly ones with good lenses. I’ve lost a lot of nice pairs of shades over the years. Multiple pairs of Ray-Ban Aviators, including a pair of leather wrapped ones that I absolutely loved, Vuarnets, Revos, Maui Jims and others I’ve forgotten.
I’ve been blessed with good vision, so I’ve never needed prescription glasses, but damn, I can’t stand shitty sunglasses. I mean, Jesus Christ, you wear them on your face, over your eyeballs! If you’re going to wear them at all, I think it’s an accessory worth spending a few bucks on. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a pair in less than a year, so even if I eventually lose them, good shades are worth it to me.
I’ve got a cheap pair of Bolle that I don’t wear often and a cheap pair of Polar Lens biking shades that I wear when, um, biking. The lenses on both are pretty good for sub-$50 shades. My current everyday is a pair of Ray-Ban rectangle style with a thick tortoise shell frame, but I’ve been thinking of getting another pair of something a bit slimmer. I think Revo and Maui Jim have the best lenses on the market, so probably one of those.
Guys don’t get much in the way of accessories, I think. Sunglasses and watches are about it, so I have no problem spending a bit of coin on either one.
I don’t have an answer to your specific question, but in general sunglasses are more expensive because of better lenses or more marketing dollars behind the brand (or a combination of both). Neither Randolph Engineering nor American Optical are fashion brands, so my hunch would be that Randolph has a better lens, but I don’t know if that’s true.
Panoramic lenses? My eyeballs came with that shit from the factory! The swappable lenses are nice, though. My cheap Polar Lens set came with clear, amber and blue. I usually use the blue ones.
Well, specs are minimum requirements, right? I honestly don’t know why Randolph shades are more expensive. Maybe it’s nothing. A lot of people will actually choose the more expensive option out of a choice of identical options because of perceived value. I know I do it myself, and I’m justifying it right now. They’re more expensive so they must be better!
I had a pair of Serengeti drivers that I bought in the mid-80’s that I absolutely loved.They were optically perfect, and photochromic, and had a “timeless” style. I used to ruin sunglasses at an alarming rate, but these were too expensive to destroy, so I took loving care of them. I even had them repaired by B&L several times. The last time they developed a problem, B&L said they were no longer fixable, and I had to retire them. I must have worn them for 25 years - styling be damned!
I now wear a cheap pair of knock-offs (which aren’t half bad, actually).
RE was formed in 1972 by Jan Waszkiewicz, a former employee of AO, to make optical manufacturing equipment (particularly for frames). AO is about 100 years older (140, depending on how you calculate it). I really doubt that RE makes better lenses - I don’t think they make any. I guess AO still makes lenses, and they invented the aviator glasses, but RE holds the military contract, and maybe that accounts for the higher price point.
Hm. So people are paying more for the military cachet?
Got a couple more pair of glasses worth mentioning, which I bought back in the '90s… A pair of Oakley OO with gold (or brown) Iridium lenses , and a pair of Oakley Eye Jackets. The OOs look like the ones in the link. The Eye Jackets are are silver and black striped with each colour being about 1 mm or 2 mm in width. I had the frames replaced (actually, they just swapped them for new) Eye Jackets once at no charge; and the lenses replaced on the OOs, I think for a charge. It’s impossible not to scuff those things.
Sucks, doesn’t it. When I started loosing my near/reading vision, I did lasic. About 6 years ago. I was wearing contacts, but when I also needed reading glasses. Well… Now I only need my readers. Can’t go to a restaurant without them. At least I don’t need to mess with contacts any more.
I was looking for the case for the glasses whose lens I broke, and I found two cases… with HGU-4/Ps in them. Turns out I do have a pair of Randolph Engineering ones after all. They were in a case stamped ‘Welsh Mfg.’ The other pair is AO. I know I have a pair of HGU-4/Ps in a Ray-Ban case. Makes me want to see who made them. In any case, I see no difference between the RE and the AO glasses. They appear identical.
Still haven’t found an empty issue-case. (And I could use two.)
I bought Blu-bloskers a long time ago, and they were absolutely amazing. I could literally drive all day in bright sun, without feeling any significant reduction of eye weariness. With other sunglasses, a couple of hours was pretty much the limit before I had to take a lengthy rest stop. I had my clipons in my shirt pocket when I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist, and he pointed to them, and said Never go out without those. (Disclaimerf – I have no connection with Blu-bloskers. What I wear now are not genuine proprietary Blu-blockers, but are a very similar color, and seem to work as well.)
My AmberMatics were missing a screw and the left lens popped out easily. The lenses darken to brown in the sun as they did when I got them so long ago. I took them to Wal-Mart’s Vision Center and they replaced the missing screw, plus another screw that had a stripped head.
I wondered how much AmberMatics sell for. I found this video of some ‘kid’ showing the ones from his collection. I’m not sure how someone could talk about these things for eight minutes. It would have been shorter if he were a better speaker.
As for the price, there’s one pair at Amazon for $300, which may be the re-issue for Ray Ban’s anniversary a couple of years ago. I found another place where original-issue ones are being sold for $385 to $425. My glasses are in their original case with the original hang-tag. The tag has a price sticker on it: $48. I remember thinking that $48 was a lot of money for a pair of sunglasses at the time.
Anyway, mine have been fixed and are ready to wear.
I’ve love myMaui Jim Typhoons with the rose lenses. Unfortunately the style is out of production now–I got one of the last pairs from their repair department a couple of years ago. I have a several pairs of no-name back-ups, but I dread the day when something happens to my trusty Typhoons.
I still wear the same pair of Ray-Ban Aviators I bought back in 1976. They are a bit beat up, and the case is about to go, but I love those glasses. My eyesight needs correction, but in light bright enough to need sunglasses my eyes stop down enough that wearing uncorrected shades doesn’t bother me. My regular glasses are auto-darken, but they never get dark enough to be really useful.