Tag Archives: Persol

Horological Mythology: The Osmosis of Cool

In the world of watch collecting, one gets used to heady price tags and watching the those prices rise over the years. It’s logical, despite occasional anomalies like market corrections and bubbles, that desirable things go up in value over time. It equally adds up that in a time when wealth is more concentrated than it has been in decades, those who can afford to pay a lot for something can usually afford to pay a WHOLE LOT for something, and so dealers adjust their prices accordingly, and the rest of us have to pay up to keep up. C’est la vie.

But what in the world accounts for something like the $17.75 million we saw shelled out for Paul Newman’s own Rolex “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 Daytona at auction last week? The most paid for any watch ever. Theories abound, of course. The fact that a normal Rolex “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 Daytona is a somewhat rare and desirable watch in it’s own right is a good starting point. Add to that the sweet story about his wife gifting it to him, and Mr. Newman’s owning and wearing this particular watch throughout an exciting portion of his life (regularly racing cars and frequently seen in public generally being cooler and better looking than the rest of us), thus leading collectors in the 80’s to name the reference the “Paul Newman” in his honour, and we have a pretty solid explanation as to why this watch would be worth more than the “normal” Paul Newman. But a normal “Paul Newman” Daytona goes for about $200,000, so is the one that started it all really worth that much more, solely as an originator of a sect of the watch collecting world? I say no.

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What we’re wearing – Sunglasses by Persol & Randolph Engineering

Summer’s here and the sky is bright, so you really need some good shades. That being the case, I thought I’d share my two favourites with you – Persol’s model 649 and the Aviators made by Randolph Engineering. The two sets of glasses are very different but equally cool, and both will protect your eyes from the ravages of sun damage whilst making women want you and men want to be you!

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Persol Model 649

Persol 649‘s probably need no introduction. The frames, made famous by the likes of Marcelllo Mastroianni and Steve McQueen on screen and in real life, epitomized the insouciant cool of the 60’s and early 70’s film culture. Mastroianni’s image was that of the dapper rake, McQueen’s the rough and tumble man’s man. Either way the 649 oozed cool. And they’ve still got it. The 649 is a bit sturdier than Persol’s 714 model, an essentially identical twin but for the fact that the 714’s fold up. McQueen was often photographed wearing 714’s as well, but in my experience the 649’s hold up a lot better to wear and tear as there are less fragile parts involved. Available in a number of sizes and colour combinations to suit every face, you can’t go wrong with a pair of 649’s.

Marcello Mastroianni wearing his iconic 649’s in “Divorce, Italian Style”

Mr. McQueen smiling away behind his 649’s

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McQueen sporting his 714’s, foldable sibling to the 649

There is however, one pair of glasses that would make me switch out my beloved Persol 649’s, and that’s the Aviators from the guys over at Randolph Engineering.

Robert Deniro’s Travis Bickle wearing Randolph Engineering Aviators in “Taxi Driver”

Since the late 70’s Randolph Engineering have been supplying the US Armed Forces with Aviator glasses, and like most mil spec items, they’re tough as hell and look really cool. Easily recognizable as the glasses of choice for military pilots, they look great on us civilians as well. They’re much better built than the more commonly seen Ray Ban Aviators, and they also come with a lifetime warranty on all the solder joints (which are the parts that usually fail on these glasses). Randolph Engineering also offers a variety of sizes and lens colours to get the right fit and sun protection, respectively. In fact, on the company’s website you can essentially create your own custom combination to suit your needs perfectly. Also, because they were designed for pilots, most of their glasses can be ordered with bayonet style temples, that hug the side of your head instead of hooking over your ears. If you’re a motorcycle guy, or an ATV or dirt bike enthusiast this might be the way to go since you can easily whip them on and off without removing your helmet. Randolph Engineering Aviators beat all others in my opinion because they really adhere to the “devil in the details” philosophy from design stage straight through production. If well built is your thing, go with Randolph Engineering. Oh yeah, Don Draper wears them. And Travis Bickle. And Johnny Depp. And Robert Redford. And Brad Pitt, and…oh you get the idea.

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Randolph Engineering Aviators with bayonet style temples


Robert Deniro and Jodie Foster strutting the Mean Streets in “Taxi Driver”


Mr. Depp in a pair of blue lens Aviators by Randolph Engineering

So there you go. Go forth and protect those optic nerves! You can find Persol and Randolph Engineering on Amazon. However, with Randolph Engineering I recommend buying directly from the company. They’re easy to deal with and have good customer service (they even answer the phone!), and doing it this way ensures you’ll get the pair that’s perfect for you.