A Military-Inspired Classic

The 10 Best Aviator Sunglasses for Men

June 19, 2019 Style By Photo by Chase Pellerin
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Aviator sunglasses date back to 1936, when the U.S. Armed Forces, seeking a solution to help fighter pilots deal with eye strain at higher altitudes, teamed up with Bausch and Lomb to produce eyewear that countered light. The result is one you’re likely familiar with: It featured convex tear-drop glass lenses made from G-15 tempered glass, which transmitted 15 percent of incoming light, and thin metal frames. Though originally called ‘Anti-Glares,’ the frames were rebranded ‘Ray-Ban’ upon release to the public. Today, aviators are offered by countless brands. While lenses, details and price-points vary widely, they all stem from the same military aesthetic — one that champions simplicity, functionality and versatility. Here are 10 to choose from.

Warby Parker Raider Wide Sunglasses

Featuring scratch-resistant polarized lenses made with CR-39 composite for clarity, these aviators are one of the more affordable pairs on the market. They feature a large tear-drop lens, a straight brow bar and Akulon-coated screws for durability.

Ray-Ban Original Aviator Sunglasses

The original Ray-Ban aviator is now made in Italy. It features a gold-tone metal frame, silicone nose pads and clear tips on the metal arms.

Randolph Engineering Aviator Sunglasses

Made in the USA, these sunglasses feature non-polarized, scratch-resistant mineral ground-glass lenses. They also have a multi-layer flash coating, a full-metal frame and adjustable silicone nose pads.

Persol 649 Aviator Sunglasses

Created in 1957, these Italian aviators have a natural acetate frame and neutral crystal lenses. To ensure the best fit, these sunglasses feature Meflecto stems and a Victor Flex bridge, allowing for a more adaptable fit than similarly-built shades.

MCM Aviator Sunglasses

This fashion-forward style features a sleek metal frame with oversized brown gradient lenses. Made in Italy, the black and gold frame includes subtle diamond details and rubber nose pads.

David Kind Hartford Aviator

Handmade in Japan, this minimalist style has an extremely light titanium frame that weights just 13 grams. The semi-flat nylon lenses have an anti-reflective treatment and come in both blue-gray and green-mirror colors.

Cutler and Gross Aviators

These stylish aviators are made in Italy from lightweight metal. The frame features squared light-blue lenses that are appropriate for all day wear.

SALT. x Aether Apparel Scout Sunglasses

Made in Japan, these frames are made from lightweight beta-titanium and feature lenses that are chromatic filtered and polarized. Made for motorcycle riding, the extended frame top and windshields reduce airflow and peripheral sunlight.

Mr Leight Ichi S Aviator Sunglasses

These Japanese-made aviators have scratch-resistant green CR39 lenses and custom-milled frames with intricated detials. The luxe silhouette just has a brow bar, so it will fit a variety of face shapes well.

Jacques Marie Mage Roy Sunglasses

These ’70s-inspired aviators feature an elongated shape and bronze CR39 lenses. Made in Japan from titanium, they have monoblock hinges, custom 4mm rim wire and custom nose pads with hairline engraving. This style is limited to 450 pieces.

Do You Really Need Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized lenses are a significant investment over normal lenses. We talk to experts from David Kind, SALT. and District Vision and to learn why. Read the Story

John Zientek

John Zientek is Gear Patrol's style editor and in-house guitar authority. He grew up on the West Coast.

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