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Sunglasses With 24-Karat Lenses Are Easy on Both Eyes and Ears

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 3/2/2021 Hannah Elliott

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Steve McQueen, patron saint of guys who like to drive fast, was rarely photographed in anything other than Persol sunglasses. He wore his favorite pair—tortoise-framed 714s customized with blue-tinted lenses—in Bullitt, The Getaway, and The Thomas Crown Affair. Introduced in the 1960s as a more compact version of Persol’s original 649 model, the 714 was the first pair of sunglasses to fold conveniently inward, ensuring safe storage in places as small as a breast pocket. The unique pilot shape, keyhole bridge, swordlike accents on the edges, and acetate frames are all present in a limited edition dubbed 714SM ($790), but it’s the warm Havana brown color and alluring 24-karat-gold-plated lenses that really steal the show.

THE COMPETITION

• Made in Italy, the $445 Fletcher sunglasses from Tom Ford provide a bigger, squarer frame for the face. They’re available in a similarly warm Havana option—for the frames and lenses—as well as in black with blue lenses.

• That other classic shape, Ray‑Ban’s Wayfarer, has been around since 1952. The black version is most closely associated with Tom Cruise in Risky Business, but the $204 Classic B-15 tortoise model is a no-less-iconic style you can make your own.

Dior’s $410 BlackSuit shades are, oddly enough, a deep brown. The Italian-made tortoiseshell acetate frames have a subtle round shape, green-tinted lenses, and silvertone hinges that resemble the stitching on the label’s signature suits.

THE CASE

Persol’s 714SM sunglasses use the brand’s patented flexibility to ease temple pressure and comfortably adapt to any face. A premium leather case is included; monogram engraving is available, too. The gold-plated lenses won’t provide any extra protection from road glare, but they will offer a talking point for others on McQueen-worthy drives, whether you’re stopping for a red light ahead—or red and blue ones behind. $790

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