Weathered | The Bausch & Lomb Ray Ban Aviators
In 1937, Bausch & Lomb was the first manufacturer to be commissioned to create the aviator style sunglasses. Faced with the need to better equip pilot’s of the modern day against the prolonged exposure of the intense blue and white hues of the sky, Bausch and Lomb was asked to create protective eye-wear for the pilot’s eyes. They had the task of creating a lightweight pair of sunglasses that conformed to the contours of the wearer’s eye sockets, while allowing minimal light to enter during prolonged flight.
Starting out as a medical equipment manufacturer based in Rochester, New York, Bausch & Lomb would soon become the world renown makers of these iconic symbols of aviation and style. After 62 years, the creator of the Ray Ban Aviator G-15 Sunglasses found itself in a position of dwindling sales as the markets tastes shifted to prefer more modern sunglasses. In 1999, Bausch & Lomb was forced to sell Ray Ban to Italian sunglass giant Luxottica.
Presently, the Ray Ban Aviators that don the face of the fashion aficionado and the aviation enthusiast, are not one and the same as the pre-Luxottica sunglasses. And so, we will leave it at that.
However, the Bausch & Lomb Ray Ban Aviators are an entirely different matter. Made in the USA, these sunglasses with their characteristic green shades, were known as the G-15 lenses. Wrapped in a stainless steel frame, the G-15 lenses were a relatively heavy gauge polished glass made of mineral crystal, as compared to its post 1999 contemporary. Aside from the bevelled B&L inscribed on the right lens, there is the bar across the top of the sunglasses that identifies them proudly a Made In The USA by B&L Ray Ban.
Today, we take a close look at the classic sunglasses made by Bausch & Lomb. Even the cases are a different matter than the modern ones peddled out of sunglass boutiques. The first more traditional looking pair, are a pair of 1970s Aviator’s with G-16 lenses and their traditional stainless wire frames. The second pair are a pair of black painted steel 1980s Aviators with a special mirrored gradient glass treatment to allow clarity along the middle latitude and darker hues above and below.
While they are not impossible to come by, they can be found with some dedicated web sleuthing. These pairs were found in a small warehouse of American goods in South America, where an untouched stock of them had become long and forgotten. Do yourself a favor and pick yourself up a pair of the real thing, instead of forking over the same amount for the Italian replacement. You will be glad you did, and will have a real piece of historical Americana.