We’re skeptical when clothing and accessories that aren’t designed for use in say, combat, come tucked inside large padded cases with glossy pamphlets and instructional CD-ROMs, but buying a pair of Oakley’s newest sunglasses will get you all that and more. The price tag? $4,000. But think of it as $2,000 per eye.
Crafted from pure carbon fiber, the C Six (named in a shout-out to carbon’s atomic number!) is “the most technically innovative sunglass ever created.” Oakley explains:
Specialists in building F1 racecars, the experts at Crosby Composites of London have been producing C Six frames with meticulous craftsmanship. To make just one, five-axis Computer Numeric Controlled machines spin diamond-tipped milling heads at 10,000 rpm, shaping a 40-layer billet of carbon fiber composite for more than 24 hours.
To deal with the rigid nature of finished components, Oakley engineered spinal structures of Beta Titanium memory metal to achieve precise zones of tuned flexibility. Radial cams augment the stem mechanics, and the lenses are a showcase of the best optical technologies ever invented.
Don’t even get them started on the hexalobular bolts! And if the sunglasses look familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen them on Lance Armstrong (who sported one of the first pairs in July while competing in the Tour de France) or an armadillo. “We took examples from segmented creatures in the animal kingdom, said Peter Yee, senior design director at Oakley. “We looked at animals like the armadillo and studied how parts move and slide. It’s the same idea with armored suits—you have flexibility and function that remains protective.”
The limited-edition shades aren’t available for online purchase, but the Oakley website offers a phone number for its Elite sales team. The company created its Elite line this summer as a way to commercialize “technologies or aesthetics [that] were too radical for consumers to grasp,” so don’t feel too bad if you can’t wrap your head around $4,000 sunglasses. A lower-priced ($1,500) version is part aluminum, but go ahead and pop for the all-carbon version. In millions of years, they just might turn into diamonds.