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Summer Shades to Last a Lifetime: Randolph Engineering

As one of the last metal sunglasses manufacturers in the United States, Randolph takes pride not only in their product, but also in their story. Founded by two immigrants, the rigorous quality standards of Randolph Engineering attracted the eye of the US Government, whom they have been contracting for since 1978. Fighter pilots trust Randolph, and you can, too.

The Randolph take on the Aviator is somehow unique, traditional, and modern all at once. They are more square in shape than most mainstream, fashion-only aviators, and in turn end up fitting the contours of your face. They sit decently high up on the nose, and won’t brush your cheeks, except during your widest of smiles. They fit comfortably while eliminating most gaps for sunlight to sneak through—if you’ve ever found yourself squinting behind a pair of aviators like I have, you’ll quickly appreciate just how good the coverage is on the Randolph Aviators.

Of course, the year is 2018, so there are plenty of ways to customize your pair of Aviators. The all-metal frame options range from 22K rose gold to matte black, and you can choose a traditional ‘skull’ temple or a ‘bayonet’ style that looks particularly fashionable. The bayonet style was invented for pilots to easily slide the glasses on and off under their helmets and headgear. For the rest of us, it helps when wearing these Aviators with headphones or a hat!

Randolph also offers 19 different lens styles, including six polarized options. Thankfully, each lens type comes with some very helpful information to help you craft the perfect pair (for instance—“Our relaxing AGX green tint filters out colors that are fatiguing to the eye and provides exceptional color contrast for crisp viewing. Brightens shadows and reduces glare.”). The lens options are a mix of both real glass and polycarbonate—spring for the glass lenses if you can.

I think these frames are deserving of something a little flashy, so I opted for 23K gold plated bayonet frames with gray polarized glass lenses, and they look fantastic. Each pair of Aviators is labeled with the Randolph name in the top left corner of the lenses, as well as a “RE” stamp on the temple. The care and quality materials ultimately shine through, resulting in a sophisticated, sturdy, no nonsense pair of sunglasses on any face.

You’ll notice that the glass lenses and all-metal construction make the Randolph Aviators nearly indestructible, and also a fairly heavy pair of eyewear. Thankfully, the weight doesn’t translate to discomfort or fatigue over longer periods—just ask the military. You probably won’t be wearing these on your next run, but they are certainly suitable for an active lifestyle. Even with the bayonet frames, I have had no problems with the Aviators falling or slipping.

The hand-crafted process most likely means that you won’t need any adjustments when you take them out of the box, but if you do, the nose pads are fully adjustable. Each pair of Randolph Aviators also comes with a repair kit that includes extra screws, nose pads, and even a screwdriver! These accoutrements live in a small Velcro pocket inside the luxurious leather carrying case that comes with each pair. The case itself speaks to the high quality standards of Randolph, and is something you won’t necessarily get with other pairs of shades. I felt particularly good about traveling with my Randolph’s thanks to the hard shelled case.

History aside, the Randolph Aviators are some of the finest consumer-friendly sunglasses I’ve worn. Consider the military heritage and 45 year handcrafted history, and it's no wonder. Their pricing is competitive with a lot of other sunglasses which lack the quality construction and attention to detail, making them a top choice for your next pair of serious sunglasses.

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Story by Thomas Bender


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