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 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.
American Optical General
American Optical has been a favorite of the U.S. military since the ’50s and is one of the few brands still making its frames in the States. Each pair of its General sunglasses is built to military specifications using lightweight metal frames and glass lenses.
Ray-Ban Original Aviator Sunglasses
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.
Moscot Shtarker Sunglasses
Designed by 5th generation Moscot owner, Zack Moscot, these handcrafted aviators offer a streamlined take on the airborne classic, thanks to its straight brow bar and bridge. They feature acetate tips and silicone nose pads as well as a set of dashing Cosmitan Brown lenses.
SALT. Resin Sunglasses
Crafted in Japan, SALT.’s Resin Sunglasses have are made with titanium for the frames as well as the nose pads. The grooved frames recall art deco aesthetics while the polarized C-39 lenses offer clarity and protection.
Native Sons Ryder S Sunglasses
These elegant aviators feature a slightly-flattened tear-drop shape and a gently-curved brow bar and nose bridge. They’re are made in Japan with hand-polished gold-toned titanium from temple to nose tip.
Mykita x Maison Margiela MMESSE027
Using a patented spiral hinge design, these modern aviators are built with stainless steel and powder-coated for a serious finish. The angular upper half of the lenses in combination with the rounded tear-drop shape give these frames a fashion-forward feel.
Barton Perreira 007 Courtier
Made for the 2020 James Bond film, No Time to Die, these limited edition sunglasses feature engraved gunmetal frames encased in smoky, translucent acetate. The shadowy sunglasses come with C-39 lenses with an anti-reflective coating and come with a commemorative 007-branded case.
Jacques Marie Mage Peyote Sunglasses
Inspired by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, these frames are made in collaboration with The Gonzo Foundation with beta titanium gold frames and polished Havana tortoise acetate at the brow bar and at the temple inserts. Hairline details throughout give these sunglasses subtle, but significant, attention-to-detail.