$4,000 Sunglasses!

The most expensive sunglasses in the Oakley line are not encrusted with diamonds and jewels. But at $4,000 for the shades, the Elite C Six model might as well be treated like gold. Released about a year ago, the extremely limited model is actually made of carbon fiber with a titanium spine. The company touts machining with 0.002-inch precision and a handcrafted process that rivals fine watch making.

I got the lowdown on the Elite C Six model at an Oakley press event last month in New York. An Oakley rep told of a process that starts at a U.K. factory where high-end Formula 1 race-car components are made. The Oakley shades get a spot in the company’s line between the milling of suspension components that will eventually go under the hood in one of the world’s fastest cars.

Oakley - Carbonfiber sunglasses.jpg

The $4,000 Oakley Elite C Six sunglasses

A solid block of layered carbon fiber is the base of the Elite C Six. The U.K. plant’s equipment cuts and mills for up to 24 hours straight with the aforementioned 0.002-inch precision to carve out, Michelangelo-style, the sculpted sunglasses frame inside.

The end product is a Space-Age sunglass that’s made of solid carbon. The whole package, frame and lenses together, weighs an insane 42 grams. There are titanium hinges and an internal spine for reinforcement of the carbon arms. Oakley adds its best optics, and — bam! — you have the $4,000 shades.

Oakley - CSix_Carbonfiber - milling.jpg

Oakley - CSix_Carbonfiber - milled.jpg

In manufacture: Milling raw blocks of carbon fiber to 0.002-inch precision

But who on Earth spends $4,000 on sunglasses? I asked that exact question to Andy McSorley, Oakley’s eyewear brand manager, and his answer was that the special shades are obviously made for an extremely affluent, niche market. “This would be anyone from a race car driver, exotic car owner, carbon-fiber bicycle rider, or sailing enthusiast,” he said.

The Elite C Six might be more museum piece — or conversation starter on your face — than performance sunglass. But they do carry the same optics and frame features as seen on some of the company’s sport-specific glasses. McSorley noted that Lance Armstrong wore the very first pair on the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France.

So if you’re Lance Armstrong, an oil sheik, or a tech billionaire, the Elite C Six might be for you. Oakley plans to make a total run of only 250 Elite C Six carbon glasses. For the slightly-less obsessed, the company offers an aluminum-frame version. Cost is only $1,500.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. A version of this post ran originally on Gear Junkie’s blog on VentureThere.com.

Posted by God - 12/01/2010 01:15 PM

$4,000 sun glasses? You human kind, my creations, are obviously all retarded.Its carbon fiber and titanium, neither of which are are or hard to manufacturer in anyway what so ever. I should send another flood to wipe you all out.

Posted by JB - 12/01/2010 05:37 PM

stupid. And kinda stupid to review, don’t ya think? I look to you for reviews of useful, outdoor gear. This is neither and I’ve noticed a bit more of this kind of stuff, lately. Get back to your roots, man.

Posted by TK - 12/01/2010 05:51 PM

I like reviews like this. I like hearing about companies that I support and buy from are pushing their technology which trickles down to us eventually. Good job GJ!

Posted by Danny - 12/01/2010 05:58 PM

I strongly dislike items for the upper crust, but I don’t mind hearing that they exist. Seriously, though—the many good things you could do with that kind of money, like feed a village for 6 months! Boo on the wealthy.

Posted by Florence Bellamy - 12/01/2010 06:49 PM

$4,000 for sunglasses is awful steep!

Posted by Jenny hebert - 12/01/2010 07:01 PM

very extravagant. But totally cool

Posted by Gearjunkie EX fan - 12/01/2010 08:20 PM

Gearjunkie, your reviews have gotten increasingly lazy and pointless for the true outdoorsman. I don’t ever want to read a review like that again please. My goodness, what happened to you guys? You used to review interesting stuff…

Posted by Josh Turner - 12/01/2010 09:57 PM

If a company like Oakley is coming out with a product like this, I think it’s interesting to hear about it. These glasses might be worth more than my car, but they sound legit as hell nonetheless. God probably has a pair, he’s just trying to make the rest of us feel better.

Posted by Joslyn - 12/01/2010 10:13 PM

Seriously? When the hell was the last time I complained about my sunglasses being too heavy: “Sheesh, if only these glasses weighed less than 50 grams, life would be so much easier.” I don’t get it.

Posted by gnarlydog - 12/02/2010 12:04 AM

The best move Oakley could make.
Honestly still too cheap in my opinion.
See, no redneck will be able to afford them so your favorite teenager idol (read celebrity) will be able to wear them with confidence knowing that he/she won’t see them on some peasant’s face.

Paparazzi will take pix of them wearing those shades and the brand name will increase its street cred like nothing else…
Do you get their philosophy yet?
The same reason Armani, Gucci and Rolex ain’t cheap. Create desirability among the impressionable to reap the benefits from sales of less pricey items in their line.

Posted by knickersinaknot compliant - 12/02/2010 07:46 AM

Seriously, are you kidding? These things are second rate. In a world where we should be using hydrogen powered personal jet packs by now they pale by comparison! They don’t even include night vision or holographic capabilities. Come on, what were you thinking? Dude, where’s the flip video attachment?

Posted by nyprizefighter - 12/03/2010 09:55 AM

very cool concept for the rich,but for the price of a used car. i dont get it.Just another over priced waste of a name brand that joe blow cant touch.

Posted by TomToday - 12/03/2010 11:42 AM

well, he isn’t calling himself “The Gear Person with Super Thrifty Taste” – he’s the damn Gear Junkie and writes about awesomely unholy things like $4k sunglasses – it’s cool to see what’s being put out there by companies, if only to gain some notoriety among the greater worldly consumer glut. I like it :)

Posted by Juan - 12/03/2010 12:39 PM

I bet Dog the bounty hunter snatches up the first pair brah. these are so lame. talk about looking like an A**hole.

Posted by TMR - 12/03/2010 02:21 PM

Don’t you guys see ?
He only write about expansive stuff so we can have an excuse when our wifes complain…

Look at those shades… by the way, I just bought a watch that can measure my pulse when I watch TV…

Posted by DJM - 12/03/2010 08:52 PM

Thanks for showing O’s bowel stain. If O ever sells a pair they do deserve the laugh, but they and the ego that buys them belong in the toilet of our economic abyss.

Posted by darryn - 12/04/2010 10:27 AM

As silly as the glasses are, I thought GJ covered it well. We do look to him for reviews of the hard core, pragmatic, outdoors gear, but something like this once in a while is OK as a distraction. Given God’s comment, I suggest he soon review some canoes, kayaks, and arks so we can all purchase some useful.

Posted by Frederick Rotzien - 12/10/2010 07:16 PM

Now this is what I need to look COOL!

Posted by April - 01/23/2011 01:54 PM

I’m just still taken aback that sunglasses cost 4 grand!

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