There’s something of a throwback to the golden age of racing in these new Persol Protector sunglasses. The silver mirror lenses, removable leather blinkers and a custom engraving, all point to a fashionable, utilitarian approach, but the Italian brand has some real historical pedigree, too. Persol originally began creating glasses for pilots before they found a home on the faces of sports drivers, and both traditions continue even now. During World War I, founder Giussepe Ratti worked for the family opticians and noticed the influx of pilots stepping into the store. Their stories of the glaring sun and air battles inspired him to experiment with smoke lenses, and he finally came up with the prototype Protector shape.
The original Protectors featured glare-reducing lenses, an elastic band, and rubber-lined frames. After the war, they found a home on the faces of racing drivers and motorcyclists, who fought similar challenges with the sun (or frankly, just wanted to look cool.) These innovations against glare would later inspire the brand’s name: ‘Per il sole’ or ‘for the sun.’ The new Protectors you see here continue the racing heritage, worn by Agostino and Alberto on the sweltering Dakar Classic run.
Persol still has a place in the hearts of many collectors – often owed to their star power and build quality; branded as the shades of choice for the classic square-jawed men’s men like Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan. What we like about the Protector, in particular, are the rounder frames, which are also suited to smaller face-shapes. The mirror lenses ensure that your eyes are fully protected, whether in Dakar or Milan or London. And the removable leather blinkers add structure and retro appeal, offering two variations on the Protector for your personal style.
In their latest incarnation, the Persol Protector is a pair of sunglasses wholly suited to the modern driver, with some thoughtful ties to their aviation roots. It’s a great example of the brand moving forward, with one eye aimed affectionately to the past.