ACL Field Test | Persol “Steve McQueen” 714 Glasses

This fall, eyewear maker Persol is releasing a special pair of “Steve McQueen” edition sunglasses. The 714 was worn frequently by McQueen (he preferred the blue lenses, but I like the “honey” color with the tortoise shell frame as pictured above) in movies and in real life, and the glasses are part of what made the man one of Hollywood’s most celebrated style icons. It is my thought that McQueen’s lauded personal style was very consciously thought-out and crafted as part of his image. The brands and items he wore was part of a deliberate effort to enhance his star power. Now, with that said, I don’t think this was a bad thing and I can’t think of any actors in the past or present that are as masculine or cool as McQueen. Think about today’s movie stars and try to name someone that is as tough and cool as McQueen. I bet you can’t do it.

When it comes to his style, all sorts of companies are trying to capitalize on his look, and these Persol 714 sunglasses are one of the few examples that actually make sense and are well executed. (Heuer and Belstaff being two others that can get away with it.) With that in mind, I asked Persol if I could borrow a pair of the new Steve McQueen 714s for a little field test up in Maine. The special Persol Steve McQueen edition shades come in three color options (blue lenses with tortoise for $310, black on black for $360 and black lenses with tortoise frames for $310), are just as fold-able as the basic 714 model and are subtly branded with the Steve McQueen name on the inside arm. If you are someone that goes through a pair of sunglasses a week, these might not be the ones for you, but I buy two pairs a decade and after wearing them this weekend these look to be my next pair. [Persol PO714 Steve McQueen]

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Photo by William Claxton
Photo by William Claxton

Comments on “ACL Field Test | Persol “Steve McQueen” 714 Glasses

    Josh on October 4, 2010 1:18 PM:

    No one cooler will grace this earth.

    Halberstram on October 4, 2010 1:21 PM:

    The coolest goddamn mothefucker on the silver screen –

    Larry on October 4, 2010 1:22 PM:

    These do look stylish but I, for one, would never be able to pull off the look.

    imperial black on October 4, 2010 1:33 PM:

    Have you tried these on? They are really big glasses. Quite a few people asked me if I had prescription glasses on. The smaller size is nice but is too small for me. I must be an inbetween. Strange, since Persols generally tend to fit me quite well.

    Makaga on October 4, 2010 1:55 PM:

    As an eyewear designer, I think it’s neat and appropriate to release these Persols with a Steve McQueen nod. Are there any other celebrities whose sunglasses (and sunglasses brand) were a key role in their look that would make sense to re-release? What do you fellas think?

    Evan on October 4, 2010 2:12 PM:

    I have a pair of the tortoise/honey that I absolutely love (bought them as a wedding present to myself last summer).

    I don’t suppose you can grab a photo of the McQueen engraving on the inside arm. Is that the only difference between these special issue and the 714s I own?

    shawn on October 4, 2010 2:35 PM:

    I like my tortoise 2869’s, but they cracked right in the middle for no apparent reason. Probably a Luxottica thing….

    mark on October 4, 2010 2:50 PM:

    I bought a pair of the classic folding 714’s 2 years ago as a pick me up when my dad died. as someone who loved good design, hand finished goods and the finer things in life he would’ve whole heartedly approved.

    they were one of the best purchases i ever made. i wore them non stop. on holiday, driving the car, walking the dog, out on the bike and during his funeral.

    then, about 2 months ago, i made the fatal error of loosing them on a 135mile bike ride. they fell out of the back pocket of my top – it was a rapha top so i guess it serves me right for being a complete ponce.

    anyway, they were a pleasure to own, and if anyone out there happens to have found them, somewhere between manchester and hereford in the uk, please, drop me a line, i’m missing them.

    Ramalhoni on October 4, 2010 2:53 PM:

    These Glasses are the bomb!!!!!
    I have a pair with 25 years that I “stole” from my Dad from his collection!!!… He is obsessed with them, he buys a new pair every two years since he is 30. Now he is 63, so… do the math he has tons of them.. LOLOL and he gave me one of the oldest he had….

    Todd on October 4, 2010 2:53 PM:

    He was a real right winger. Fully supported the effort in Vietnam. Think about how cool that is the next time you are at the Vietnam memorial in D.C. As if.

    K.A. Adams on October 4, 2010 3:02 PM:

    America was once the home of guys like Steve McQueen and now it’s become the land of the losers such as the guys from Bored To Death

    Steve K. on October 4, 2010 3:27 PM:

    I had a pair of the 649s (unfoldable, but same design) for about a year and loved them until I dropped them onto the sidewalk while fumbling with a bunch of stuff in my hands. A day which will live in personal infamy.

    I had the tortoise with the brown/honey lenses. They are really well made, with very heavy lenses (which I think may be the reason they fell the way they did and cracked a lens).

    Imperial Black is right though, they are very big glasses and for someone with a smaller face like me, might look a bit odd wearing them around. I ended up switching to a pair of Ray Ban Clubmasters for that vintage look, but more appropriate size.

    Dandux Himself on October 4, 2010 3:29 PM:

    You cannot be referring to Ted Danson. You must mean Cool Ethan.

    MarcoBerlin on October 4, 2010 3:53 PM:

    Persol O dear Persol… beautiful glasses! not student wise thinking (little too expensive), but if you think of them how they will last your lifetime, then its the buy of your life

    Mark on October 4, 2010 4:06 PM:

    anyone know what the jacket is he’s wearing in those pics?

    TMH on October 4, 2010 4:09 PM:

    Like the tortoise but black suits me. I own a pair ( they do not fold), i havent worn them in a while. Been attached to a pair of aviators for a yr now. May be time to mix it up.

    K.A. Adams on October 4, 2010 4:10 PM:

    I’m referring to the whole lot of them Dandux !

    I’d like to send John Wayne’s character from The Quiet Man over there to knock some sense into them

    It’s hard to even watch the promos for that show

    luke on October 4, 2010 6:34 PM:

    i was checking them out last week in downtown nyc where they had it displayed in the window (the ad, not the sunglasses), but they were sold out. i wanted the black on black ones. on a buying kick, i wound up picking up something totally different a few blocks away at another store- tom ford aviators. damn sun.

    Chris Bedford on October 4, 2010 7:16 PM:

    In 2007 I was traveling in South East Asia, and was passing through Bangkok before flying back to the States. Bangkok is a chaotic place, with traffic jams comprised of buses, taxi cabs, and three-wheeled tuks-tuks that can extend a simple commute of a few miles into a two-hour ordeal.

    I hailed a cab, and slipped inside the backseat of a battered Toyota that emerged from the slow moving stream of cars. With my guide book at the ready, I showed the driver where I wanted to go, and pointed out both the English- and Thai-spelling of my final destination (Tip: When traveling in Asia, being able to show a cab driver both the English spelling used in your Western guide book, and the form it would take using their own language’s alphabet is very useful.).

    The cab lurched into the stagnant traffic flow, and my journey began.

    Shortly there after, I looked up and noticed that there were postcards, photos, and clippings from magazines tucked along the edge of the headliner around the entire circumference of the car’s roof. All of which were pictures of Steve McQueen.

    I commented to the driver on his collection of photographs, and he turned around–not bothering to stop the car from inching forward in the line of traffic–and excitedly pointed to the photos and said in heavily accented English: “Steve McQueen? You know who Steve McQueen?!”

    When I told him that yes, I knew who Steve McQueen was, and that he was a favorite actor, he ducked underneath the dashboard, leaning into the passenger footwell and emerged with a small box overflowing with postcards and pictures of Mr. McQueen, and a folder stuffed with magazine clipping and newspaper articles about him. He then spent the remainder of our trip leaning over his seat into the back of the moving car to tell me about his favorite Steve McQueen photos and movies.

    jbjones on October 4, 2010 9:17 PM:

    it seems like all of the flashes of metal hingery distract from the cool frame. ultimately it was mcqueen who made these glasses appear cool, not the other way around. james dean did it first and probably better (cheaper?).

    Sinuhe on October 4, 2010 11:23 PM:

    There is no question McQueen made these glasses cool, not the other way around. I loved Persols and have worn them religiously for the past 10 years as both my sunglasses and my prescription glasses. It wasn’t until they sold to Luxottica that my loyalty to the brand shrank, what was once a niche brand that was almost hard to find was soon in Sunglass Hut and that is just not OK.

    Dave on October 5, 2010 7:08 AM:

    Full marks also to Clint Eastwood. Check out Magnum Force – his Ray Ban Baloramas (the heftier ones, reissued to vintage specifications, if you can find them) are pretty darn badass also.

    Thomas Crown on October 5, 2010 9:08 AM:

    Steve McQueen was the BEST and COOLEST actor in Hollywood. Hands Down!! He was not only a great action star, but a true PETRO HEAD. He once said that he acted to support his hobbies of racing cars and collecting them. He was by far, a man’s man.

    JD on October 5, 2010 9:34 AM:

    My brother has these, and surprisingly the articulated bridge isn’t too noticeable worn. But the Luxottica ownership is a major problem. I had the 649’s, a similar but rigid design, that developed flaws in the plastic around the Persol arrow detail, so I went to the retailer with Persol’s generous-sounding 3 year guarantee to initiate an inspection/replacement of the temple pieces by Persol, and they now REFUSE to honor their own guarantee, saying it only covers two years now. (Which is still beyond the norm for coverage, but I felt duped)

    If you want them, get them, but inspect them mercilessly for flaws.

    Daniel Framton on October 5, 2010 2:52 PM:

    these suck… sunglass hut exclusive… when the arms fold the hit the lenses too!

    Matt on October 5, 2010 6:00 PM:

    McQueen = Cool. Absolutely. But 2 hinges on a pair of sunglasses is plenty, these have 5? Persol lenses and build quality are superb, (I’ve got a great new polarized pair but different style) but why create 3 more hinges to tweak, break, etc. Do people who own these really fold these up and stick them in a case or shirt pocket??

    Lalphaomega on October 5, 2010 7:42 PM:

    The modern 714’s shape is slightly different than the vintage one’s.

    The top of the frames that mcqueen is wearing have a distinctive curve that is not visible on modern issues.

    AFU66 on October 5, 2010 8:17 PM:

    Okay, I got the glasses. Now I need the ’68 Mustang to go with them…

    Doug Richardson on October 6, 2010 9:24 AM:

    Yo Dave: The official Ray_Ban site, when consulted in their search engine for “Baloramas” spits back: “No search results match your criteria.”

    cws on October 7, 2010 5:02 AM:

    Does Persol make these in a smaller frame size? Anyone?

    blake l on October 7, 2010 9:11 AM:

    when steve mcqueen wears them, they look good. when you or me wear them, probably not so much and i’m out three hundred bucks…

    ddml on October 7, 2010 5:35 PM:

    i’ve got these with blue rx lenses.
    i get tons of compliments but they are also polarizing – one friend in particular hates them.
    they ARE big. and they are a little… finnicky. i need to tighten the screws fairly often. BUT it is awesome to be able to fold them small enough to fit into a shirt pocket, especially in summer when you want to travel light.

    tom on October 9, 2010 1:28 PM:

    Well, there has been a little too much McQueen focus lately. Baracuta, Persol and so on. But sure, he’s cool.

    Ed on October 9, 2010 8:40 PM:
    jacob on October 12, 2010 3:49 AM:

    these are great. dont suit me though, i’ll stick with my $15 wayfarers i got from the flea market.

    p.s. @K.A. Adams Bored to Death is great. Why you’d compare it to Steve Mcqueen is beyond me. Apples and oranges.

    Mat on October 13, 2010 4:37 PM:

    At the end of The Thomas Crown Affair when he is sat on the plane he has another fantastic pair of sunglasses on, look a bit like Cutler and Gross, anybody know what these are?

    Isak on October 26, 2010 2:16 PM:

    I would say that “The king of cool” has two worthy contenders, James Franco and the well known Mr. Depp

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