Oakley is one of those brands that, when you close your eyes, the entire brand identity sort of envelopes you. From large, frameless, colorful, wraparound-sunglasses to over-engineered backpacks, you know Oakley when you see it. Heck, even Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) of X-Men fame, wore specially made Oakleys to shield his eyes from creating laser-induced mayhem.
As a brand, it really had its heyday in the 1990s – Oakley was it. I still remember walking into a store and catching a glimpse of the famed over-the-head sunglasses (I may have even tried them on). As Oakley pushed the limits of futuristic- industrial-modern-otherworldly design, it also expanded its place in the market to – you guessed it – watches.
Highsnobiety just released an article covering the bizarre history of the Oakley watch line – including its decline and recent social media revival . Over the course of a decade, the brand created timepieces that competed with both Breitling and Rolex (in price-point only, mind you) but represented a design-style that only Oakley could have created. Even Michael Jordan wore an Oakley watch.
The article highlights one of the craziest looking watches Oakley produced – The Time Bomb – in an attempt to showcase just what went wrong with the brand’s foray into watch design. It also features some thoughts from our very own Joe Thompson. What I found interesting is the idea that many brands, from a host of different industries, made a watch in this era. It was just the thing that one did. However it was Oakley, above all others, that seemed to have created watches so perfectly in tune with its design language – even if that ultimately meant they were very left of center, to put it mildly.
The article indicates that, with the rise of social media, some of these lost relics of Oakley watches past, have been rediscovered and finally (somewhat) appreciated. If you’re interested in design, in the obscure, and the cyclical nature of what is “cool,” this is definitely one to check out.