Oakley: Jawbone Custom

Well, if you’re a frequent flyer of this section of the site, this will be totally left field to what I have been reviewing in the past. As I’ve said before, I initially created this review section to review all sorts of stuff, but so far I’ve been concentrating on anime figures as they’ve been easy (and fun) to write about. But it’s time for a change of pace and I’m going to do a small review on my new sunglasses as I haven’t seen that many reviews of it while shopping around.

I’ve been looking for a pair of good quality sunglasses for awhile, previously I’ve been using Wiley-X SG1 for just about everything. While I love the SG1 and its styling, it isn’t very comfortable to wear, at least for my Asian face. The SG1 was designed as a one size fit all type of deal, and being a standard issue eye wear for the US Military its design is mostly based upon the facial features of a non-Asian person. I say that mainly because Asian people tend to have a wider facial surface and the nose bridge isn’t as tall. While I can wear it just fine, it sits very loosely on my face and would fall off unless I use a strap. But I’ll get into those details if/when I do the SG1 reviews later on.

I’ve never bothered to look into Oakley eyewear before as most of its style that I’ve seen before didn’t quite appeal to me. I still much prefer the tactical look of the SG1 and that was one of my criterias when searching for a replacement sunglasses. So I came upon the Jawbone one day and thought it looked interesting enough. It was also pretty cool that I could customize the colours that I wanted and that Oakley had an Asian Fit line that will sit better on Asian faces. Win.

I’ve always heard how Oakley have really good optics, so I was really interested to see how the Jawbone will end up. So I made my custom order at the local eyeware store and waited for about a month. The wait seemed like forever, but I think it was well worth it in the end.

The package comes in a matte black box with nothing but a subdued Oakley Custom logo. In the box is a padded carrying case (which Oakley calls a Vault) containing the goodies and some paperwork for registration and explanation of the different types of lenses.

The Jawbone comes with 2 pair of lenses, alternate nose piece and a microfibre soft carrying bag. The standard Jawbones from Oakley comes with standard lenses of Oakley’s choosing. Since my order is custom, I got to pick and choose my colour scheme and lenses. I opted for a set of polarized Fire Iridium lens and a set of vented Fire Iridium lens.

The soft bag is able to fit the Jawbone and spare lenses in a little pouch, it’s somewhat of a tight fit though so I don’t know if it’s all that practical to keep the spares in there.

I spent some time playing with the different colour schemes of the Jawbone on Oakley’s site, I really liked some of the funky schemes I’ve made but since this custom piece will cost about $350 CAD, it’s best to err on the safe side. I’ve also never seen the Jawbone in person, so I wasn’t sure how it’ll fit or look on me. Yeah, I was taking a serious leap of faith here!

I initially wanted to try black top with orange bottom or orange top with black bottom to match the scheme of my car, but since web CG images are always way too misleading I went for something a bit more safe. I ended up going with an all black polished frame with orange accents. It’s not as bold, but I guess it’s alright – I opted for the polished black frames as they’re less prone to scratches from my past experience with the SG1.

It’s also been quite a number of years since I’ve had polarized lenses so I went for a set of polarized lenses with the Jawbone. An oddity occurred when I tried selecting the polarized lens from Oakley’s site though, it forced me to have the etching “Polarized” on the lens. I couldn’t remove it as an option, so I decided to etch the word “Fahrenheit” to match my car, once again. Unfortunately that forced the price to go up by $30 – lame. But in the end, it matched the Jawbone and Fire Iridium lens fairly well (as well as the car). LOL

The defining feature of the Jawbone is it’s ability to quickly change lenses and simply at that! All you have to do is flip up the nose support to unlock the lower frame, then just flip the lower frame down (or up depending on the orientation). The lenses slides out with a very light tug (it won’t fall out loosely), change the lens and flip the lower frame back and lock the nose clips. All done!

My alternate lens selection is the vented Fire Iridium lens – I really like this look, makes the Jawbone look even more aggressive. It also helps vent the air during hot & humid days, heck, even when it’s cold it’ll help with the fogging. I did have some concerns about light bleeding through the edges, but after testing them out for a couple of days I found it’s barely noticeable.

The view through the vented Fire Iridium lens makes the images a little warmer / yellower looking. It does a great job of cutting out the brightness and washed out colours. According to Oakley’s spec sheet, the light transmission for this lens is 16%.

As for the polarized Fire Iridium lenses, the images look more smoke rather than yellow, the light transmission is indicated at 10%, so it is darker than the regular Fire Iridium lens. Being polarized, it really helps increase contrast and cut down on reflection. You can see some examples below, they’re not the best quality images, but you get the point.

I did notice something a little different about these Fire Iridium lenses and that is from certain angles if I roll my eyes around, I can see some ghosting images. Especially if there’s a reflection, from certain angles it seems like there are orange holographic dots floating about. It’s a little disorienting if you ask me. At first I thought it was just the polarized lens that did this, but after testing out the vented lens, I found it to be the case too althought not as bad. Also from certain angles, the polarized lens makes things feel like you’re looking through a pair of 3D glasses. You can see some of the ghosting of reflections in the below pic, notice the bottom part of the right lens. I’m guessing it’s the iridium coating since it’s on both pair of lenses, but since this is my first Oakley, I’m not 100% sure.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good pair of polarized sunglasses, I’ve completely forgotten just how great and useful they are in cutting down reflection. Don’t believe me? Still on the fence whether polarized lenses are worth the money? Just take a look below at the results, left is normal view and the right is through the polarized lens. Sorry for the crappy quality, I took the pictures with my Blackberry just before going to work.

One other thing that I didn’t mention yet about my Jawbone is that I had ordered the Asian Fit frame. But to be honest, I can’t tell if that’s what I got or not as there were no labeling on/in the package or frames that would indicate this is an Asian Fit frame. It looks like a regular Jawbone to me, althought I don’t have a regular Jawbone to compare side by side. Top-down view of my Jawbone looks very similar to some of the other regular Jawbone pictures I see on the Internet. But luckily even if this is a regular Jawbone, it fit my face fairly well – I happen to have a taller nose bridge and my face isn’t as flat as the typical Asian face. I am, however, using the thicker nose support pad at the moment so the frame doesn’t touch my face. I haven’t tried the smaller pads yet to compare, but the thicker ones seem fine. Frame isn’t touching my face and my eye lashes aren’t touching the lens. The stems are also round enough to clear the side of my (GIANT) head – it’s not too tight and not too loose – just right!

All in all, I find the Jawbone a great replacement to my Wiley-X SG1, unfortunately the pricing is pretty steep! I don’t think I’ll be spending this kind of money anymore on sunglasses for awhile, good thing too because the quality of the Jawbone is superb and I have no doubt it’ll last a long time. The optics of the lenses are great too, minus the odd holographic reflections which I think is due to the Fire Iridium coating. The Livestrong and regular versions of the Jawbone at stores are retailing for around $250 CAD, most of the cost of my custom is due to the polarized lens and lens etching.

If the Jawbone is in your price range and you’re on the fence about getting one, don’t be – you won’t be sorry with the purchase!