Oakley Invents World’s First Magnesium Eyewear Frame; Introduction of Switch Also Marks Awaited Launch of Oakley Premium Dealer Program
FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct, 2001–Oakley Inc. (NYSE:OO) today announced the introduction of Switch(TM) performance eyewear, believed to be the world’s first optical frame made of ultra-lightweight magnesium metal encased in a ceramic polymer coating.
Switch(TM) makes its first appearance this week in selected retail stores, including the company’s elite retail partners recently certified as “Oakley Premium Dealers”.
“Oakley has always been synonymous with innovation,” said Chief Executive Officer Jim Jannard. “Switch is the culmination of several years of exploration into new engineering and manufacturing techniques, expanding on properties of structural mechanics first discovered during the development of our popular X Metal(R) eyewear line.
“A product this unique warrants careful distribution through retailers that represent the best at showcasing and educating consumers about the superior performance characteristics of Oakley products,” continued Jannard.
“And, it’s the perfect way to mark the official launch of the Oakley Premium Dealer program. Now, more than ever, it’s important for consumers to know where to find Oakley’s newest creations. They won’t find Switch at Sunglass Hut. They will find it and other recent Oakley inventions at a select group of our most loyal and like-minded retail partners.”
Oakley Premium Dealer Program
The Oakley Premium Dealer program (OPD) is designed to help consumers identify retailers in their local area that carry the widest assortment of Oakley products and will be among the first to carry future Oakley innovations. So far, approximately 1,030 retail accounts, representing 2,038 individual retail locations, have been awarded the OPD designation and more are currently under consideration.
Consumers can identify an OPD by looking for the official “Oakley Premium Dealer” window sticker on the storefront and additional signage and display fixtures inside. In addition, Oakley offers a toll free number, 800/501-5835, and the company’s Web site (www.oakley.com) includes a dealer-locator feature to help consumers find the nearest OPD dealer in their area. The Web site also includes a Customer Alert (http://www.oakley.com/customer-alert.html) informing visitors about recent changes in Oakley’s relationship with Sunglass Hut.
The Switch(TM) Product Line
Oakley is offering its new Magnesium(TM) Switch(TM) eyewear in various frame/lens color configurations, including TiCopper frames with Ice lenses and Black Carbide frames with Black Iridium(R) lenses. The suggested retail price for Switch(TM) is US$225.
Within the next few months, the company is also planning to release two ophthalmic-specific frames featuring the new technology designed to accommodate lenses that provide the widest possible range of visual correction for those who require prescription eyewear. A sport-specific model will take full advantage of the superior strength-to-weight ratio of Oakley’s Magnesium(TM) eyewear innovation, maximizing durability and protection while maintaining comfort with a low-mass design.
The Story Behind the Invention
“Magnesium is a metal of unbelievably low weight and high strength,” said Oakley President Colin Baden. “Magnesium alloys are currently used in fighter jets and space vehicles but no one had perfected a technology to use magnesium in performance eyewear the way we have. Until now.”
To achieve this breakthrough, Oakley utilized a process of high-energy microplasmic oxidation to encase the alloy in a purified ceramic polymer and seal it at the molecular level. The technique is not without risk. “Magnesium ignites and burns with a brilliant white light,” Baden continued. “The metal is safe at normal temperatures but dangerously combustible at the extreme temperatures of production.”
Initial stagges of production include a molding process that requires more than 200 tons of force and 20,000 psi of pressure. Liquefied at 1100(degrees)F, the performance alloy is injected into precision-engineered molds within a timeframe of less than 30 milliseconds.
Sealing the metal in a protective ceramic mantle requires a turbine that rotates at 60,000 rpm in order to disperse ceramic polymer nanoparticles. High-energy microplasmic oxidation ensures that the magnesium alloy will be thoroughly encased in a uniform, homogeneous layer of ceramic polymer. The end result is a metal frame that meets the durability requirements of sports professionals while offering all-day comfort by minimizing weight.
For a secure and comfortable fit, the new frame will include spring-hinge mechanisms, as well as Unobtainium(R) nosebombs and earsocks. Oakley Unobtainium(R) is specially formulated to increase grip with moisture. In order to adapt the metal frame to diverse facial sizes, Oakley has utilized the same structural mechanics that it perfected for its X Metal(R) eyewear line. Flex couplers are incorporated at strategic points in the frame geometry, tuning flexibility while retaining structural integrity.
The geometry and lens/frame materials of Switch(TM) provide unsurpassed protection against high-velocity and high mass-impact. For high-velocity impact testing, a quarter-inch steel shot is fired from a pneumatic cannon at 102 mph. The high-mass impact test uses a metal spike (more than a pound of weight) dropped from more than four feet. The unique combination of Oakley’s Magnesium(TM) frame alloy and Plutonite(R) lens material allows Switch(TM) to exceed the standards of these impact tests, established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Web site http://www.oakley.com/ansi is available for further information on Oakley eyewear testing.
The durable Plutonite(R) lens material of Switch(TM) inherently blocks 100% of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light. Plutonite(R) also exceeds all ANSI Z87.1 standards for optical performance. Oakley’s patented Three-Point Fit maintains precise optical alignment while offering a comfortable, secure mount. Available Iridium(R) lens coatings are engineered to reduce glare and tune transmission.
About Oakley Inc.
Oakley: An original, unexpected and innovative world brand. Building on its legacy of market-leading sunglasses, the company offers expanding lines of premium performance footwear, apparel, accessories, watches and prescription eyewear to consumers in more than 70 countries. Trailing-12-month net sales through June 30, 2001 totaled $425.4 million and generated net income of $59.9 million — a 14.1 percent net margin.
Oakley Inc. news releases, SEC filings and the company’s Annual Report are available at no charge through the company’s Web site at www.oakley.com.