There’s no doubt Rodenstock is a brand of legendary repute. Its eyewear has been loved by political and cultural figures from around the world – former presidents Michael Gorbachov (Russia), Bill Clinton (America) and Helmut Kohl (Germany) have all sported Rodenstock. So too have the iconic film stars Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and Claudia Schiffer, who were also brand ambassadors. So what makes this brand so desired?
There’s a simple reason for why Presidents, actors and the public alike love Rodenstock frames and lenses – it comes down to a scientific approach to optics and German precision in design and manufacturing, says Bettina Bubel, Rodenstock’s lead designer in Munich.
Having been immersed in the industry since commencing her career after completing studies in jewellery and product design at university, Ms. Bubel is passionate about innovative eyewear design. She joined Rodenstock in 2011.
“Since its inception in 1877, by Josef Rodenstock, these are the qualities our company has been renowned for. In fact, our founder Josef has always been interested in science and driven by precision – he started off by selling and manufacturing scientific instruments and measuring devices before graduating to spectacles.”
Mr. Rodenstock famously put forward the revolutionary thesis that sight defects are not an illness, and can be corrected using suitable spectacles and/ or suitable lenses
Mr. Rodenstock famously put forward the revolutionary thesis that sight defects are not an illness, and can be corrected using suitable spectacles and/or suitable lenses. In 1880, even before he established the Rodenstock company, he had registered a patent for the world’s first ‘diaphragm spectacles’, which were to become the first spectacles in a modern sense. Then, he marked the beginning of the 20th century by developing bifocal lenses with a welding seam – an early-stage version of progressive lenses.
“That patent for ‘diaphragm spectacles’ was the first of many that included Perfa lenses (1904); self-tinting lenses (1968) and progressives (1981),” says Ms. Bubel.
Today Rodenstock researches, designs, develops, and manufactures optical and sun frames, as well as prescription lenses from its own premises. “Our research centre and the prototype production is in Munich and our engineering centre is in Regen,” explained Tim McCann, General Manager of Rodenstock in Australia.
In order to ensure spectacles can be optimally adjusted to the wearer, each model requires an average of 135 carefully coordinated production steps, 85 per cent of them completed by hand.
This concept has been recognised with a range of national and international awards, including a Red Dot Award in 2016 for product design. Rodenstock also received the German Federal Manufacturing Award in 2014, which recognised the technical innovation and engineering expertise of its Perfection t-Lite frame and an iF design award in 2017 for the R7054 Rodenstock frame, which features an innovative titanium cylinder hinge.
“Our patented titanium cylinder hinge works without screws and ensures a secure fit without causing pressure marks or headaches. We’ve tested it for durability in our quality-centre, putting it through more than 80,000 temple movements,” said Mr. McCann.
It goes without saying that quality is paramount for this German eyewear company. All components are examined, from the individual screw to the spectacle lens, for durability, cleanliness and quality. Frames and lens materials are subject to the strictest controls with regard to corrosion and skin compatibility.
Bettina Bubel says her eyewear is, “inspired by fashion trends as well as beautifully designed products, architecture, and vintage frames. I also like to seek inspiration from the many different faces that I encounter in everyday life and on the way to work,” she said.
She cites, as an example of Rodenstock’s iconic style, model R4792. “This titanium frame was inspired by a vintage frame. The special feature is the slimline temple, which is solely from titanium. This gives the frame a very classic look with a light effortless fit.”
Rodenstock releases more than 120 new spectacle and sun models every year, and Ms. Bubel describes the latest collections as being, “characterised by timeless shapes, innovative details, and balanced proportions”.
Sunglasses comprise about a quarter of the collection and are more fashion focussed. “Our sunglasses are usually larger in comparison to the correction frames and have stronger edge strengths. They are more suitable for current and shorter-lived trends. A correction frame is usually worn longer,” said Ms. Bubel.
A SINGLE SOURCE
Both spectacle and sunglass designs are developed by design and optics experts in Germany and are available with nearly all lens variations and virtually all prescriptions. Within the company’s ‘System of Better Vision’, frames and lenses are manufactured by long-term partners using certified German, Japanese, and Italian premium components, with titanium frames mostly made in Japan, a country which specialises in this area.
“The materials we use are all common in the eyewear industry. We work with stainless steel or titanium for metal frames and with acetate and polyamide for frames made of synthetic material. Rodenstock invented and uses its patented RXP polyamide which, for example, stands out with its high degree in terms of lightness and durability. Each material has its own characteristic traits, which makes them more favourable for certain types of frames. All metals are nickel free and skin friendly.”
Ms. Bubel says a holistic approach to eyewear design and manufacturing ensures optimal frame shape and fit, as well as the optimal lens fit and glazing.
“For us, the good look of a frame on a person’s face is as important as their ability to see better – design is therefore more than just aesthetics. It means spectacles must be perfect from a functional point of view,” she said.
WHAT GOES AROUND
Rodenstock frames and lenses passed the endurance test in 1975 when its UV and sun protective spectacles were worn by a German-Austrian expedition team that conquered Kanchenjonga, a peak at an altitude of 8600 metres in Nepal. At that time, sunglasses and glacier glasses were part of the equipment of extreme mountaineers.
Now Rodenstock has launched a new ‘Kantsch’ collection, inspired by the frames worn by those mountaineers, and made completely from titanium. The pilot shaped “Kantsch” is available in four colours and two lens shapes. Depending on the model variant, contrast-enhancing or Polarised sunglasses lenses can be fitted.
The company has also relaunched rocco by Rodenstock, a fashion forward frame that sold in its millions when it was first launched in launched in the 60s… and worn by both President and actor – Ronald Reagan.
And that just shows, what comes around goes around… and it just gets better.