By Preston Fassel

It’s not often that a technological innovation comes along that stands to potentially change the face of the optical industry: Nosepads; PALs; spring hinges. Each answered an extant demand, and, in the process, forever altered the way glasses are made, sold, and worn. In my years of selling, I wondered myself what it was like to have been around to witness such radical new developments. Now, I know.

Ladies and gentleman of the Optisphere, I present to you the Safilo e-hinge. “The new SAFILO e-hinge represents the sum of the creativity and the achievements gained in more than 40 years since the launch of the first Elasta hinge,” says Vladimiro Baldin, Safilo’s Chief Licensed Brands and Global Product Officer. Indeed, it seems like something more than 100 years in the making: a spring hinge so durable that Safilo offers a 15-year guarantee on its longevity. “The idea for this hinge was to combine all the best features of the different Elasta hinges developed over the years, such as superior strength and durability, double spring, use of titanium, reparability, into a new hinge with an updated and distinctive design representing the style of today’s collection,” says Baldin. Having handled some of the e-hinge frames myself, I can say that it’s a spring hinge unlike any other I’ve seen, offering a snug, secure, “hefty” feel that’s comfortable and offers the extra sense of security that comes with a product guaranteed to last a decade and a half. “The superior durability and long-lasting impeccable performance were key… when we started to work on the new hinge,” Baldin explained to me. “It was one of the amazing aspects of our first Elasta hinge and our benchmark. We achieved this result through the combination of many elements…. The springs are always compressed inside the hinge, so they are never fully extended. As a result, they do not loosen over time like others do. The double spring also guarantees extra durability, so if one doesn’t work properly, the other one takes over. Also, the screws are Teflon coated, so, even after 200,000 cycles, they are perfectly in place. And, of course, the usage of titanium for the hinge box guarantees superior strength and lightness at the same time.”

Imagine it: The opportunity to offer a patient a pair of frames that will last for fifteen years. I know I’d love the guarantee of my car, my suits, and my watches lasting for fifteen years. Glasses? An item that countless people spend nerve-wracking minutes (and, in the case of a handful of patients, hours and even days) picking out? It’s an opportunity to develop a trust and reliability with patients heretofore unavailable. With the combined trendiness and timelessness of the frames’ designs (with more to come, Baldin says, especially on the women’s side of things), they’ll still be in style those fifteen years from now. Theoretically, it expedites a returning patient’s visit from exam-framestyling-lens sale to simply getting them an updated RX and accompanying lenses—meaning a wide-open frame allowance, which makes successive second-pair sun, reader, and backup sales that much easier.

Will the e-hinge truly revolutionize the optical world? If the design is implemented across a broader range, it’s definitely a safe bet.