Pince-nez spectacles were the 19th-century glasses that distinguished professionals and aristocrats. Spectacles with no temples that clip onto the nose actually made their first appearance at the end of the 13th century. They were rediscovered two years ago by two Austrian eyewear specialists, Gerald and Martin Lasnik, who now produce them in Graz under the Seeoo brand name. They come with a small metal case, a bit like a business card case, that fits easily in a jacket pocket.
The story began in 2010, when a client came up with an original request for a pair of pince-nez. The Lasniks took up the challenge and decided it could be a real business opportunity. They started up in business with an Italian producer, Massimo Maglione, to whom they gave the worldwide distribution rights for Seeoo. After a good reception at Mido in 2011, the product confirmed its success at the 2012 edition of the Italian show. Volumes are still limited, and production on a small scale, with bigger numbers planned for 2014 when the item has had time to gain recognition in the most important markets. The frames are made of beta titanium with acetate rims.
Maglione is chairman of Clic Products, the company that produces Clic reading glasses, famous for the magnet that connects the two lenses at the bridge when the wearer needs them. Clics are now sold in 256 countries, with total sales to date of some 40 million pairs, only a few million of them in Italy. The company will use the same network for Seeoo, which will retail at €120 a pair, compared with €80 for a pair of Clic glasses. In 2011 Clic Products generated turnover of €20 million.
The company has five subsidiaries: in Germany, Vienna, Madrid, San Francisco and Tokyo. Elsewhere it uses distributors, some of which are exclusive.