One of the most famous films made in the past several decades which featured a form of pince nez are the Matrix movies, featuring a bizarre, almost Gnostic view of the world in which our perceived reality is a duplicitous computer-generated illusion, and the real world is a storm-wracked wasteland inhabited by murderous robots. One of the characters in this film, named Morpheus, sports a pair of mirrored sunglasses with a pince nez mounting – a type of pince nez which has entered the popular imagination as “Matrix glasses”.
Turning antique pince nez into Matrix glasses
Since many pince nez are missing their lenses, or consist only of a bridge piece and associated mountings to set up a pair of rimless glasses, it is a simple matter to buy these and insert the lenses necessary to transform them into a pair that would not look out of place among the daring, deadly adventurers and heroes found in the film.
The method of making Matrix glasses as close as possible to the variety shown in the film is to buy a set of pince nez bridges and plaquettes for rimless lenses (those in the film were rimless). Go to an optometrist’s shop or any other local business that will make custom-sized sunglasses lenses for you, and hire them to make you a pair of small oval sunglasses lenses.
Pince nez bridges designed for rimless use attach to the lenses using a screw that threads through holes at each end of the bridge. You will need a hole in each lens at the appropriate point to mount one end of the pince nez bridges to these elements. Since ordinary safety glass will usually disintegrate when drilled, you may need special glass as well. Be sure to have the holes placed correctly for the specific mounting needs of the bridge piece you have acquired.
Remember that Matrix glasses must be mirrored in order to be authentic! Simple smoked glass is not enough – two dark, oval mirrors must be fitted to the vintage eyeglasses fittings to get the proper “Morpheus” look.
Alternate pince nez Matrix glasses
You can opt to match the Morpheus look as much as possible, or you can use other, rimmed antique pince nez frames to make your Matrix glasses. If you choose this option, you can get the authentic Matrix glasses look by inserting the darkest mirrored sunglasses lenses you can find into your chosen vintage eyeglasses frames. However, the different frames that you use will give you an individual look – you will still be wearing Matrix glasses, but not copycat Matrix glasses.
Oxfords transformed into Matrix glasses will give you the look of a scientist or perhaps a pilot (though not, more than likely, of an Earthly craft). Hoop bridge Matrix glasses are suited to an intellectual or aristocratic look, while astig variants are more casual.
Modern matrix glasses
Though some modern producers of novelties make and market Matrix glasses, these are generally far inferior to the production values put into the original pince nez. Modern Matrix glasses are cheap costume pieces that do not look as good and will likely break within a few months, or a year or two at best. Making a pair of vintage pince nez into Matrix glasses will give you a high quality, rugged, tasteful set of glasses that will serve you faithfully for many years – after all, they have survived nearly a century in good condition already.