ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
HISTORY WITH A VIEW
Luxxoptica is renowned for its stunning style and captivating stories, which are embodied in its hallmark collection of restored World War II antique ‘Big Eye’ optics.
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day.” We’ve often heard this phrase, but the founder of Luxxoptica has truly embraced it as his own.
At the helm of Luxxoptica, he spends his days enveloped in passion, acquiring and restoring original World War II antique “Big Eye” optics. Developed as ‘Big Eye’ military binoculars in the early to mid-20th century, these pieces are not only architecturally striking but also aesthetically breathtaking. Once tools of war, they have now been transformed into something truly breathtaking.
The allure of these pieces captivated Luxxoptica’s founder during a visit to a friend’s gallery. This led to the collection of WWII “Big Eye” binoculars, designed with anastigmatic lenses to correct spherical aberration. Used by the German, Japanese, and British militaries as anti-aircraft rangefinders, they often returned home as ‘war trophies’ with troops. With his collection quickly expanding into the double digits, Luxxoptica was born.
Luxxoptica specializes in restoring antique WWII “Big Eye” binoculars found worldwide, obtained from a diverse network including collectors, gallery owners, and estate dealers. A notable historical point: during WWII, when Japan was occupied, the US military demilitarized Japanese naval vessels, often stripping these pieces from ships to bring home as trophies. Sadly, many ended up forgotten in boxes, unused.
These pieces, with their bright metals, rich wooden tripods, top-of-the-line lenses, and sleek aesthetics, are irresistible to collectors. They are not just statement pieces with form and function but also evoke a sense of wonderment, bearing witness to a myriad of historical events – from triumphs to tragedies, victories to losses.
Companies like Nikko and Toko were major suppliers of optics during the war, with Nikko eventually becoming the largest supplier for the Japanese military. This relationship began during WWI, when Japanese officials mandated local manufacturers, such as Nippon Kogaku (Japan Optical Company), to design and produce lenses. This led to the formation of Nippon Kogaku KK in 1918, the precursor to modern-day Nikon.
Comparing the binoculars produced by the Germans and the Japanese is like comparing apples to oranges. The Japanese models were significantly larger. Interestingly, both German and Japanese manufacturers used glass from the same source: over 200 tons of optical-grade glass was supplied by the Germans to the Japanese during WWII, all produced by Schott Glass Works, which remains a leading optical glass producer today.
Luxxoptica states, “The demand for these types of optics is high among affluent homeowners who appreciate this unique, functional art. Often unknown to homeowners or decorators, these ‘Functional Art’ pieces generate immediate interest due to their historical significance and beautiful presentation. Our antiques were used by military powers including Japan, the US, Germany, England, and Russia during WWII, with the highest volumes produced by Germany and Japan. The large format, impressive Japanese pieces, boasting lens diameters up to 180mm, are particularly coveted.”
In addition to originals, Luxxoptica also creates stunning reproductions. Through reverse engineering, the team replicates the original designs to the finest detail, offering four models of the ‘Big Eye’ binoculars prevalent during WWII, each a labor of love and a tribute to history.