Premium Sunglasses: The Bernina

Premium Sunglasses: The Bernina

From dream to reality

Dare we call these the best damn sunglasses we’ve ever made? Quite possibly. Read on to see for yourself.

When we set out to design a new pair of premium sunglasses, we knew the challenge would be balancing elevated style with performance-level functionality. Our lofty goal? Make something truly unique that showcased the rigor of our design process and pushed our product line to new heights.

“Design is just as much about functionality—how something works—as how it looks.”

- Sindre Klepp, Head of Design at Sunski

Process

At Sunski, every new silhouette follows a rigorous design process. But the honest truth is that we approached the Bernina differently. From the start, the Bernina was something special.

From countless prototypes to the most complex mold we’ve ever made, materials science, product testing, refining and finally receiving our first off-tool samples, the development of this new style was anything but ordinary.

Design at Sunski is a rigorous process. Some of the many parts of the Bernina created during the evolution of this new design.

Design at Sunski is a rigorous process. Some of the many parts of the Bernina created during the evolution of this new design.

Function-Forward Design

Typical metal frame sunglasses are relatively low in coverage, heavy and tend to slide down your nose. (You know, all the reasons you end up wearing your sport sunglasses even when you wish you were rocking something a bit better looking).

So our first design challenge was to solve for all those factors.

Most metal sunglasses frames rely on small adjustable nose pads on steel wire to accommodate a range of fits. But as sunglasses designers, we were inspired to create something better, more functional and easier to use.

“Those wire pads aren’t always the most pleasing to look at and they leave indents on your nose bridge. Not to mention what they do to anyone with long hair,” says Sindre Klepp, Sunski’s head of design.

“By creating a keyhole, which silhouette blends the two materials together, the lenses can stay the appropriate distance apart, while still having the frames fit perfectly on your nose due to the way the nose pads are sculpted—almost like a beautiful hip detail on a Ferrari.”

The silhouette was carefully considered to create harmony between each individual part.

The silhouette was carefully considered to create harmony between each individual part.

Creating adequate side protection without wrapping the frame was also a challenge, as too much wrap would interfere with the archetype of premium sunglasses like this.

By taking inspiration from our glacier sunglasses collection, most notably, the Treeline, we experimented with mini sidewings to create that additional protection and coverage. After a few iterations of prototypes, the sidewings proved to be both functional and a unique detail that set the Bernina apart.

A sketch of the sidewings, which add side glare protection.

A sketch of the sidewings, which add side glare protection.

Bingo. Did we have a winner? All signs pointed to yes, including the fact that our team couldn’t seem to stop wearing the Bernina prototypes.

Inspiration and Vibe 

Every product at Sunski has a story. The story of the Bernina begins with visual inspiration and, in Klepp’s words, asking the rhetorical question: 

“How can we create a product that looks like it’s meant to be worn driving a vintage Alfa along the windy roads of northern Italy, while also making it ideal during a marathon?” 

Not an easy task, but one that we set to solve. 

In order to do our vision justice, the Bernina required architectural lines and clean construction. Look closely and you’ll see there are hints of vintage aviation and racing in the details, from the stamped linear grooves running along the temples to the perforated Sidewings inspired by the rivet patterns on vintage fighter jets. You could say the Bernina is where classic Top Gun style meets our modern design aesthetic.

Creating a mood board is a critical step in the design process at Sunski.

Creating a mood board is a critical step in the design process at Sunski.

What's in a name?

Our search for the perfect product name honed in on the rugged mountains of the Swiss Alps. Why Switzerland? Well, Sindre is Norwegian and grew up skiing in the Alps. And our co-founder Tom spent time living abroad in Europe and had great memories of hiking and skiing in the mountains there. Plus, as avid skiers and mountaineers, our team loves anything that evokes the spirit of high altitude adventures. 

Fun fact: The working name of the Bernina was ‘Metalson.’ 

At Sunski, we strive to choose unique product names that capture our love of the outdoors and the amazing places around the world where humans can interact with nature. So when Tom stumbled upon the Bernina Pass, a high mountain pass cut between two peaks, intersected by a red train, the name was a done deal. 

As Tom said, “Who wouldn’t want to ride that amazing train and explore those beautiful mountains while wearing these fantastic sunglasses?”

Materials + Construction 

Our outdoor-loving design team geeks out just as hard on product design and materials as we do on planning our next backcountry mission. By choosing lightweight, high-quality materials, we made sure the Bernina would stand up to the rigors of serious adventures. 

The Bernina is made from SAE 304 stainless steel and durable TR90 plastic. Combined with the Sidewings, these strong and incredibly lightweight materials allow the construction to be more low profile, which translates to an ultralite fit and superior comfort for all day wear. 

“Creating a functional multi-material construction that lived up to our standard of lightweight and comfortable fit was definitely a tough challenge”

-Sindre Klepp, Head of Design at Sunski

Stainless Steel

Our SAE 304 stainless steel is less electrically and thermally conductive than carbon steel and is essentially non-magnetic. It has a higher corrosion resistance than regular steel and is widely used because of the ease in which it is formed into various shapes.

Even the Bernina’s lock-tight hinges are made of stainless steel, meaning that you don’t have to worry about the hinges loosening over time or the arms breaking off with normal wear and tear.

Premium sunglasses lenses

The Bernina is the first pair of Sunski sunglasses to be made with CR-39 Premium lenses. This lens offers superior optical clarity and strength with a reduced weight-to-mass ratio.

The Bernina is made with premium CR39 lenses, which allows supreme optical clarity in these premium sunglasses.

The Bernina is made with premium CR39 lenses, which allows supreme optical clarity in these premium sunglasses.

The result? You get to see the world more clearly and the whole frame is also stronger. Double win.

At just 2 millimeters, the optical clarity and strength is unrivaled for lightweight lenses, nearly achieving that of crown glass. (We avoid using glass for our lenses because it adds weight, which is exactly what you don’t want in a pair of performance sunglasses). 

Not to mention CR-39 offers the highest abrasion resistance of any uncoated optical plastic. To put it bluntly, these are the best damn lenses we’ve ever made.

Of course, like all Sunskis, the Bernina’s lenses come with polarization and full UVA/UVB protection.

Palladium coated for durability

We wanted to ensure that Bernina could be worn in harsh environments, including around saltwater. Palladium is known for its ability to absorb hydrogen, which can reduce the likelihood of the occurrence of hydrogen embrittlement. Palladium is also lighter than gold and offers comparable corrosion resistance. For a pair of premium sunglasses, we’re talking serious rough ‘n ready durability here–enough to survive a sailing or sport fishing trip, or an accidental dunk in a chlorinated pool. 

From stainless steel bullet to final arm

From stainless steel bullet to final arm

Electroplated for strength and finish

We topped things off with an electroplated finish. Which not only increases the frame durability, it also just looks really good. Electroplating increases the corrosion and abrasion resistance of the part. Combined with a palladium coating, it makes a superior quality part with a great finish. You’re welcome.  

Learn more and shop our new Bernina premium sunglasses.