Fresh Goods: Wenger Swiss Army Sport Shades

Venerable pocketknife manufacturer enters eyewear market
Staff Writer

The new Wenger Sport Glasses system, shown here with the fog-fighting winter lens option

Ever since Victorinox acquired longtime rival Wenger in 2005, it’s kept the brand intact and used it as a sort of laboratory for new ideas—footwear, wood-handled pocket knives, solar chargers. Among its latest category roll-outs, the brand’s new eyewear concept captured our attention.

While the convention of interchangeable lens options has been around since Smith first debuted its groundbreaking Slider series back in the mid-90s, Wenger has taken a novel approach with its new sport glasses lineup.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all philosophy, Wenger serves up its eyewear a la carte. Start by picking the frame option of your choice from four available colors, then add one of four lens options, which include category-specific pieces for water sports, running, cycling and mountaineering.

The running lens is thoughtfully tailored with a lower-profile lens and extra vent holes near the nose piece to sync away heat and condensation during this relatively slow-speed activity. The cycling lens employs vent holes only on the periphery, to avoid high-speed wind channeling directly into the wearer’s eye. Wenger’s water sports lens provides panoramic protection and is polarized to cut glare on the water. Finally—and most interestingly—the winter mountaineering option uses fog-fighting double lens construction, a rare feature outside of goggles.

Clockwise from top: The water-sports lens, winter lens, cycling lens and running lens.

Additionally, the glasses include interchangeable nose pieces to customize fit, a neoprene forehead pad to wick away sweat, and an optional prescription insert.

Just released at the beginning of the year, favorable reviews have already started trickling in. An interesting concept, yes, but how do they stack up against the competition?

The 27-gram frames are lightweight, but not quite as feathery as the leading lightweight options from the heavyweight manufacturers in the field. The price tag may scare off prospective customers, too—the frames cost $175, and lenses range from $55 to $90.

For reference, Smith’s $160 PivLock V2 Max model, which weighs 26 grams complete with lens, and Oakley’s popular $160 Radar model, which (barely) tips the scales at 24 grams, with lens.

Even through they’re pricey and don’t win every weigh-in, Wenger hasn’t been in business for a century by turning out shoddy product.