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Swiss Army Knives

by Victorinox

Victorinox logo

The Victorinox Swiss Army knives is a penknife incorporating several blades and other tools such as scissors and screwdrivers. 

It became quickly famous world wide due to its practicality and overall quality. Victorinox Swiss knife is a knife that requires very little and gives its all.

All in all, this knife is a good example of quality exceeding the price.

The Victorinox Story

At the end of the 1880s, the Swiss army decided to buy a new folding knife for its soldiers, to be used among other things to eat (kitchen knife) and to dismantle the prescription rifle. The tools included on this model was a blade, a can opener, a flat screwdriver and a punch.


In January 1891, the Swiss army declared this knife fit for service, under the name "Model 1890". This one has a handle in blackened oak wood (some were later made of ebony). Since at that time no Swiss company had the necessary production capacity, the first fifteen thousand knives were delivered by the German knife manufacturer Wester & Co. of Solingen in October 1891.

Already, at the end of 1891, the Karl Elsener company in Ibach in the canton of Schwyz, which later became Victorinox, took over. Many other knife manufacturers from Germany and Switzerland produced these knives and the following models, including the firm created in 1893 in Delémont under the name of Paul Boéchat & Cie, which later became Wenger.

On June 12, 1897, Karl Elsener had his invention protected and took out a patent on the "Swiss army and sports knife". Later, he named the knife after his mother, Victoria, and in 1921, the name Victorinox appeared. Victorinox comes from the contraction of name of the mother of founder Victoria and inox from "acier inoxydable" witch stands for stainless steel in french.


The world premiere of this knife was born after the Second World War, when American soldiers discovered it during their stay in Europe. The international name of "Swiss Army Knife" is due to the difficulty in pronunciation of the official German name "Schweizer Offiziersmesser" by these soldiers. The knife then underwent many improvements over the years. Consumer models are mostly red, unlike military models. They wear a different Swiss badge depending on the manufacturer. The high quality of manufacturing contributes to the reputation of these products. There are also many inexpensive imitations, usually from China. Their quality is generally disappointing; the steel used oxidizes easily and the blade articulation system quickly gets loose.

Until the 1990s, the knives given to the Swiss soldiers bore a punch with the letters KMV (abbreviation of "Kriegsmaterialverwaltung", or "Intendance of war material" in English).

In 2005, Wenger was bought by its competitor Victorinox, suffering financial difficulties since the twin towers attack in 2001, but continued as a separate brand. According to Victorinox, this takeover aims to prevent a takeover by foreign investors, which could have tarnished the reputation of the Swiss army knife.

At the end of 2007, the Swiss army announced its intention to buy a new model of knife, better suited to current needs. Following a controversy, the demand for supply being global, it was finally Victorinox which won the contract.


In 2014, Victorinox announced the disappearance of the Wenger knife brand, which now works in the watchmaking and luggage sector.

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