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Victorinox – Swiss Army Knives

We all love the swissarmy knife at the EDCCooperative, so much so that a likeness of one appears on our logo… 

As we mentioned a couple of weeks back, we hit ten thousand followers on Instagram, it only felt right that we approach one of the biggest companies that contribute to a massive proportion of photos on Instagram relating to edc… Victorinox. 

They only went and replied and thought it would be a great idea for them to get in on the giveaway. We were absolutely blown away to say the least… so fast forwards a couple of weeks and it arrived… ready for one lucky person to win. 

As we all know hashtags come and go, like the #sakarmy one that we ‘invented’ many moons ago, this was adopted by the masses and was allegedly trademarked by an individual… so we let it lie and started using others like, #sakandsnacks #sakandcoffee and such, feel free to have a nosey at the hashtags and see what our followers have been using them for and to get some awesome images of Swiss Army knives. 

No, we shall take a fascinating look into the Victorinox company.  A company we all love and hold in the highest of esteem.  The SAK is everything to us all and taking a little time out to read some facts taken from victorinox themselves and other sources gives a great overview of an amazing company and brand. 

The company was founded in 1884 as the workshop of Karl Elsener in Ibach. Elsener in 1891 co-founded Schweizerischer Messerschmiedverband, an association of Swiss knife manufacturers. Elsener and his colleagues from this time delivered knives to the Swiss army. In 1892, most of Elsener’s colleagues left the enterprise, as it became apparent that Solingen manufacturers could deliver at a lower price. Elsener persisted in competing with Solingen, incurring severe financial losses.

Elsenser’s Schweizer Offiziers- und Sportmesser was patented in 1897, later marketed internationally as the Original Swiss Army Knife. This knife was not adopted by the Swiss Armed Forces as ordnance, but its commercial success allowed the company to recover financially.

On the death of his mother in 1909, Elsener named his company “Victoria” in her honour. The introduction of the Swiss coat of arms as company logo dates to the same year. In 1921, the company was renamed to the present “Victorinox”, a portmanteau of “Victoria” and “inox”, an abbreviation for acier inoxydable, the French term for stainless steel.

During 1908 to 2005, the delivery of knives to the Swiss Armed Forces was shared with Wenger. A compromise between the two companies stated that Victorinox would market their knives as the “Original Swiss Army Knives”, while Wenger would market theirs as “Genuine Swiss Army Knives”. Wenger was acquired by Victorinox in 2005. Knives actually made for the army (as opposed to the generic “Swiss Army” trademark) are known as Soldatenmesser (“soldier knives”). These were produced in five generations, known by the date of their introduction as models 1890, 1908, 1951, 1961 and “08” (with minor variants within each generation). Model 1890 was originally produced by Wester & Co, Solingen, and produced by Elsenser in competition with the Solingen manufacturer. Models 1908 and 1951 were also produced by several companies in Germany and Switzerland. Model 1961 was produced exclusively by Victorinox and Wenger, and Model 08, introduced after the acquisition of Wenger, is exclusively manufactured by Victorinox.

Originating from inside a cutler’s workshop in 1884, Victorinox stands for quality, functionality, innovation and iconic design, and has done for more than 130 years.

Today, Victorinox is a global company with five product categories: Swiss Army Knives, Household and Professional Knives, Watches, Travel Gear and Fragrances.

Victorinox TImeline 

1884

Karl Elsener I opens a knife cutler’s workshop in Ibach-Schwyz. His mother Victoria actively supports him in his endeavours. 

1891

Karl Elsener I establishes the Association of Swiss Master Cutlers. As a result, he is able to deliver the first major supply of soldier’s knives to the Swiss Army.

1897

The original Swiss Officer’s and Sports Knife is patented. It is known around the world today as the “Swiss Army Knife”.

1909

In memoriam of his mother, Karl Elsener I chooses her first name Victoria as the brand name and registers the emblem with the cross and shield as a trademark. Today it is a registered trademark in over 120 countries.

1921

The invention of stainless steel (Inox) is a highly significant development for the cutlery industry. The combination of the two words “Inox” and “Victoria” results in today’s company and brand name – Victorinox.

1931

Carl Elsener II introduces automation. In 1931, Brown Boveri is commissioned to set up the world’s first all-electric hardening plant in Ibach. This guarantees that all knives are of a consistent high quality.

1945 

US soldiers stationed in Europe after World War Two buy it in large quantities and it is a popular souvenir to take home.

1950

Carl Elsener III takes over the company management.

1977 

The Original Swiss Army Knife becomes an exhibit for design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1978

NASA orders 50 Officer Knives Master Craftsman 

1979

Transformation of sole proprietorship “Messerfabrik Carl Elsener” into the family-owned company “Victorinox AG.”

1984 

The company doubles its manufacturing and office space.

1989

Market entry for “Watches” under its Swiss Army brand in North America with its former U.S. sales partner.

1992 

Opening of the first sales subsidiary in Japan.

1994 

Establishment of Carl and Elise Elsener Gut Foundation with the mission to support national and international charitable projects.

1999 

Market entry for “Travel Gear” with the American TRG Group in St. Louis as licensee.

2000 

Establishment of the Victorinox Foundation which holds 90% of the share capital of Victorinox AG. The remaining 10% belong to the non-profit Carl and Elise Elsener-Gut Foundation.

2001 

Launch of a clothing line in the U.S. and opening of the first Victorinox store in Soho, New York.

2005 

Acquisition of the long-standing Swiss knife and watch manufacturer Wenger SA in Delémont. Wenger remains an independently operating subsidiary of Victorinox.

2007 

Carl Elsener IV takes over the company management and further expands Victorinox as a global multi-product brand.

Establishment of Victorinox Swiss Army Fragrance AG.

2008 

Opening of the first European Victorinox flagship store in London.

2011 

Opening of the Swiss Knife Valley Visitor Center in Brunnen, Switzerland.

Carl Elsener III gets inducted into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame.

2013

Integration of the Wenger knife business into the Victorinox brand.

2014

Acquisition of the travel gear business from previous licensee and establishment of the new business unit Victorinox Travel Gear AG.

Opening of a store at a prime location in the city center of Zurich.

Flagship store Zurich

Carl Elsener gets inducted into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame

The BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame® is the highest honour on the planet for individuals who demonstrate exceptional contributions to the world of knives. Only one or two people are inducted annually during a ceremony at BLADE Show.

2016

Construction of the Watch Competence Center in Delémont, Switzerland.

2017

Discontinuation of Apparel to focus on the core product categories.

Production of 500-millionth “Original Swiss Army Knife”.

2018

Ground breaking for a new distribution centre in Seewen, Switzerland.

The investment of some CHF 50 million represents a clear commitment to the Schwyz location.

125th anniversary of Wenger.

Having visited one of the flagship stores in London, England it shows how important and influential the brand is.  The way they have grown and also adapted with the times is something to applaud.  Given the increase in everyday carry items such as knives, mutlitools, pocket pry bars and bottle openers my hat is duely tipped to all at Victorinox for staying relevant and up to date in such a saturated environment as such awesomeness.  

Modified Swiss Army Knives are becoming ever popular which again shows the strength of the iconic multi tool.  Whether it be a hunter, cadet, pioneer or classic there is a Swiss Army Knife for everyone.  

• References from Victorinox.com and Wikipedia

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