Petit logo

Kontan vwè zòt latitud an mwen !

La Latitude Rhum de Frank Gygli

The Swiss Army Knife

by Ludovic & Frank Gygli

Last update 21.09.2015


Lire le texte en français


The Swiss Army Knife joins in the lineage of pocketknives,

as famous Laguiole, been born in 1829,

or the Opinel, been born in 1890.

The peculiarity of the pocketknife it is to have one or several blades that we can fold up in one sleeve of wood, horn or plastic.

But what distinguishes the Swiss Army knife of its French cousins, is that they are gadgets besides the blades.

More than a knife, it is a pocket toolbox.

The famous red knife with white cross is 120 years old.

The first factory of Swiss Army knife Victorinox opened in Swiss German, 120 years ago in Ibach, in the canton of Schwiz.

Second make Wenger opened nine years later in Swiss French, in Delémont, in the canton of Jura.

Karl Elsener (1860-1918)

The inventor of the Swiss Army knife, Karl Elsener, based his company in 1884 and the first “knives of the soldier” were delivered to the Swiss army in 1891.

In 1897, the official patent of the knives of Swiss officer is deposited.

It is this model which will be marketed outside the army, because the knife of the soldier have no corkscrew, nor small blade, opposite to the knife of the officers.

Karl Elsener's company takes the name of the mother’s creator in 1909 and is called dices this year: Victoria.

12 years later, in 1921, the use of the stainless steel (“inox” in French) for the manufacturing of the Swiss Army knives gives the idea to Karl Elsener to merge the name of the brand Victoria and the “inox” word, what gives birth to Victorinox.

The manufacturing of the Swiss Army knife was always of very high quality and in a moderate price.

At the end of the second world war, the American soldiers based in Germany will be the first ones to make known the Swiss Army knife abroad, where it will wear the name of “Swiss Army Knife”.

Victorinox makes hundred of models of different Swiss Army knives and in product 34’000 a day, which is 7 millions a year.

They are distributed all over the world.

Always innovator Victorinox sometimes integrates electronics into his products, as laser pointers or lamps, she has just created, for example, a knife with a key USB of 128 Mb: the “Swiss memory”.


Created in 1893, the Wenger Company gave to the Swiss Army knife its current shape with smooth sides and developed a surprising variety of remarkably effective tools.

Wenger produces a daily average furthermore of 22’000 units, which is 4 and a half million a year.

Victorinox and Wenger are both only suppliers of the Swiss army at the rate of 50 % of knives each.

They are also the only ones begun to the world to have the right of Produce the real Swiss Army knives.

We recognize the true Swiss Army knife in its white cross, which can have two different forms :

that of and that of

The Swiss Army knife is built in a very meticulous way as an object of high precision and assembled as one thousand leaves. Its manufacturing is practically identical at Victorinox and at Wenger, set apart some trade secrets, although, since 2005, Victorinox acquired Wenger.

The Swiss Army knife was often copied without ever being equaled. Copies come mainly from china, but the quality of the imitations is not for the technical height of the original model.

From the earth to the moon

If all the adventurers of the world make their fellow traveler, it is completely natural.

"On the other hand, surprise, more and more ladies also choose it as basic object. Moreover Victorinox created a special handbag model called “Swiss Card Lite”.

A Swiss Army knife and an end of thread are already enough to pull you of difficult situations.

The temptation is to have the most complete model, but the solution is to have the good one.

Every profession has its small specificities and the Swiss knife tries to adapt itself to it. We find for example a special knife for :

The cyclists

The watchmakers

The computer specialists

The fishermen

The hunters

and many other models…

Claude Nicollier, the Swiss astronaut, and all the astronauts of the  have even a model conceived specially for them, which does not exist on the market and which wears the engraving of the space shuttle Columbia.

In 120 years, the Swiss Army knife was made a reputation of object of high technology all over the world. It is often taken in example to illustrate the ingenuity of a product good for everyone and everything. It has a brand image of reliability, precision and quality.

It thus naturally became a symbol of Switzerland, quite as watches, Swiss cheese (Gruyere) and chocolate.