Victorinox is a knife manufacturer and luxury watchmaker based in the town of Ibach, in the Canton of Schwyz, Switzerland. It is well known for its Swiss Army knives. The Swiss Army knives made by Victorinox are made of a proprietary blend steel from Germany and France. Since its acquisition of rival Wenger in 2005, it has become the sole supplier of multi-purpose knives to the Swiss army. It is the biggest manufacturer of pocket knives in the world.
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 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.
In 1989 Victorinox entered the timepiece business in the United States under the brand name “Swiss Army”. Victorinox has various collections of watches which range from luxury dress watches to rugged dive watches. They feature mechanical and quartz movements. Collections include Infantry, Divemaster, Airboss, I.N.O.X. The timepieces are produced in Switzerland.
Victorinox watches at the Wristwatch Bureau (Click here)