Thought you knew everything about the heritage and history of Victorinox?
Our company was founded in 1884 and our journey from knife manufacturer with a strong social purpose to global brand available at over 500,000 points of sale worldwide is well known. As part of celebrating our heritage and identity, we are opening our archives to reveal some lesser-known parts of our history.
Smooth Alox scales
We all know and love the Alox scales with their trademark ribbed finish and bright colors. But in the 1990s, Victorinox released a 91mm Alox Officers knife with blue scales exclusively for the Dutch Army. This was actually the only 91 mm Officers knife ever released with Alox scales and even more unusual, the scales themselves were completely smooth. Soon we found that they scratched and marked quicker than the traditional ribbed Alox scales, so production of these knives was discontinued. Today they are quite a collector’s item.
The Swiss Army Paramedic Knife
Most people know our Pioneer X model with the scissors, which was released for the first time in 2016. However only very few people know that we first produced a prototype of this model way back in the early 1950s, a few years before the first ever Pioneer and the 1961 Soldier Knife were released.
The original idea was to create a Soldier’s Knife with scissors specifically for the Swiss Army Paramedics, so that they could easily cut bandages and plasters in the field. However, the Swiss government decided that since all soldiers carried a knife with them, it was not necessary to issue paramedics with an additional knife which included scissors. Since Victorinox was also about to launch the brand new Pioneer knife to the general public, we decided to abandon the model with scissors due to production costs and the lack of interest from the Swiss Army. In the years since the Pioneer’s launch, it became one of our most popular products and demand began to grow for an edition which included scissors. So some 60 years after the prototype was first produced, we finally launched the Pioneer X. The original prototype is pictured here alongside early prototypes of the 1961 Soldier’s Knife.
Wenger orders from Victorinox for the Swiss Army
It is common knowledge that the Swiss Army split their order of Soldier’s Knives equally between Victorinox and Wenger for almost 100 years. The Swiss Army never publicly declared a preference between the knives from the two brands, but they did however have a very specific preference: the can opener.
Carl Elsener III wanted to completely revolutionize the design of the Soldier’s Knife and in 1961, the Swiss Army accepted his design for an Alox model which was both smaller and lighter than the previous versions. As the other supplier of Swiss Army Soldier’s knives, Wenger also had to begin production of this model. They were however unable to use the same can opener, as ours had already been patented in 1951. Since the Swiss Army demanded that all knives were identical, regardless of supplier, Wenger were forced to order this part from us and incorporate it into their Soldier’s Knives from 1961 onwards.
But we’ve always considered Wenger as a friend, as well as a competitor. So rather than trying to turn the situation to our advantage, we made a gentleman’s agreement with them, and we never made any profit from these orders.
The Victorinox Cross & Shield
Thought that the Cross & Shield has always been part of our identity? Not so. The document shows that this emblem was first trademarked on July 23rd 1909 by Karl Elsener I, some 25 years after the foundation of the company. Before this date, the logo was used on our knives, but we also produced knives without the logo and these were sold at a reduced price, as it was considered that less craftsmanship was involved!
With the trademarking of the logo in 1909, Karl Elsener I cemented its role as part of our identity. The logo was intended to differentiate the Elsener knives from the competitors and copycats who sprang up in the wake of his early success, many of which came from Germany. For us, the Victorinox Cross & Shield is a very meaningful symbol: the cross represents strength and positivity, the shield represents protection. The Victorinox Cross & Shield is now trademarked in more than 120 countries.