Swiss Army Knives – Victorinox or Wenger
Thanks for visiting this page dedicated to the Swiss Army Knife. The reason CardioCritic has an interest in these great knives is simple. From 1999 to 2013 we sold the Wenger brand of Swiss Army knife from our e-commerce site – shop4wenger.co.uk. In late 2013 we took the painful decision to shut down the site as we simply couldn’t compete with the online discount warehouses. I try my best to keep this page up to date with the BEST VALUE Swiss Army Knives currently available. If you’ve ever wondered about the history of the Swiss Army knife, or which one came first, I hope this short history of Swiss Army Knives will help ….
A short History of The Swiss Army Knife
In 1890 the Swiss Army required a multi-bladed utility knife for their armed forces. At the time there was no company in Switzerland capable of producing high volume / high quality pocket knives. The contract to produce the first Swiss Army knives was awarded to a German company called Wester & Co. The Model 1890 was the first Swiss Army Knife produced by Wester & Co for the Swiss Army. Approximately 15,000 knives were produced. The image below is courtesy of Wikimedia by Cutrofiano and shows an ORIGINAL Wester & Co 1890 Swiss Army Knife. Unfortunately, the company no longer exists today.
Shop Now for Victorinox Swiss Army Knives
Victorinox in everything but name
Elsener Knives from 1891
In late 1891 a successful Swiss producer of surgical knives by the name of Karl Elsener was awarded the contract to supply the model 1890 knife to the Swiss Army. His brand was recognizable by the SHIELD and CROSS logo on the handles and would later be known (from 1921) as Victorinox. Mr Elsener managed to dominate the supply of the model 1890 Swiss Army knife to the Swiss Forces until 1893.
The Arrival of Wenger from 1893
In 1893 another Swiss manufacturer of fine cutler Paul Boéchat & Cie started producing a similar folding pocket knife. Paul Boéchat & Cie was acquired by Théodore Wenger, the General Manager, changing the name to Wenger
50% to Wenger – 50% to Victorinox
In 1908, for reasons of possible financial competitiveness or simply to be fair to two national businesses the Swiss government split the contract with Victorinox and Wenger. Each business was awarded HALF of the total orders placed.
Genuine or Original Swiss Army Knife?
Wenger used the strapline of “The GENUINE Swiss Army Knife”
Victorinox use the strapline of “The ORIGINAL Swiss Army Knife”
As Victorinox were commissioned in 1891 to supply the Swiss Army, two years before Wenger in 1893, Victorinox rightfully claim the title of ORIGINAL Swiss Army knife. However, as both companies were commissioned to supply utility knives to the Swiss Army from 1893 it’s only fair to say BOTH are REAL Swiss Army Knives. Personally, I’d be happy to own either.
The End of Wenger Swiss Army Knives
In 2005 Victorinox acquired Wenger but continued to produce knives under both brands names for nearly a decade. In 2013, after over 120 years of competitive knife production, Victorinox announced to cessation of the brand Wenger with regard to knives. The Wenger company still trades but focuses now on quality Swiss WATCHES and robust TRAVEL gear.
If you are interested in Wenger Watches please check prices with Amazon here
More Swiss Army Trivia facts
Victoria + Inox = Victorinox
Karl Elsener’s mother died in 1909. Her name was Victoria and Elsener changed the company name to “Victoria” in her memory. In 1921 the company started using stainless steel in the production of their Swiss Army Knives. Stainless steel is also known as “inox steel” short for the French term “acier inoxydable”. The company was then renamed to the name we know today – VICTORINOX
Elsener’s at the Helm
Quite remarkably there has been an Elsner at the helm of Victorinox since the business was founded by the original Karl Elsener. In 1950 the third Elsner, Carl Elsener III, took over the firm at just 27 years old. He remained in charge until he was 85 handing over control of the business to Carl Elsener IV in 2007.
Victorinox going forward
If you are thinking of buying a multi-purpose penknife / pocket knife PLEASE think Victorinox. With other 120 years of experience, design, development and production lead by the Elsener family for 5 generations. There really is no company more dedicated or with more experience than Victorinox when it comes to the production of these famous utility knives. Buy the original Swiss Army Knife, buy Victorinox. Please use this GLOBAL LINK to browse Swiss Army knives from Amazon in your region – thank you.