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A short history of Victorinox

The origins and original idea behind the Victorinox brand

Victorinox was founded by Karl Elsener in 1884, in the city of Ibach, in the Canton of Schwyz, in Switzerland. The brand is an independent family owned company.

The original commercial idea of Victorinox was to manufacture high quality pocket knives for the Swiss army. It wasn’t until 1989, that Victorinox launched its first watches.

What does the name “Victorinox” mean?

The name “Victorinox” was derived from Karl Elsener’s mother’s name – Victoria, and the French word for stainless steel – “inox”. So “Victoria” + “inox” became Victorinox.

Karl Elsener started his cutler’s business

In 1884, Karl Elsener opened his cutler’s business in the city of Ibach, in the Canton of Schwyz, in Switzerland. Previously, he was a journeyman in Paris and in the southern German town of Tuttlingen.

In 1891, Victorinox started its great tradition of supplying the Swiss Army with Victorinox soldier’s knives.

In 1897, the Swiss company patented the Swiss Officer’s Knife and the Sports Knife.

In 1909, the Swiss manufacturer established its company symbol or logo – the famous Swiss cross on a shield.

In 1909, Karl Elsener’s mother Victoria, died, and he decided to name his company after her. In 1909, the brand became known as Victoria.

In 1921, the brand got its famous name – Victorinox. In 1921, stainless steel or “inox” was invented. Karl Elsener combined “inox” with “Victoria” and thusly the name Victorinox was officially born.

Victorinox became known globally as “Victorinox Swiss Army”

In 1945, after World War 2, stores and shops of the US Army, Marines and Air Force, started to sell a considerable amount of the Swiss Officer’s Knives. The American soldiers called it “Swiss Army Knife”. From this year on, the whole English-speaking world adopted this term.

In 1980, Victorinox greatly expanded as a company: there was a dramatic increase in manufacturing, storage and office space.

Victorinox Swiss Army launched their very first watches

In 1989, the company launched for the first time Victorinox/Swiss Army watches in the USA. From this year and onwards, Victorinox has been associated not only with manufacturing high quality pocket knives, but also affordable high quality Swiss watches, of exceptional accuracy, reliability and shock resistance.

In 1992, the manufacturer opened a subsidiary in Japan and during the 1990s, Victorinox opened additional subsidiaries in Chile, Vietnam, Poland, Mexico, Brazil and Hong Kong.

In 1999, the brand launched its travel gear products.

In 2001, Victorinox launched a business and leisure clothing collection specifically for the American and Canadian market.

In 2005, Victorinox purchased its famous competitor called Wenger SA. Wenger too was a famous supplier to the Swiss Army. By purchasing their competitor, Victorinox strengthened its position as the supplier of the Swiss Army. Even today as we speak, some Victorinox watches carry the name “Wenger” on their dials.

In 2006, the Swiss company moved its manufacture to Porrentruy.

In 2007, the company officially established the Victorinox Swiss Army Fragrance AG which offers fragrances and perfumes.

In 2008, Victorinox opened its first European flagship store in London.


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