Where Are Victorinox Knives Made? Swiss Army Knife History

While Victorinox Swiss army knives are among the most popular types of knives in the world today, it might surprise you to learn that they were born of humble beginnings, and it took nearly a century from their initial inception to gain popularity on a global stage. Given these knives’ rich history, we thought it would be fitting to take a closer look at and detail the Swiss army knife’s background.

Roots Dating Back to the Late 1800s

The Swiss army knife was born in 1884 in Ibach, Switzerland when Karl Elsener opened a knife cutter’s workshop. Seven years later, in 1991, he established the Association of Swiss Master Cutlers and delivered the first shipment of knives to soldiers in the Swiss army. That’s how these types of pocket-sized and versatile knives earned their nicknames as “Swiss army knives,” though this designation didn’t come until 1897 when Elsener’s device was patented.

The Victorinox Name

Now a registered trademark in more than 120 countries worldwide, the cross trademark and “Victorinox” brand name is an homage to Elsener’s mother, Victoria, as she supported his knife-making endeavor from the very beginning. So how did Elsener get from “Victoria” to “Victorinox?” It combines his mother’s name with the newly invented stainless steel material Inox that he began producing his knives with. Material innovations combined with advanced manufacturing methods led to a surge in Swiss army knife production in the mid-1900s.

U.S. Popularity During World War II

Though enhanced production meant more knives, Swiss army blades were still very confined to Switzerland and parts of Europe in the mid-1900s. This changed when American soldiers overseas fighting in World War II purchased and brought back many souvenirs. Soldiers would purchase Swiss army knives in large quantities for themselves and their loved ones.

Worldwide Boom

It didn’t take long for Swiss army knives to transition from a regional to a worldwide phenomenon. In 1977, the original Swiss army knife earned an exhibit spot at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As demand increased, the company, then-known as Victorinox AG, doubled its manufacturing and office space to keep up with orders and added new product lines. In the early 1990s, it opened its first subsidiary in Japan. Distributing partners in the United States and around the world followed. In 2008, a Victorinox flagship store opened in London, England, and a Swiss Knife Valley Visitor Center opened in Brunnen, Switzerland.

Today, Swiss army knives are perhaps the most well-known blades in the world. The business is still operated by the Elsener family, specifically Carl Elsener IV, who took over in 2007 and was mostly responsible for building the international brand. Swiss army knives are nowhere close to being artifacts, either. In 2018, the company opened a new distribution center in Seewen, Switzerland, but all blades are still manufactured at the Victorinox factory in Ibach, Switzerland. It’s estimated that the facility produces some 45,000 knives every day, shipping them around the world. More than 400 models are now available for purchase, and you can find many of them here at All Things Swiss.

To learn more about the history of the Swiss army knife, contact All Things Swiss today.