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Behind The Brand: The Story Of Victorinox Swiss Army

The following article has been sponsored by Victorinox

In the startup world, every hopeful entrepreneur boasts of creating a ‘Netflix for X’ or an ‘Uber for Y.’ When it comes to tools, inventors dream of designing the Swiss Army Knife of this or that. Victorinox isn’t just a brand – it’s a benchmark.

Swiss Army is synonymous with versatile and finely crafted instruments. See the iconic cross and shield emblem and you know what you’re in for: an exceptional piece of equipment, expertly made, eminently useful, designed to last a lifetime.

Over the last 130 years, Victorinox Swiss Army has expanded beyond its military origins into the diverse worlds of horology, apparel, fragrance, cutlery and travel gear. Victorinox has conqured Everest, the Arctic and outer space. You can even find Victorinox in the Permanent Design Collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Today we travel through time to see how Victorinox Swiss Army got its start, how it evolved, and where the brand is headed as it enters its next decade.

From Officer’s Knife To Icon

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The year is 1884. Switzerland is buzzing. Industrialisation is in full swing. In the town of Ibach, Karl Elsener and his mother Victoria open a cutlery workshop. He begins developing a new kind of knife – one that offers as many functions as possible in a compact, easy to carry package.

By 1891, the knife is ready and Elsener delivers his innovation to the Swiss army for the first time. He patents it a few years later, legally protecting the names ‘Officer’s Knife’ and ‘Sport Knife.’

Following the death of his mother in 1909, Karl introduces the brand name ‘Victoria’ in her honour. He registers the famous cross and shield emblem as a trademark in the same year. It takes another decade for the company to evolve into its current form. Karl coins the name ‘Victorinox’ in 1921 by combining his mother’s name with “inox,” the French term for stainless steel, which the company now uses in its products.

In the wake of WWII, the freshly-named ‘Original Swiss Army Knife’ continues its successful expansion around the world. The small red knives from Ibach become an international sensation during the first half of the 20th century and launch Victorinox to new heights. With the staggering success of the Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox begins to venture into new territories.

Timely Developments

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1989 saw Victorinox make its first foray into the watchmaking world. Swiss Army Watches had a lot to live up to. They needed to maintain the high standards of innovation, quality, functionality and design set by their celebrated predecessor.

Swiss Army Watches launched with inexpensive models built to withstand the rigors of active use. The original timepieces featured nylon straps, composite cases and highly legible dials. They were tough and water resistant. Frills were few (ok, non-existant), but early Victorinox watches have stood the test of time and are still available in the ‘Originals’ collection.

The brand has since branched into more diverse styles, including chronographs, dive watches and a handful of limited edition releases. Victorinox even produced a collection of ladies’ dress watches with diamond dials, proving the company is just as versatile as its legendary knives.

Throughout all its releases, Victorinox has remained true to its brand values. The watches are high quality, durable, practical and affordable. Technical advancement is prioritised, and innovation is at the heart of each new model introduced. It’s Swiss-made quality without the Swiss-made price tag.

Modern Victorinox

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Victorinox is proudly celebrating 130 years in the game in the most appropriate way possible: anniversary editions of one of its timeless watches.

The I.N.O.X., a superlative all-terrain timepiece that has become Victorinox’s core collection, is getting the 2015 treatment in two ways. First, a red model has joined the line-up of blue, black and green – because it’s about time I.N.O.X. took on the trademark Swiss Army colour.

The ultra-resistant watch withstood 130 resistance tests before launch. As a result, the I.N.O.X. can survive a 10m drop onto concrete, temperatures from -57° to +71° Celsius, attack from all manner of corrosive products, a one-minute exposure to a 1,200° Celsius flame, and being driven over by a 64-ton tank. Now that’s tough.

In addition to the new colourway, the I.N.O.X. is getting a brand new bracelet. A stainless steel option has finally joined the family after 2 years of research and development. Like the stainless steel case that came before it, the bracelet can hold its own in the same 130 tests. It’s a handsome, high-peforming strap for the man who needs a watch as strong as he is.

The I.N.O.X. anniversary editions proudly join the Victorinox dynasty as embodiments of the values of the original Swiss Army Knife: authenticity, strength, quality, Swiss savoir-faire and Swiss design. Here’s to the next 130 years.

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