Victorinox and Wenger Swiss Army Knives – Brief History
There were two official Swiss Army Knife brands in Switzerland. One is better-known, which is Victorinox, and one is lesser-known, which is Wenger. Why are there two brands? Victorinox is in fact the original maker of Swiss Army Knife. They invented the knife, and provided it to the Swiss Army. Wenger, on the other hand, shared the Swiss Army knife market not long after. Victorinox comes from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Wenger comes from the French-speaking part. Victorinox provided the German-speaking portion of military their knives, and Wenger provided the French-speaking portion.
Therefore Victorinox is officially branded as the “Original Swiss Army Knife”, and Wenger the “Genuine Swiss Army Knife”. Victorinox logo is with a shield, while Wenger is with a rounded square:
Ever since the terrorist attack on September 11, Swiss Army Knives have stopped selling in the airport. With more than half their revenue made from selling knives in the airport, it was a nightmare for both companies. Victorinox handled the crisis better than Wenger by having workers go off work and even helping their employees find temporary jobs nearby while the production line was shut down. Victorinox immediately began research, development, and investment on new products such as luggage, perfume, watch, etc. and used their famous brand for the new fashion products. The strategy worked, and Victorinox survived the disaster.
Things did not go so well with Wenger. Wenger failed to survive the situation, and declared bankruptcy. Victorinox feared that Chinese firms would purchase Wenger and ruin the Swiss Army image because of low-quality products usually found in China, so Victorinox purchased Wenger in 2005. For 9 years Victorinox had kept Wenger as a separate company, allowing them to develop on their own.
Due to serious competition with other multitool companies, Vitorinox re-evaluated the market and decided to end the Wenger knife brand, keeping only their other products such as lighter, shoes, outdoor gear, luggage, backpack, watch etc. In January 1, 2014, Wenger officially ended its knife brand. However, the good news was that Wenger’s line of knives was still available, just under a different brand. Victorinox started a new line of Swiss Army Knife products called the “Delemont Collection”, which retained the original and unique Wenger designs. Wenger’s knife factory still operated, with every original employee working for the production line, but the factory now produced knives for Victorinox, not Wenger. Making all knife products bear the Victorinox logo was a strategy that was expected to help the Swiss Army brand grow stronger and gain more market.
There were a few differences between Victorinox Delemont Collection and the original Wenger knives. The main differences:
- Toothpick by Wenger (softer, more flexible) was stored inside the handle and remained invisible on the outside. You had to get your nails in the gap between the separators to pull it out. Victorinox Delemont Collection used Victorinox toothpick (harder, less flexible) and could be accessed from the outside.
- Again, Wenger tweezers had to be accessed by pulling it out with your fingernail between the separators on the inside of the handle. Victorinox Delemont Collection tweezers could be accessed from the outside.
- Can opener
- Wenger used hook-shaped blade for its can opener. The can opener on Wenger was so sharp it could cut rope and almost acted as a secondary blade. Victorinox Delemont Collection uses thd typical Victorinox can opener that had a fan-like shape curve to its blade that is not as sharp, and a 3-mm flat / Philips screwdriver at the tip.
- Reamer / awl
- Wenger’s reamer / awl was not sharpened on the edge. It was very pointy, like a thick pin. Victorinox Delemont Collection changed the design to the same as other Victorinox reamers / awls. It had a sharpened edge.
The above four were the greatest differences between the original Wenger version and Victorinox Delemont Collection. The large knife series of Wenger, the New Ranger, was also retained under the Delemont Collection. The changes are that the New Ranger now came with Victorinox toothpick and tweezers, Victorinox can opener + flat / Philips screwdriver, and Victorinox-style reamer / awl. The rest was about the same as the original Wenger design.
Victorinox explained that there had also been changes to the engineering of the Delemont knives from the original Wenger version. Most people anticipated that Victorinox had improved the quality of Delemont knives. Wenger did not have the best reputation of consistent quality that Victorinox had enjoyed, until after Victorinox acquired Wenger. However, Victorinox seemed to have better quality control even after Wenger had been acquired. Wenger was definitely of top quality, and frankly, most multitools did not come close to their quality. It’s just that Victorinox was slightly better in this arena.
I will write more about the differences between Victorinox and Wenger Swiss Army knives in the future.Written on May 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm