The 125 year history of Victorinox is characterized by perseverance and continunal growth. Typical Swiss characteristic set the tone for the corporation's development.
In 1884, the cutler and entrepreneur Karl Elsener opened a cutler’s business in Ibach-Schwyz, which is in Central Switzerland. In the course of its 125-year history, it developed into a global company.
Victorinox was founded at a time when Switzerland was still one of the poorer countries in Europe. Around 1880, many Swiss were unemployed and felt they had no option but to emigrate. In spite of these difficult economic conditions, the cutler Karl Elsener took the initiative and laid the foundations for a thriving company by opening his cutler’s business.
The company founder’s pioneering spirit, honesty and deep roots in the region have accompanied the history of the Victorinox company over the last 125 years and live on in its philosophy and products. Continuity also characterizes the organization: since its founding in 1884, Victorinox has remained a family company and it has stayed independent to this day. The Elsener family, who founded the company, owns 10 percent of the shares. The other 90 percent are owned by Victorinox’s foundations. This model will secure the company’s future and provide job security in the long term.
After working as a journeyman in Paris and in the southern German town of Tuttlingen, Karl Elsener opens his own cutler’s business in Ibach-Schwyz. The energy for running the grinding and polishing machines is supplied by a waterwheel driven by the Tobelbach stream.
The Swiss Army is supplied with soldiers' knives for the first time.
On June 12, the Swiss Officer's and Sports Knife is patented.
In order to distinguish it from copies, the company founder decides to use the cross and shield, the current Victorinox emblem, on all pocket knives from then on.
Following the death of his mother, the company founder chooses her first name Victoria as the name of the company.
Stainless steel is invented (also known as ‘inox’ for short). By combining inox with Victoria, the new brand Victorinox is created.
The company Brown Boveri sets up the world’s first all-electric hardening plant for Victorinox.
After the Second World War, the PX stores of the U.S. Army, Marines and Air Force sell large numbers of the ‘Swiss Officer’s Knife’ to their officers and soldiers. The Americans call it ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for short. This term is adopted in all English-speaking countries.
Some of the household and professional knives are manufactured in a new 5-story building.
The largest expansion to date sees an increase in manufacturing, office and storage space from 11,000 to 27,000 m². A staff of 730 generates sales in excess of 65 million Swiss francs.
The Swiss Army Watches are launched on the U.S. market with great success.
The first Victorinox sales branch is founded in Japan. In subsequent years, other subsidiaries are opened in Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Hong Kong/China, Vietnam and Chile.
In order to strengthen the Victorinox brand and to broaden its appeal, a Travel Gear line is developed. It is manufactured under license according to strict quality guidelines.
The founding of Victorinox Watch SA in Bonfol results in an expansion of the Timepieces department.
The Victorinox Foundation is established. Its stated objective is to provide job security in the long term and to ensure financial independence.
A leisure and business clothing collection is designed for the North American market. It wins over customers by offering the same high-quality standards as the Swiss Army Knife.
All five Victorinox product categories (pocket tools, household and professional knives, timepieces, travel gear and fashion) are for the first time presented together in a flagship store in Soho, New York.
Victorinox becomes the sole shareholder of Swiss Army Brands Inc. in the U.S. Its sales therefore exceed CHF 400m for the first time.
The takeover of Wenger SA, Delémont/JU, a knife manufacturer since 1893 and also a supplier to the Swiss Army, is intended to ensure the ongoing development of the Swiss Army Knife and its Swiss production site.
The watch factory is relocated to Porrentruy.
Relaunch of Victorinox Swiss Army Fragrances under the Victorinox emblem.
Victorinox founds the company Victorinox Swiss Army Fragrance AG at its head office. The former Wenger perfume line is repositioned and branded with the Victorinox emblem.
Victorinox opens its first European flagship store in New Bond Street, London.
Victorinox has a global workforce of over 1,700 and generates sales of about 500m Swiss francs.
Our effort to provide our fellow human beings all over the world with practical, functional, reasonably priced and top-quality products gives our lives deeper meaning and makes our work even more pleasurable and satisfying.
The Victorinox Quality System
Since 1884, Victorinox has given top priority to the quality and functionality of its products. We therefore have in place an efficient quality management system, which focuses on the manufacture of pocket tools as well as household and professional knives.
Incoming goods inspection
The incoming goods inspection ensures that all delivered manufacturing materials and OEM parts meet our quality standards.
Inspection of incoming material (steel)
Thanks to the laboratory tests, we are able to guarantee that only first-class steel is processed in the manufacturing plant. The various types of steel are all special alloys, which have the properties necessary for each respective application.
The departmental managers are responsible for ensuring that the quality of the products is guaranteed and that state-of-the-art technologies are used. All employees are jointly responsible for the quality control processes and for ensuring ongoing tangible improvements.
Final inspection (pocket tools)
Due to the high quality standards regarding functionality, design and finish, Victorinox endeavors to consolidate its leading position in the global market.
Victorinox Swiss Army Timepieces
Durability, comfort, high technical standards, ingenious functions and exceptional quality – these are the quintessentially Swiss values that have made Victorinox Swiss Army timepieces as much a worldwide icon of durability and reliability as the knives that inspired them.
Victorinox Swiss Army’s first timepiece was created by the brand’s American partner in 1989. The range has since expanded to more than 180 models divided into three lifestyle sectors: “Active”, for dynamic individuals looking for a stylish timepiece that meets their everyday needs; “Classic”, for the sporting, luxury-oriented watch-wearer; and “Professional,” for those seeking the ultimate in performance and functionality.
Created initially in 1999 in Bonfol (Swiss Jura) the company moved in 2006 in the ultra-modern and facility in Porrentruy. Staffed by skilled Swiss watchmakers, engineers and designers, the new facility exemplifies the finest in Swiss craftsmanship, especially when it comes to testing and quality control.
Swiss-made movements and components, fine leathers and technical materials, exclusive case finishes and refined dial designs — the same obsession for quality and detail that has driven the famous brand for more than 125 years is found in each timepiece carrying the iconic Victorinox Swiss Army Cross & Shield.
Each timepiece is thought through, in every detail, to make it useful and timeless. Functionality can be expressed from simple clear legibility to sophisticated functions.
Victorinox Swiss Army is always seeking to equip its timepieces with innovative and practical functions, finding creative ways of using existing components to enhance capabilities.
The Victorinox Swiss Army timepieces are not only designed and produced in the same quality philosophy as the legendary Pocket Tools, but they also meet the highest standards of the Swiss watchmaking industry. It is the overall quality of each timepiece (material, movement, finishing, etc) that allows Victorinox Swiss Army to provide a 3-year limited warranty.
Award ceremony of the Schweizerische Umweltstiftung (Swiss Environmental Foundation)
By means of the aforementioned award ceremony, this foundation for special achievements in environmental protection honors selfless commitment to the preservation of our habitats and also strives to set an example as motivation for future achievements.
Ecological considerations when manufacturing
As a result of several closed water cycles, we ensure:
- that all factory buildings and 120 apartments meet 92% of their heating requirements with waste heat
- complete non-reliance on crude oil for heating
- that 600t of grinding sludge is recycled each year
Ecological considerations when choosing materials
Through careful selection and processing, we ensure:
- environmentally friendly and fully recyclable end products
- an integrated disposal concept for liquid and solid materials
- total omission of heavy metals
Ecological considerations when choosing packaging materials
Due to the targeted and product-specific use of materials, we ensure:
- compliance with the “Grüner Punkt” regulations, member since 1993
- Recyclability of blister packaging material (PET)
- 90% of cardboard packaging is made from recycled paper
- use of chlorine-free bleached paper for instruction manuals and instruction leaflets