I remember how excited I was the day I was given my first Swiss Army Knife. Being a young inquisitive lad, I immediately looked around the backyard for things to cut, screw and poke, just for the sake of demonstrating its usefulness to family and friends.
Those were the days when brands and logo’s barely existed – in fact my Volley sandshoes were probably my only branded clothing at the time. Back then, a label was something attached to the inside of a garment.
Those were also the days you could carry a folded knife in your pocket or a belt pouch onto an aircraft!
There was something cool about having a Swiss Army Knife in your keep and that instantly recognisable Swiss flag insignia said it all; although, in hindsight I’m not sure what that ‘all’ really was.
It’s not as though it conjured up action images of Swiss soldiers in the heat of battle; pulling out their trusty knife to cut through barbed wire defences. For that matter, we might have better related to an AIF Gallipoli Campaign branded knife – but that was not to be. History demonstrates that this little red knife has survived the times.
It is now a ‘brand’ that represents far more than that first humble multi-purpose knife.
The knife was always a surprise packet though – as it was far more than a knife, thanks to the joy of opening all those pull out tools. Over time, the image of the knife became synonymous with ‘multi-purpose’ and plenty of other category brand advertisers’ use it as a parody.
What’s nice to see in this ‘faked-up’ world is the existence of a genuine brand. Introduced by Karl Elsener back in 1884 in Switzerland, Elsener first opened a cutlery workshop and was then given the task of providing a knife for the Swiss Army. His idea to create a compact tool was seen as revolutionary.
Elsener’s Victorinox Company still exists today, under third-generation Elsener family ownership and management. It has of course expanded into many other quality travel-related items too.
That brings us to today’s latest release, the new Soldier’s knife.
Not surprising, the requirements of the Swiss Army have increased since the last Soldier’s knife was introduced in 1961. Now its shell is better camouflaged (for use in those pesky Swiss jungles) and easier to grip, while the cutting blade has a serrated edge and can be opened with one hand. The blade and screwdriver also lock in place when opened.
The multi-purpose tools of this new version include: Locking Blade, Phillips Screwdriver, Wood Saw, Small Screwdriver, Can Opener, Large Locking Screwdriver, Wire Stripper, Reamer, Key Ring and that all-important Bottle Opener!
The Victorinox people would have you believe their knife is a ‘companion for life’ and they’re not far off the mark.