|Wenger is known as the maker of "The Genuine Swiss Army Knife", and has over one-hundred years of history. The company is now owned by Victorinox A.G. of Switzerland, but still operates as an independent company with its own brands and trademarks. Wenger holds a Guinness World Record for the The Most Multifunctional Penkife, consisting of 87 tools and 141 functions. It was awarded in 2007 for their model known as the Giant.|
Table of contents
In 1893 Paul Boechat create the cutlery factory that would take on the Wenger name in 1907. The Swiss Army was supplied pocket knives designed for rifle maintenance, opening ration tins, and general cutting. Wenger secured a government contract to supply 1/2 the required quantity of knives (Victorinox supplying the other half).
The following official Wenger documents, taken from their publication A Fevour_Over_Knives, provide a more complete Company History:
Based on initial research by NorthMan (MTO & SOSAK) from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, patent applications, collected knives, internet information and forums, James Christians sakcollector website, Google books & newspapers, Wenger SA. Additional information and details added from the publication "Fevour Over Knives, A" Published by Wenger S.A. in 1993, and personal patent information collected.
1893 Founding Cutlery Works, Paul Boéchat & Cie.
1895 A group from Delsberg Germany takes over, name company Fabrique suisse de Coutellerie SA.
1896 New production plant is built at Courtetelle.
1898 Theo Wenger arrives to 'fix' the company, and is put in charge, saving the factory at Courtetelle (later 1897 or early 1898, the exact date is unrecorded).
1898 Purchase of Basel company "A. Mertens, Schweizer Britanniametallwarenfabrik" and in October 1998 moved its 28 employees from Rhineland to a rented production facility in Delemont for tableware spoons and forks.
1899 In July, all the approvals and financing were obtained and the land was acquired to build a large new factory in Delemont. Company officials started research on the project visiting various large European cutlery centers.
1900 Cutlery Works established in Delemont. On July 16 the building permit was granted, and the installation of the new facilities and the transfer of the workshops from Courtetelle was completed before the end of the year.
- 1900-1940 old tang/shank stamp is 3 face logo, another very old stamp may be from the very early years a squirrel with Courtelle Suisse.
1902 The new Cutlery Works 6800 sq.m. factory is declared a success on technical and sanitary grounds by Swiss industrial publication. The company had become "Fabrique suisse de coutellerie et services" (Schweizer Besteck-Fabrik) S.A. The company now employed over 150 people.
1903 Knife Handle Attachment Patent Granted - Dec 29, 1903 to Theodor Wenger (table knife). US Patent 748,547 filed September 26, 1902.
1905 Hans Mury is appointed Managing Director, as Theodore wishes be concentrate on sales and be stationed in Basel. It was apparently tough negotiating, but he obtained the rights to the total output of the Cutlery Works.
1907 Wenger Co Limited Partnership Established, March 13th. The Sales and manufacturing division didn't work out so well, and Wenger realized he was totally dependent on the factory and it was in trouble. Wenger buys the company to save it for the second time. A Limited Partnership is formed; Theodor Wenger, Fritz Gtgax, and Alfred Meyer.
1908 The Swiss Soldier Knife is manufactured.
1909 Kaspar Oertli becomes representative.
1917 Workshop is opened in Movelier employing 21 people.
1922 Wenger Co S.A. is established by Theodor Wenger, Kaspar Oertli, and George Tarnutzer, taking over the assets and liabilities of the Limited Partnership.
1925 Due to illness Theodore Wenger releases control of the company, but remains Chairman of the Board.
1928 Founder Theodore Wenger passes June 27th. The Wenger family sells its stake in the company.
1929 Kaspar aquires main interest in Wenger & Co SA from Wenger family.
1935 Movelier workshop is closed and moved to Delemont for economic reasons.
1937 The first date since the recession the company makes positive numbers.
1947 Max Oertli takes over after his Fathers death.
1940s Company logo featuring the crossbow established.
1950 A patent application seems to contain Wengerinox in crossbow symbol.
1951 Grilon scales used on Soldier Knife.
1955 Wenger reinvents the butcher knife for the commercial market with the SWIBO brand, featuring unique blade designs of French influence, highly polished stainless steel blades, and yellow high brightness synthetic molded handles. The handles were made from Grilon, and set new hygienic and safety standards. These knives became very popular and set many of the hygienic and safety standards that are now law in North America.
1960 USA U2 plane crashed in the former Soviet Union - the pilot Francis Gary Powers had a Wenger pocketknife in his gear.
1962 Can opener application, patented 1964.
1963 Wenger's first Alox handled Soldier Knife manufactured.
1967 Wenger Brand enters the American market.
1970s Wenger's logo becomes the current Cross in the rounded corner square.
- Outdoor wave in Japan, helps growth.
1971 Earliest patent application on the old construction on the VIP type, so the 1976 date on the VIP model may be correct.
* patent application without drawings, describes nailfile and its production, mentioned .2 - .4 % carbon and 13 – 14 % Crome, RC 53-57
1973 Patent application on scissors with integrated spring and it actually looks to have serrations, however we know early models is found without serrations, patented on 1975 so the mentioned 1976 may be correct.
1973 Backpacker Magazine published, a wave with Backpacking in the USA, around 1976 Precise make what seems like a mobilizing in the US marked, and further in 1977 and 79 as well, many new knives and functions is launched, make note on this since a lot happened here. In the 1980s and especially after 1986 another mobilizing this from Wenger factory.
1975 In an owners guide probably 1975 liners is: Swiss Electroplated aluminium,.Do not want to enter differences in Anodizing, this is for others, again also here Swedish Stainless steel is mentioned!
1976 Handle scales info Tenite Butyrate bonded under 2000 pounds pressure.
* Earliest picture and advertising for Monarch model, older can-opener and flat screwdriver with cap opener on opposite side
1977 Around this date flat screwdriver with cap opener may have changed sides, again this is not certain and may be just on some models.
* If advertising is correct placed it shows the Universal Wrench, here is mentioned new functions as well,
* also to new series Personalized line and Sportsman Presentation, symbols or Characters means one can identify their knife with their interests.
1977 Introduction of the Universal Wrench (opposite inline-Phillips)).
1979 Introduces the Packlock system and worlds first SAK with a locking blade.
1980 Precise mention new model with Packlock and now 6 models available with this feature.
1981 The Viceroy (65mm) model and interlock system for locking the main blade is mentioned in media advertising, the actual model/locking system may be slightly older.
1982 Earliest Patent application located on flat screwdriver with cap opener and the push locking system, inventor Theubet Michel, so 1984 may be correct.
1983 Precise (Boys life magazine) mention Wenger is only Official AK Scout B.S.A supplier,. Also here Locking safety blade mentioned
1985 article Anchorage on Daily News January 3rd 1985 show orienting tool, ruler compass function.
1986 Significant factory fire, and factory modernized after fire.
* In Popular Mechanics mentions liners electroplated aluminum again, aluminum for light weight.
* Pliers with integrated springs are introduced (Info From Wenger).
1987 If date is true it says Wenger is now running a super modern factory, have in mind Victorinox at this time as well. In Boston Globe article 12th of April it is mentioned that the Wenger factory is in the heart of Swiss Watch industry.
1988 Starts producing Watches.
* Boston Globe article says 10% of Wenger`s market is in the USA.
1989 Start of Swiss army Watches in America is a huge success.
* Article in Daily News 18th December tells about new knives called pastel, this maybe 65mm Esquire Pastel series
1990 Ranger models 120mm, a clip point blade used because it was apparently favored in the American market. These models are popular in Russia, and other Eastern European countries.
1990/91 Wenger looking to increase market presence in the United States grants sales and marketing license for a range of Swiss manufactured pocket knives to major USA manufacturer Buck Knives. Buck markets initially 10 Wenger knives under its new SwissBuck brand, and would later increase the number to around 15. This licensing agreement lasted until 1998.
1993 The Wenger company is 100 years old.
2005 Wenger is purchased by its Swiss competitor Victorinox A.G., but the Wenger brand continues.
2010 Re Focusing; "Wenger, Maker of the Genuine Swiss Army Knife, has re-committed itself to its roots as an active outdoor brand. Reaching back through its storied history of providing multi-functional tools for outdoor adventure, Wenger recently returned back to its original and natural brand position."
2013 The end of the Wenger branded knives production was declared on 30th January 2013. But in fact the Wenger branded knives were produced at least until April 2014.
2017 Victorinox releases a 65mm Swiss Army Knife model named “Wenger” based on the Wenger Executive 81 model. This knife has the Wenger logo and the Wenger brand name in the scale of the knife and is the only Swiss Army Knife with the Wenger logo and brand name in the Victorinox product range.
Today Wenger focuses on producing watches and travel gear. Victorinox AG remains the parent company of Wenger.
- Wenger Switzerland: http://www.wenger.ch/
- Wenger North America: http://www.wengerna.com/