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The History of Victorinox's Swiss Army Knife Tools

Updated on April 8, 2014
The top of the line XAVT. Almost every tool in one knife.
The top of the line XAVT. Almost every tool in one knife. | Source

All you need to know about the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Before you find out about your favourite Victorinox tool, here are a few facts about the company that makes them and the knife that holds them.

  • Victorinox was founded in 1884 by Karl and Nicholas Elsener
  • The name Victorinox was chosen to honour the brothers mother Victoria who passed away in 1909.
  • The coloured sides of a Swiss Army knife are called scales.

Swiss Army Knife Tools 1891 - 1899

The Can Opener - One of the oldest tools in the Swiss Army knife. Dating back to 1817 and first used in the original Swiss Army knife in 1891. The same design remained in use until around 1951 when it was changed to include the now mandatory small flat head screwdriver.

One Mans Opinion of the most Useless SA Tools

The Swiss Army Classic

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Black, 58mm
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Black, 58mm

The perfect knife for everyday use. Comes complete with the small blade, a nail file with the screwdriver tip, scissors, toothpick, and tweezers.


Swiss Army Knife Tools 1900 - 1949

The Keyring - What is a Swiss Army knife without a keyring to hang stuff from? It was added to the original knife in 1902 as a shackle and it wasn't until 1968 that it was changed to the type of keyring we are familiar with today.

Toothpick - First available in 1902, Victorinox added the toothpick to its range in 1942. Originally carved from ivory it is still the tool I usually lose first. each time, every time!

Scissors - For one of the coolest tools in the Swiss Army range, it is a surprise to me to find out that the compact scissors date back to 1902. In 1991 the pivot screw was replaced by a small fixed rivet.

Favourite Tools

What is your Favourite Swiss Army Tool?

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Th Wenger Giant - Every Tool in One Knife

Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant
Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife Giant

Always wanted to own every Swiss Army tool in a single knife? Then the Giant is exactly what you have been looking for. A must for the enthusiast.


Swiss Army Knife Tools 1950 - 1999

The Phillips Head Screwdriver - Even though the Phillips head screw was patented by Henry F. Phillips in 1934, a tool that would actually tighten/loosen the screw wasn't added until 1973. The design of the screwdriver has basically remained the same with the only small change occurring in 2002 when the tool was marginally shortened.

Magnifying Glass - First introduced in 1973 with an 8x magnification. This was changed in 2004 to a 5x magnification and it stayed that way until 2012 when it was increased to 6x. Each time the magnifying glass was encased in a plastic frame, which had a tendency to break if you dropped the knife with the magnifier extended. However the 2012 version has a glass lens replacing the plastic one from '73 and '04.

Fine Flathead Screwdriver - Surprisingly the fine flathead screwdriver was added in 1977, after the Phillips Head.

Pliers - 1985 heralded the introduction of a set of pliers to the Victorinox range. Since its introduction the size of the jaws were increased from 2.5mm to 3mm in 1987 and in 1996 a set of wire crimpers were added.

Straight Pin - An extremely unimaginative tool that was introduced in 1991. Can be handy when removing splinters or resetting electronic devices.

Hook - 1991 seems to have been a drab year in the Victorinox factory. After the less than fan-fared introduction of the straight pin, the hook was released on a puzzled public. In over 20 years the only uses found for it have been as a parcel/plastic bag carrier and as a knot loosener.

The Pharmaceutical Spatula - First added in 1992, the spatula can be used to mix both pharmaceutical powders and make up as well as transferring pills between containers.

Bits Driver - As the millennium was fast approaching, Victorinox introduced the bit driver, complete with an array of different attachments including Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, Hex drivers as well as Torx and Pozidrives. Now you could drive like it was 1999 (which is was).

Swiss Army Climber Model

Victorinox Original Swiss Army Climber Pocket Knife (Red)
Victorinox Original Swiss Army Climber Pocket Knife (Red)

A great mid range knife that is perfect for everyday use. Tools include large and small blades, a corkscrew, a cap lifter with screwdriver, wire stripper, reamer, key ring, tweezers, toothpick, scissors, and a multi-purpose hook.


So Good you can use your SA Knife to cut down a Tree!

Swiss Army Knife Tools 2000 - Onwards

Electronics - From the year 2000 onward and just when you thought that nothing more could be added to the Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox added an array of electrical devices to its range of knives. Viewable on one compact screen are a digital clock, altimeter, barometer and thermometer.

LED Light - On the same electronics theme, an LED light was added to the range in 2002.

Laserflame Butane Lighter - For a very short time from 2002 to 2005 a lighter was added to the range. Not available in the USA as it lacked child safety features.

Laser Pointer - Continuing the evolution of the Swiss Knife, Victorinox introduced the world smallest laser pointer in 2007.

The Swiss Army Knife. What's your favourite?

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