Tuesday, 30 September 2014
This is my "everyday carry" Swiss Army knife - it has the Victorinox logo, but in most respects it's a Wenger knife.
I love lost causes, and this is my latest.
I've been using Swiss Army knives for over 30 years - I've used both Victorinox and Wenger knives, but I have a soft spot for Wenger - they always seemed like they were willing to change and innovate, whereas Victorinox seemed staid and monolithic. Still, most of the time I bought Victorinox knives, probably because their marketing worked on me.
I hadn't been keeping up with developments in the world of the Swiss Army knife (there's no real need to because these knives are made tough and don't need replacing very often), so it was only recently that I found out that Swiss Army knife manufacturer Wenger is now effectively extinct. After Victorinox bought the smaller company in 2005, they promised that Wenger would be kept intact ("that's great," I naively thought - "maybe co-operation will improve both brands"), but as of January 2013 that is no longer the case. All that's left of the knife making part of Wenger are some of their knives, which have been rebranded and are now being sold under the Victorinox name. In my view, a classic case of a better company being overwhelmed by a more regressive but bigger company's ability to fund more aggressive marketing.
So the knife in the image may have a Victorinox logo, but to me, that's always going to be a Wenger knife: the ergonomic handle, the main blade, the cap lifter, the corkscrew, the scissors, the saw and the nail file were all designed by Wenger. Victorinox have added their own can opener (which is definitely not an improvement - Wenger's was less intuitive but it opened cans faster). On the bright side, Victorinox also added their own awl, toothpick and tweezers, all of which are admittedly improvements, and which is why I use this knife rather than hunting around on eBay for a "real" Wenger.
I guess I should be happy - after all, the result has kinda given us the best of both worlds (albeit in a two steps forward one step back kind of way), but I just wish we could have gotten here without hardworking people having to lose their jobs, and without a beloved brand name going the way of the Dodo.