Wenger

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Wenger SA
Type Société anonyme
Predecessor(s) Paul Boéchat & Cie
Wenger & Co. S.A.
Founded 1893
Founder(s) Paul Boéchat
Headquarters Delémont, Canton of Jura, Switzerland
Products Swiss Army knives, cutlery, watches, travel gear
Employees 150
Parent Victorinox AG
Website wenger.ch
A Wenger Swiss Army knife

Wenger is one of two companies that have manufactured Swiss Army knives. Based in Delémont, Wenger was acquired by rival Victorinox in 2005.[1]

History[edit]

The history of Wenger S.A. is strongly linked to the history of the Swiss Army knife.

Company origins[edit]

Founded 1893 at Courtetelle in the Delémont valley in the Canton of Jura, the industrial cutlery house of Paul Boechat & Cie (the future Wenger) received a contract from the Swiss Army to produce knives as the second industrial cutlery manufacturer of Switzerland.[2]

In 1897 Theodore Wenger, a minister who had served in the USA, was returning home to Switzerland and was hired by the group of entrepreneurs that had bought Boechat & Cie two years earlier[2] (later renaming the company Wenger et Cie.).[3]

One of Wenger's first acts was to acquire a manufacturer of spoons and forks which he moved to a rented factory in Delemont. In 1900 a new 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) facility was built. Both the utensil operations and the Courtetelle cutlery production were incorporated into the new plant now called Fabrique Suisse de Coutellerie et Services.[2]

In 1908 the Swiss Army decided to split the contract, with half of the order going to Victorinox, in the German-speaking canton of Schwyz, and the other half to Wenger in the French-speaking part of the canton of Bern.[4]

In 1929, after Theo Wenger's death, Kaspar Oertli gained majority share in the company.

In 1988, Wenger started producing watches.[5]

Crisis and restart[edit]

After the 9/11 attacks all air traveling and related industries were facing a severe crisis. This was also the case for the Swiss Army knife manufacturers especially Wenger S.A. Changing airport security regulations and the impossibility to carry pocket knives as carry-on luggage diminished the sales of Swiss Army knives at duty-free shops. The crisis led to the acquisition of Wenger by its competitor Victorinox in 2005.[6] With the backing of Victorinox, Wenger was able to maintain its own production and branding of Swiss army knives and watches. Wenger knives are advertised as the "Genuine Swiss Army Knife" and Victorinox as the "Original Swiss Army Knife".

Recent developments[edit]

After the change in 2005 Wenger S.A. started to develop new products to distinguish itself from the competitors. One major change was the introduction of the Evolution line changing the ergonomics of the knife for the first time in history.

In the process of rebranding itself as a provider of multifunctional tools for outdoor adventures,[7] Wenger started to cooperate with individuals such as Ueli Steck and Mike Horn acting as their brand ambassadors providing each of them with a suited multi-functional tool adapted to their specific challenges.[8] Additionally Wenger cooperated with Alinghi providing the sailors with a suited multifunctional tool.[9] Most recently Wenger supports the Patagonia Expedition Race.[10]

Brand merging[edit]

On January 30, 2013, Wenger and Victorinox announced that the separate knife brands were going to be merged into one brand: Victorinox. The press release stated that Wenger's factory in Delemont would continue to produce knives and all employees at this site will retain their jobs. They further elaborated that an assortment of items from the Wenger line-up will remain in production under the Victorinox brand name. Wenger's U.S. headquarters will be merged with Victorinox's location in Monroe, Connecticut. Wenger's watch and licensing business will continue as a separate brand.[11]

Products[edit]

The two main product lines of Wenger S.A. are the Genuine Swiss Army Knife and Wenger Watch. Additionally Wenger S.A. uses the know how of knife manufacturing to craft kitchen cutlery available under the brand names of Swibo, Grand Maitre.[12]

Genuine Swiss Army Knife[edit]

Most of the traditional products produced by Wenger are Pocket Knives with a body size of about 3" to 5" and blades of about 2" to 4" accompanied with a varying set of additional functional features like can openers etc. in a red or black colored case.[13]

Special editions[edit]

The Giant

The Swiss Army knife is famous for integrating different tools into one knife. Wenger integrated all of these 87 tools performing 120 functions into one knife and called it The Giant. Integrating 87 functions the giant made it into the book Guinness World Records.[14]

Heritage

Based on the original plans of the Swiss Army knife of 1908 Wenger introduced the limited edition line called Heritage.[15]

TitaniumLine, Alinghi Sui 1, Mike Horn Knife & Patagonia Expedition Race

All three are multifunctional knives developed in cooperation with the individuals and organizations involved suited to their specific challenges. The Titanium Line is a product suited to the challenges a speed climber like Ueli Steck faces.[16] For the Swiss Americas Cup participant Alinghi Wenger developed an easy to use knife for sailors.[17] As the main sponsor of the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race, Wenger created a knife suited to the challenges the participants of the race have to face.[18] For the adventurer Mike Horn Wenger released a knife in 2009.[19]

Wenger Watch[edit]

Wenger Watches are made in Switzerland. The company's subdivision's head office is located in Biel Switzerland. Wenger watches are related to the basic ideas and concept of the Swiss Army Knife, having a multifunctional outdoor focus. Additionally Wenger produces several watches focusing only on elegance.[20]

Other products[edit]

Furthermore, Wenger also creates wallet type notepads. These are in the shape of a wallet and can function as a wallet, but may most appropriately be used as a miniature notepad because it has a small writing pad on the inside of the wallet (which is a twofold).

Wenger produced bayonets for the Swiss Stgw 90 assault rifle. The bayonet has an overall length of 310 mm and a muzzle ring diameter of 22 mm. The 177 mm long blade is single-edged and it has no fuller. The bayonets were manufactured exclusively for the Swiss Army by Wenger and Victorinox (before the two companies merged).

In North America, licensed products using the Wenger and SwissGear trademarks are owned independently from Victorinox SA, and are used to market camping equipment (particularly tents, backpacks and sleeping bags), luggage, backpacks and office/business needs.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]