Reading Time: 8 minutes


There are icons of design that crosses decades without really getting old They are timeless. Here is the story of probably one of the most well known iconic objects, translating the very best of design, innovation, functionality and quality: The Victorinox Spartan. LuxuryActivist asked one of the most passionate people about Victorinox, Trond Ole Mojlanen, to write the following success story.

June 12th 1897 – The birth of a legend

The year 1897, June 12 official registration for the elegant “Officer’s knife”. It is the start of the phenomenon. The Founder Karl Elsener was a master with knives and the development of this registration opened up a complete new era of pocket knives. Without any doubt the special spring system made it possible for this new development. The Spartan 91mm today with red iconic handle scales and Victorinox emblem is the descendant of the 1897 knife. With Victorinox we have a very special evolution for the 91mm Swiss Army Knives. The Founder made Officers and Sportsmen knives and by 1909 he had several models with the inlay cross and shield…The inlay cross and shield can already be seen in the 1903 Founders catalogue.

By 1902 they got toothpick, nickel silver tweezers and with or without Bail option. From 1909 all his knives should have the inlay cross and shield to distinguish them as a Swiss product and from copies. It was also part of the 25 year Silver Jubilee.

In 2012 Victorinox introduced a Spartan limited edition that at the time represented 115 years of iconic design. It is important to have in mind the different dates found in the manuals that follow Swiss Army Knives in the boxes. It is so that the Company releases dates and historic facts that can be used for the better understanding of this knife. Dates, evolution and milestones are very important for this understanding. This you can see used with knives, fragrances, watches, travelling products and more.


If anyone would ask what is the key milestone after 1897? The answer for this is simple and it is the invention and development of stainless steel that is a simple answer but very heavy for the historic view. Words cannot express how important this was and the pioneering feats done for this. Over the years I have come to love stainless steel more and more on pocket knives. This is because it is simply the absolute best choice based on the functionality and for the maintenance issues. Because it got stainless steel components it will only require some maintenance from time to time and it only need some oil on the friction parts. By 1920-1923 and because of pioneering work we get the Victorinox name and we get the stainless steel available. The steel became good enough in the coming years. The reason for the pioneering feats was to make stainless steel that could be hardened and this was absolutely not an easy task at the time.  It was done for the preparation to be able to become better and evolve. With Victorinox it is a continuation of the Company philosophy. Today Victorinox is a global Brand because of this driving force that continues today. By 1931 a milestone was achieved with the order to set up the electrical hardening plant in Ibach.



During the history from 1897 until today we have several design and evolution changes in the construction and handle materials used, still it continues to have the iconic design. Very close after the 1897 invention we see a new problem and this was copies made elsewhere. It was for several reasons that the Founder incorporated designs for the identification of his products to be Swiss. Today this problem with fakes is no less and represents a continued problem.  The Spartan continues to be a competitor on the world market and it is part of a Global Brand product range. It got all the values incorporated and it is unbeatable.

120 years later, The Victorinox Spartan is still amazing

It is an enormous fact that we are talking about the Spartan knife today 120 years after the creation! Not only can we follow such a history we can use it with complete functionality and quality for whatever task or challenge today. The tang stamp, emblem with iconic design represents the key factors for the identification of the SAK in your hand.

There is a constant quality development for the Spartan knife and the 91mm Swiss Army Knives that during its history can be found as a best seller at several time windows in the history. You cannot go wrong by having a Spartan in the pocket.  If we look upon the selection of tools on it we get 12 functions and only 59 grams in weight. There is strength with the combination of the tools that some forget. It got two knife blades with one smaller. Both blades are usually called pen blades by knife people and these can see a huge amount of different tasks. Because you have two blades you can increase the versatile abilities because the little blade can be used for even greater precision tasks and it can be used in combination with the larger blade when you are whittling. There are today many wood carvers that use these for such.  The little blade can be used to sharpen pencils and to erase words written by scratching it away.

The current Spartan is very competitive and it is the number one minimalist choice with Swiss Army Knives. It gives much value for the money. It is enough for most EDC tasks! The constant quality development and the functionality go hand in hand and one example is the can- opener that had in 1897 a different design.  It opened the can different and it could not be used like the one today for flat or Phillips head screws.  It is also so that the other functions from the original continued such changes and achieved and added more functions on them.  This is to continue the functionality and to be able to be the reliable companion where ever you are. Today it got 12 functions and therefor added several in the history. This is a good thing and at the same time it continues to have many similarities and iconic design from the 1897 design. This is very cool and I enjoy it.

Today there are not many limitations for designs, colors and artwork that can be used on the handle scales.


The thing with Swiss Army Knives is that they also have the tendency to fit much more than many know. I have seen the Spartan used by geologists, fishermen, wood carvers, in survival packs for professionals, used for gifts by various Companies, airport security, security services, by electricians and much more. 90% of most cutting tasks for EDC are precision cuts done by a sharp edge and do not require larger blades than you find on the 91mm category. The blades are slim and sharp and therefor they will be able to do precision chores.  It is a companion for life and it is also easy to sharpen and only require some maintenance.  It is very versatile as well. Victorinox follow a simple recipe and focus very much on the iconic design, quality and functionality on the 91mm products. This is very true.  It is said that the Company do not have any secrets for its success because they follow this simple recipe. For sure there are secrets to the quality and products without any doubt.

The Spartan knife is a heavy Icon with The Company and it is part of the main line 91 mm selections. When you look on the time line and development of the history with pictures shown then it is the Spartan you see. This knife got what is called the standard functions and these are used on the main line of knives with added scissors, wood saw and other. This is because the standard functions are very important for the iconic design, functionality and quality. If people get a Climber model or a Huntsman model then the Spartan functions is with and continues to represent the origin.

The Spartan is versatile and it got two knife blades like i already mentioned, it also got an awl that developed in the history to be able drill with. The combination awl and knife blades are very versatile. The corkscrew can be used for more than opening bottles. It can be used for opening knots as well. On the internet you can see people performing what is called tricks. This is people that find new possibilities for use. With imagination and to be able to improvise it is possible to use it for a great deal of challenges or tasks ahead.

During the 1980s the Spartan is mentioned to be a best seller across the world and sold from an incredible number of places. It carries the legacy!

Trond Ole Mojlanen

Information sourced by the author for All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only.