From Virgil Abloh to Davidoff, These are the 10 Greatest Swiss Army Knives Ever Made
The Off-White and Davidoff cigar knives take their place beside a tactical version that’s been banned in the UK.
One of the last design projects Virgil Abloh completed before his passing in 2021 was to create his own version of the iconic, official Swiss Army Knife. While not as high profile as his work for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Mercedes-Benz, the collaboration with Victorinox, which has been making the world-famous tool knives since 1891, fulfilled a longtime ambition held by the designer, who approached famed the Swiss firm with a proposal to radically customize their iconic creation.
This involved a revolutionary redesign of nearly every part of the knife, including altering the shapes of some of its best-known, patented blades, which the company had never done in the Swiss Army Knife’s storied 130-year history.
Sadly the otherworldly result, officially dubbed the Off-White c/o Victorinox Limited Edition, wasn’t released until late last year, after Abloh died, and he likely never got to see the final ready-for-sale product; while the release was overshadowed by his untimely demise.
With just 3,000 sequentially-numbered pieces made, and originally priced at $500, it has been a hot collector’s item, both for fans of Abloh’s and knife collectors worldwide. The sides or “scales” of the knife are made of Corian, the first time the surface, which is highly resistant to wear and tear, has ever been used in a knife design.
Abloh’s vision for the unusual item “revolves around Adam and Eve, androgyny, ‘The Beginning’ and—based on that—around constructing multi-dimensional safe zones for human survival with garments, tools, and spaces,” Victorinox notes.
Carl Elsener Jr., whose great-grandfather founded the knife-maker that would become Victorinox in 1884, and who has been CEO of the company since 2007, tells Maxim that, “In close collaboration with Virgil who was involved heavily in the concept and design, our brands worked hand in hand for two whole years to develop this unique design piece, with innovative elements never seen before on a Swiss Army Knife.”
Here are the rest of the top 10 Swiss Army Knives ever made, with commentary from Elsener Jr.:
2. DAVIDOFF CIGAR COLLECTION KNIFE
Davidoff created the scales of this knife out of polished wood with gold-plated accents and delivered it to Victorinox to have the custom blades fitted and assembled. In addition to being very useful to cigar smokers, it is one of the most collectible Swiss Army Knife collabs ever. “The most unique feature is the punch cutter, which extends from the knife like a blade,” and accommodates three different ring gauges of cigar, Elsener Jr. tells us.
3. EVOKE BSH ALOX
So badass it’s been banned in the UK, because of its locking blade, this tactical knife is fitted with a removable thumb stud that allows for one-handed opening, another Victorinox first. This is closest to the actual army-issue knives that the brand produces under contract for some military branches today. Elsener Jr. calls it, “as functionally seamless as it is aesthetically sharp.”
The Winemaster was “designed for the wine lover and bon viveur on the road, or at home with a renowned sommelier’s guidance,” Elsener Jr. says. “We are very proud that this product is a Red Dot design award winner and touted for its elegant aesthetics…. Fine wine deserves a tool that was created with perfection. Its viticultural credentials are world-class.” Fitted with a wooden handle, this large knife with an extra-long corkscrew comes in a custom saddle leather case.
5. DAMAST LIMITED EDITION
Made in 2010 and limited to just 2,010 pieces, this is also one of the most collectable Swiss Army Knives ever. With black aluminum scales, its main blade is made from Damascus steel in a first for the storied brand. “Damascus steel is produced in layers for incredible toughness and finished with a unique pattern called Baldur,” Elsener Jr. notes. “The layering of the steel cleverly combines corrosion resistance and superior strength making it not only visually appealing but built for use.”
6. ASTRONAUT (MASTER CRAFTSMAN)
This is the Swiss Army Knife chosen by NASA for their astronaut’s essential kits. The original design dates back to the 1950s, and NASA placed its first order in the 1970s after subjecting the knife to rigorous testing. Thus it was the first Swiss Army Knife in space. The knife pictured here “was first made in 1989 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing,” Elsener Jr. tells us. “In Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s book he tells an inspiring story of using his Swiss Army Knife to help dock the space shuttle Atlantis to the Russian Mir space station, and advises, ‘Never leave Earth without one.'”
7. SPARTAN ONYX BLACK
The first fully blacked-out traditional Swiss Army Knife ever made commercially available, the Spartan Onyx Black is the ultimate accessory for the style obsessed, or anyone who likes a stealthy vibe. “Thanks to a special polispectral process, the monochrome black finish not only looks timelessly classy, it’s extra durable, too,” Elsener Jr. says. “This sleek knife combines exceptional multifunctionality to tackle tasks with charisma and depth.”
8. SKIPPER CAMO
This is our favorite modern Swiss Army Knife, a tactical-influenced, multifunction, larger-scaled piece designed for seafaring types with yachting-specific tools like a shackle opener and a marlinspike. “We created the Skipper as a sailor’s everyday essential tool,” Elsener Jr. tells us. “We are continually inspired by the urban and outdoors and creating Swiss Army Knives that can be used across any lifestyle, specialized hobby or interest.”
9. COLLECTION VICTORIA SERIES I
The most expensive Swiss Army Knife ever made, this piece is covered in nearly 800 diamonds and cost over $100,000 when it was released in 2004. Only 40 pieces were ever made in collaboration with Swiss jewler Bonfort, and we had to travel to Victorinox’s top-secret archives and private knife collection in Switzerland to see one—locked in a safe, natch. It came in both a gold and platinum version (20 pieces each), presented in a solid aluminum suitcase complete with a diamond authenticity certificate. “We wanted to create a Swiss Army Knife for the 120th anniversary of Victorinox that communicated the importance and rarity of this milestone,” Elsener Jr. tells us.
10. SWISS CHAMP XAVT
The Swisschamp XAVT was introduced in 2006 and offered an incredible 80 functions in an oversized case, making it the largest series production Swiss Army Knife ever made. The knife consisted of 118 individual pieces and was assembled by hand by a skilled craftsman who performed more than 500 different operations to complete the assembly of each one. Currently available as a 33-blade Swiss Champ configuration or 73-blade XXL configuration, these MacGyver-worthy pieces “enable you to carry an entire toolbox in your pocket, making sure you’re always best prepared” no matter what life throws your way.