Karl Elsener’s cutlery factory adopted the name Victoria in honor of his mother in 1909. That same year, Elsener first registered his company's classic cross and shield logo. The firm's name was updated to Victorinox in 1921, merging the former title with “inox,” an abbreviation of the French phrase “acier inoxydable,” meaning stainless steel. From its foundations in the manufacture of folding knives, the Victorinox business grew to incorporate watchmaking in 1989.
First available in the United States, Victorinox’s Swiss Army wristwatches were modeled after traditional military timepieces, with waterproof dials, nylon bands, and composite cases. These first watches were simple in design, but quickly developed a popular following for their reasonable price and practical aesthetic.
Victorinox acquired rival watchmaker Wenger in 2005, thus absorbing the only other manufacturer of Swiss military watches. Two years later, the company opened a new factory in Porrentruy, Switzerland, to bring watch production entirely in-house; previously Victorinox designs were assembled elsewhere by subcontractors.
Today the brand is still owned by the Elsener family and is steadily expanding its series of mechanical watch designs, pushing into the high-end market with wristwatches incorporating more technical capabilities and expensive materials. For example, Victorinox Swiss Army watches are now available with diamond detailing and chronograph functions, as well as special high-performance features for deep-sea diving.