Victorinox gives Swiss army knife a new Asian edge

Mon Jun 6, 2011 11:56am EDT
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By Nathalie Olof-Ors

Zurich (Reuters) - A Swiss army knife is still a must-have souvenir for any tourist returning from the Alps, but soon it will soon come with an new Asian twist.

In July, manufacturer Victorinox, will launch a new multipurpose model reinterpreted by Japanese designer Kazuma Yamaguchi, who has produced a square version of the traditionally slightly oval-shaped red knife.

Dubbed Tomo, the Japanese word for 'friends', this new model on offer in bright colors from Capri blue to Lemon yellow, will target fashion-conscious customers and will be sold in places like the Museum of Modern Arts in New York.

This is not the first transformation for the Swiss army knife, which comes in 350 versions costing between 9 and 422 Swiss francs.

"Innovation has always been a key feature of the Swiss army knife," said CEO Carl Elsener Jr. in an interview with Reuters at the company's headquarters in Ibach, a small rural town a stone's throw from the shores of Lake Lucerne.

Two years ago, Victorinox launched a new model equipped with a USB flash drive, which allows owners to encrypt data with a password and a biometric fingerprint sensor with temperature control.

This 21st century model even allows you to automatically destroy data in case of security breaches -- a feature that would appeal to a secret agent or a 2.0 version of MacGyver, the TV character who never parted with his pocket companion in the action series broadcast on ABC between 1985 and 1992.

Victorinox regularly put its reliability to the test by inviting hackers to its flagship stores, offering a large cash reward to anyone who could break its security system.   Continued...