Swiss Army Knife

Like no other object it is a symbol of perfection in travel accessories, multi-functionality and Swiss quality.

The famous tool was designed by Carl and Victoria Elsener in 1896 and they began supplying the army with their “officer’s knives” shortly thereafter. Since that time, its unmistakable design has barely changed.

Some time later, somebody designed a Disney Adventure Set, complete with a real Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. The perfect companion for dangerous expeditions. Just like Huey, Dewey and Louie, you were equipped with your magnifying glass, compass, chalk and helpful hints for whatever might come.

The unknown creator of this set was maybe someone who also knew the value of the quality behind the Swiss Army knife. Someone like MacGyver who fights for good throughout the world, armed only with a multi-functional penknife and a role of tape.

A man with a good knife has a certain aura. See for example the famous Crocodile Dundee quote: “That’s not a knife. THAT’S a knife!” In the 1980s, wannabe tough boys impressed girls and each other with the many functions of their Swiss Army knives.

Escapist Western wet dreams of sun-tanned youth in the wilderness who bring down innocent prey and then wipe the blade of their Swiss Army knife on their loincloth.

These knives aren’t going to lose their currency any time soon, not even if in the future everyone is vegetarian, camping is totally out and the knife only lies as a symbol on a shelf and not ready-to-use in a pocket.

That space is now reserved for a smartphone and its many apps.

Actually, there’s little difference between the two in terms of the tension between almost indispensable usefulness and delightful absurdity.

How often do you use the Swiss toothpick or the app to determine which jungle plants are edible?

If the knife were the smartphone’s Mrs Robinson and a child were born of this passionate trans-generational union, it would be that strange hybrid, the Swiss Card Lite.

That thing might “combine 13 functions in the format of a conventional credit card” and have won the Red Dot Award, but it’s reminiscent of an emasculated version of its famous father somehow turned into a letter opener.

With its tiny blade and a couple of screwdrivers you can unscrew your laptop with in an emergency. That’s evolution? Maybe my antipathy just stems from the fact that I would never even consider unscrewing my laptop and probably therefore also have no idea what you’re supposed to do with one stainless steel pin.

Maybe the iSwissTool is the better choice. “The Swiss Army knife for your iphone” A “14-function tool to help you out in almost any situation”! Developed by real Swiss programmers. Level, measuring tools and torch are the hands-on elements, the altitude and, yes, sound level gauge are probably just included to make it more Tom Sawyerish. All of these wonderful functions in one pocket and a lovely multi-functional knife in the other. MacGyver and Donald Duck’s nephews would be proud.