A lot of superlatives can be used to describe the Wenger Giant. After all, which knife company can even think of creating something like this?
But Wenger, known to be the more innovative between the two Swiss Army Knife manufacturers (the other being Victorinox), created this unique Swiss Knife Army that is still considered a marvel of modern Engineering.
The Wenger Giant is the largest Swiss Army Knife ever made. It is the only SAK that has the most tools, as it has each and every tool that Wenger has ever produced for their Swiss Army Knives. The Giant comprises of 87 tools that can perform 141 different functions. In the process, the Wenger Giant also became the most expensive Swiss Army Knife that money can buy.
Talking of superlatives, the Wenger Giant did feature in the Guinness World Records for being the largest multi-tool. Specifically, the Guinness Book Of World Records awarded it the distinction of the ‘most multifunctional penknife‘. The Giant was also a finalist for the Outstanding Technology of the Year Award for 2006, from the International Academy of Sciences.
This super-expensive SAK usually retails for about USD 1,400. However, the price keeps fluctuating depending on availability.
Tools and Specifications of the Wenger Giant
The Giant is a member of the 85mm Wenger Swiss Army Knives. Yes, this is not the largest series of SAKs that Wenger used to make. Their largest SAK series is the 130mm. But Wenger put in so many layers in the Giant that it’s thickness is greater than its length. In all, the Giant has 49 layers.
Following are the dimensions and weight of the Wenger Giant:
- Length: 85mm
- Width: 26mm
- Weight: over 3 lbs
- Thickness: 244mm
Yes, this knife is more than 9 inches thick. Funny how Guinness Book calls it a penknife! This monster certainly is not something you can call a pocket knife or a holstered knife.
Officially, the model is referred to as the Wenger 16999, but popularly (especially among collectors), the model is known as the Wenger Giant. It comes only in standard red-colored scales.
As Wenger has included each and every tool they have designed over a century-long history of making Swiss Army Knives, the Giant ended up having 14 blades, three types of pliers, countless screwdrivers, saws, wrenches and a lot of other tools.
There have been tool variations in the Wenger Giant over the years since its first inception.
This is because Wenger used to produce a newer model of the Giant each year to include all the newer implements that they have designed for their SAKs for that specific year. Ultimately, the Wenger ended up having 87 tools in all, which can perform 141 distinct functions.
As Wenger does not produce this model anymore, there is no official list of all the tools published anywhere. SAKWiki maintains a list of all the tools available in the Wenger Giant.
There might also be other unofficial lists available elsewhere. So for redundancy purposes, there is no point in putting the full list here. If you are interested, do visit the SAKWiki page for the Wenger Giant.
If you are interested in how and who thought of creating this unusual and extraordinary SAK, keep reading.
Why was the Wenger Giant made?
Have you ever regretted that your Swiss ArmyKnife doesn’t have a specific tool that you would love to have? But the other SAK which has that tool is missing another tool that your current SAK has. Well, a SAK is designed to be a functional multi-tool and hence there has to be a limit to the number of the tools a specific model can have.
But what if we can have all the tools in one single model? This is exactly the idea that Michel Champion at Wenger came up with.
Michel Champion is known as the father of the Wenger Giant. He used to work in the assembly department of Wenger’s Delemont factory in Switzerland. After he saw some big knives in the Guinness Book, he thought of creating one by assembling all the tools that Wenger makes in a single model. He presented the idea of creating this big SAK to Wenger management.
The idea was accepted by Wenger management. The aim was not to win a world record certificate but to ensure that Wenger was capable of achieving such a feat.
“We wanted to show what a Swiss Army knife could look like with all the tools in one product… to show this handy toolbox in its most extreme formPeter Hug (Wenger’s chief executive)
It took ten weeks of development for Wenger to come up with the first prototype of the Giant. Mr. Champion engineered the manufacturing process and created the first Wenger Giant, in the year 2000.
How was the Wenger Giant made?
The Wenger Giant is assembled by hand. The assembling and riveting process are manual, as Michel Champion did mention that it is impossible for a machine to assemble a knife like the Giant. Initially, he alone was responsible for putting the knife together as he knew exactly where each tool should go.
In the beginning he could assemble two units a day. As he gained experience, he was capable of assembling eight such units in a day. Champion said that only the assembling process took about one hour.
Mr. Champion later trained his colleague Mr. Leuenberger to assemble the Giant. The two of them were the only technicians in Wenger trained to assemble this monster SAK.
Wenger assembled about 25 units of the Giant in 2000. These were used for exhibitions in various trade shows.
How Practical is the Wenger Giant?
The Giant is an enormous SAK. Though impressive by design and craftsmanship, the model is so large that it is impractical for any type of actual use. It is not something you can carry with you anywhere, be in your pocket or in your bag.
When in your hand the Giant needs to be handled carefully as you can easily cut yourself. In the initial models, the knives were as sharp as they come. However, in the later models, they stopped sharpening the knives to prevent accidents as it was already a difficult task to hold the SAK in the hand when the tools were in the open position.
The uselessness of this SAK model for any practical tasks led to many sarcastic jokes. Especially, some of the reviews in Amazon on the Wenger Giant are hilarious. Do go through them if you want to have a good laugh 🙂
The Wenger Giant as a Collectors Item
It is said the Wenger made the Giant to celebrate its 100th anniversary, and showcase its engineering prowess. It was used for brand building and marketing to attract attention for dealers at trade shows.
The uniqueness of this model is what attracted people and made it popular among collectors. The exhibition of the Giant at trade shows made the collectors and enthusiasts aware of the existence of such a unique SAK.
Though the knife was first built in 2000, it was only around early 2007 that Wenger made it available for purchase. The knife usually comes with its own display case and certificate of authenticity.
As much as the users of the Swiss Army Knives may criticize the Giant, the collectors actually love it. Quantity wise, Wenger sold far more units than they expected.
The Wenger Giant is retired now, as are many other popular SAK models made by Wenger. This will further increase its value as a collectors’ item.
Victorinox SwissChamp XAVT
What the Giant is to Wenger, the SwissChamp XAVT is to Victorinox. Just like the Giant, the XAVT is also a collectors’ knife.
SwissChamp XAVT is the largest Swiss Army Knife that Victorinox ever produced. It has 15 layers and 71 tools that can perform 83 functions. All of these packed inside a standard 91mm body. Apart from the mechanical tools, the scales of the XAVT also houses electronic tools like digital watch and timer.
Unlike the Giant, the SwissChamp XAVT is not as unwieldy. However, though you can probably use it to get stuff done, still the size doesn’t make it any easier to hold it comfortably in one hand for any practical tasks.
The XAVT is still in production, hence it is not as hard to get hold of one. The price is also much lower compared to the Giant. Victorinox specifically advertises this model as a collectors’ item.
Large Swiss Army Knives that are Practical to Use
If you are not a collector, then you are probably fed up by now reading about these big unusable Swiss Army Knives. In case you are looking for a Swiss Army Knife with a lot of functions that you can actually carry with you and also work comfortably with, following are some SAK models that you can have a look at:
1. Victorinox Swiss Champ
The Swiss Champ is by far the most popular of all the big Swiss Army Knives that people actually use. In case you are curious about the name, yes, it is the little brother of the XAVT. It has 8 layers, has most of the 91mm tools, yet small and light enough to carry with you.
The Victorinox Swiss Champ is pretty easily available at Amazon and is also quite affordable.
2. Victorinox Evolution S54/Evoution Grip S54
The Evolution S54 (and the Evolution Grip S54) is the only model with a lot of layers and tools that has a Wenger design. This is one of the many models from Victorinox Delemont Collection, the series of SAKs that follow Wenger design ethos.
The availability of the Evolution S54 model is a bit scarce, and also the price is a lot higher than the SwissChamp. The Grip variant with rubbery scales looks and feels much better. I did see the Evolution Grip S54 in Amazon listing.
3. Victorinox Work Champ
If you want a Swiss Army Knife with a lot of tools, that is also comfortable to use, and above all, gets the job done faster and more efficiently than any other big SAK, look no further than the Victorinox Work Champ. It is the only SAK that is big, has a lot of tools, and is also efficient at the same time. It doesn’t have as many tools as the SwissChamp or the S54, but it probably has all the tools that you will actually need.
A Swiss Army Knife turns a toolbox full of hardware into something pocketable that can be carried along with you. However, the Wenger Giant is a different beast altogether. It was made to showcase Wenger’s capability of designing a SAK in its most extreme form.
Wenger made a name for itself by assembling the largest Swiss Army Knife of all time with the Giant. Though the Company no longer exists and the model is also retired now, the Wenger Giant will always be remembered as a unique piece of engineering and craftsmanship, especially by collectors and SAK enthusiasts.