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The Father of Wenger's Giant

Wenger North America sent twenty questions to Michel Champion the Father of the Giant Swiss Army Knife in hopes of learning more about this marvel of modern engineering.  It was a finalist for The International Academy of Sciences Technology of the Year for 2006 and the Guinness Book of World Records just recently awarded it Most Functional Penknife.


Working out of Wenger Switzerland’s factory in Delemont, Mr. Champion is one of only two technicians who is trained to assemble the 87-tool beast and is credited with presenting the idea for creating it to Wenger management. Despite the Giant’s incredible popularity around the world, Mr. Champion is a humble man and this is his first interview for North America.


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WNA: How long have you worked at Wenger?

MC: Since 1981


WNA: What kind of work did you do before you started working for Wenger?

MC: I was a mechanic - for cars


WNA: In what department did you start?

MC: I started in the mechanical department. Since approximately 1985 I have been in the assembly department where I also did repairs on knives.


WNA: How long was your apprenticeship?

MC: 4 years


WNA: How did you come up with the idea for the Giant?

MC: I saw some knives into the Guinness Book and had the idea “why not to create such a kind of big knife and try to assemble it?”


WNA: When did you assemble your first Giant Knife?

MC: In 2000. Approximately 25 knives were assembled for exhibition at trade shows.


WNA: Who created the engineering plans for the Knife?

MC: Myself.


WNA: Have you trained anyone else to assemble the Giant?

MC: I trained my colleague Mr. Leuenberger to assemble this knife. He took some notes and then tried to assemble his first Giant Knife.


WNA: Did you ever assemble a Giant Knife incorrectly?

MC: Yes, it can happen in case of an unexpected matter. If I am disturbed or needed for another project and must leave the assembly process, I do not always remember with which pieces I have to carry on assembling the knife.


WNA: How many can you assemble in one day?

MC: I can assemble approx. 8 units a day. It takes approximately 1 hour to assemble a Giant Knife…of course without being disturbed J

We use a tool with holes in order to do the assembly. It is like a sandwich, that means layer by layer.


WNA: Do your colleagues have any nicknames for you now that the Giant is so popular?

MC: No, I must say I do not have any special nickname.

Some of my colleagues might be a bit afraid (of me) just thinking about assembling this very special Giant Knife, it is quite impressive.


WNA: Did you ever think that a pocketknife this large was possible?

MC: Yes, actually. With all kinds of pieces available, I thought it would be possible to assemble such a large knife.


WNA: What is your favourite tool on the Giant Knife? Why?

MC: My favourite tool is the blade. To me it is the most important tool on a knife. It’s always there to help out.


WNA: If you could change one tool what would it be? Why?

MC: I would not change anything on the Giant Knife. To me it is perfect.


WNA: The name of the knife is highly accurate, but not necessarily creative. What would you name it?

MC: In the US, there is ”Superman”. Here we have our “Superknife”.


WNA: How much larger can the Giant get?

MC: For the time being it cannot be larger. All tools that are made for our regular pocketknives are already included into it.


WNA: Have you ever thought about making other things like the Giant? A watch perhaps?

MC: No, I have never thought of other things like it.

However several prototypes were proposed - a 120mm version (like the Ranger Series) for example. But it was too big and the appearance was not so good.


WNA: Tell us something about the Giant that most people probably don't know.

MC: Everything is made by hand - manual assembly and manual riveting. It is not possible to have such a machine to assemble this kind of knife!



WNA: Tell us about the Guinness Book of World Records and the Giant?

MC: Our management was contacted by the Guinness Book of World Records organization (earlier in the year) and we have received the official certificate from them confirming that our Giant Knife is the World Largest Penknife.

WNA: Has the Giant Knife made you famous?

MC: No, I remain the same man.

Thanks to Wenger North America for supplying this interview!  www.WengerNA.com