I suppose I should title this one “Swiss Style Knives” since these aren't really trying to pass for real SAKs so much as they are simply pocket knives that are similar to those produced by Victorinox and Wenger. Still, they aren't real SAKs and I'm certain the typical layman wouldn't know the difference, since these are about the right size, have the same features and are very similar in appearance.
First up is my most recent acquisition, and one I have been after for some time. It's a stylish rendition of a Victorinox Tinker from a company called Richartz, and to be honest, I think it is quite a pretty knife with contrasting white scales and black implements and silver liners. It features a main blade, Vic style bottle opener, hook style can opener, back mounted phillips and an awl. Interestingly enough, this one is missing the usual small blade found on the Tinker.
For a cheap knife (I paid all of $3 at a flea market for this one) it's actually not that bad. It doesn't have the same snap that a Victorinox knife does, but the blade is razor sharp out of the box, something very few SAKs are. The phillips is well made, which is always an easy way to tell the overall quality of the knife. Many knockoff phillips drivers are misshapen, but this one is formed perfectly. The awl isn't sharpened, but does have a sewing eye, and the bottle opener, well I seem to recall it starting off well enough but I don't remember much after that! The can opener I didn't try, mostly as this will not be an EDC knife for me, and while I'm certain it works well enough, I am also sure it will carve off the pretty black coating.
All in all, well worth $3, and probably a bit more. As I said, this is my first Richartz, but other members have also spoken well of them in the past, so it probably won't be my last one.
The next is one I have been trying unsuccessfully to find info on for some time now. I bought it on EDCSource when I saw it as it piqued my curiosity. It's basically a Spartan model, except that the scales say ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS on them, and the tang stamp matches. Given the competition between Henckels and Victorinox/Forschner in the kitchen, I thought it would be neat to see how they compared in the pocket.
Other than a few very slight differences, this knife could easily pass for a Victorinox- besides of course the obvious scale and tang stamp markings. The corkscrew has a thinner worm, only noticeable to someone looking specifically for it. The awl is a completely different shape to the Vic's and while it's not sharpened, one side is ground down in something similar to the false edge found on many fighting knives.
The last knife I want to look at is a cheap advertising knife that a SOSAK member sent me. Or is it? At first glance it looks an awful lot like one of the Chinese knockoffs you find in airports or at tourist points everywhere. It would be a mistake to write this one off as such though- it's not a bad knife at all, and the first proof of that, as usual, is the tang stamp. This one is marked INOX Solingen Germany, which makes sense since it's an ad knife for the Olympiaturm Munchen, a tower in Munich. I could pretend I know about the tower, but it's just easier to provide the link to Wikipedia I would be regurgitating information from.
The knife on the other hand, is something I do know about and can comment on. It's got nice wood scales with a great relief of the tower on it. It's set up with a main blade, hook style can opener, bottle opener, awl and corkscrew. It's got a decent snap and a bail, which is a feature I wish more knives had as it makes a great secure point, which is pretty important to me as a kayaker.
It's fascinating though, as it is perhaps the best German copy of a Chinese knockoff of a Swiss knife I've ever seen. I think, actually, it is the only such knife I've ever seen! It has the overlarge awl and cutout scale to accommodate it, more similar to the typical knockoffs on the market, but with typical German quality.
While supporting copies and knockoffs is generally considered to be unacceptable by many collectors, but I have kind of a bizarre fascination with some of them. Yes, it may be a sign of a severe mental illness, but until someone comes up with a good long name for it in Latin, I'll keep appreciating them for what they are, regardless of brand name.