The Legacy of Opinel: Crafting Tradition and Innovation Since 1887

Victor-Amédée Opinel, a peddler skilled in forging nails, established his first forge workshop in Gevoudaz, near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. His son, Daniel Opinel, later took over and gained renown among local peasants for his quality billhooks and sickles.

Joseph Opinel: Innovator of the Iconic Knife

In 1890, Joseph Opinel, the eldest son of Daniel, joined the family workshop at eighteen. With a passion for machinery, he invented the now-famous Opinel knife, defying his father's traditionalist preferences.

Expansion and Diversification

By 1897, Joseph introduced 12 sizes of his knife, catering to various uses. The success of these knives led him to establish a factory in 1901 at Pont de Gevoudaz to increase production using modern techniques.

The Crowned Hand Emblem

In 1909, Joseph adopted the Crowned Hand emblem, a nod to the cutler's mark mandated by King Charles IX in 1565, symbolizing the knife's quality and Savoyard heritage.

Global Recognition

Joseph Opinel's innovations were internationally recognized when he participated in the 1911 International Alpine Exhibition in Turin, where his products won a gold medal.

Moving to Modernity

Realizing the limitations of his remote workshop, Joseph relocated the factory to Cognin near Chambéry in 1915, modernizing production facilities to meet growing demands.

Challenges and Resilience

A significant fire in 1926 destroyed the factory, but the Opinel family quickly rebuilt, continuing to innovate and expand their product line.

Virobloc Safety Lock

In 1955, Marcel Opinel, Joseph's son, developed the Virobloc safety lock, enhancing the knife's safety by allowing the blade to be locked in both open and closed positions.

A Design Icon

The Opinel knife was recognized in 1985 by the Victoria and Albert Museum as one of the world's most well-designed items, and in 1989, it was officially added to the French dictionary.

Continuing Innovation and Expansion

Today, the company continues to thrive under the leadership of Joseph's great-grandsons, maintaining its commitment to quality and innovation while expanding internationally.

Celebrating Over a Century of Craftsmanship

As Opinel celebrates over 130 years of success, it remains dedicated to innovation, quality, and the preservation of its heritage, ensuring that the Opinel knife continues to be an essential tool and a symbol of fine craftsmanship.


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