The Opinel has become so famous that it is often confusing when referring to it. It is true to say that the "Opinel knife" is almost a pleonasm. Is there a little village hardware dealer out there who has not got a display unit of Opinels? Well known throughout France between the two World Wars, it then started to gradually cross frontiers. The gold medal won at Turin in 1911 was only the first step. When the number of knives sold in 1939 reached the 20 million mark, it could be imagined that the brand was already well known. Especially as it is not a perishable item : an Opinel lasts a long time! Today, with some 4 to 5 million knives produced each year, its reputation extends well beyond Europe.
In the United States, it is known as the "French Knife" ; and Paul Bocuse, as well known in this country as he is in France, never misses the opportunity to remind the Americans that this was his first childhood knife and he always uses it when at work...
It has even become a museum piece, and not only in Savoie. Of course at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, it has its own temple : "the Opinel Museum", but it is also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New-York. In 1985, the Victoria and Albert Museum organized an exhibition of some one hundred products presenting the best "design" : there, next to the Porsche 911, the Rolex watch and Ray-Ban sunglasses… an Opinel knife! A knife born in the mountains, the Opinel has climbed many summits, and taken part in various expeditions.
Light and robust, simple, reasonably inexpensive, it is the preferred tool of mountaineers. In the pocket of guides or hardened travellers, it can be found in Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Jannu, Huascaran, Chopicalqui, as well as in Amazonia, in Greenland, in Madagascar or in Africa. Is it not only to a sherpa that a mountaineer would like to offer an Opinel from his pocket?
All things considered, a century after its creation, the little knife from Gevoudaz is in a very healthy state. It continues to conquer markets. Its name has almost become commonplace, so much so that it is often forgotten that it is a family name. However, the name Opinel is a family name. After Joseph, after Marcel, Maurice entered the company in 1950, and then became its head. Under his management, the new Revériaz factory joined the one at Cognin.
For the prestige that the success of its products has had upon the whole Savoie region, it has also received a number of distinctions, one particularly close to Savoyard hearts being le Prix des Neiges (the Snow Prize).
Lastly, one of his three children is the managing director of the cutlery department. So, in three generations, the Opinel knife has managed to see through its first hundred years. Continuation is guaranteed and the second century has started promisingly well!