Perfume Directory

Swiss Army (1996)
by Swiss Army


Swiss Army information

Year of Launch1996
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 159 votes)

People and companies

HouseSwiss Army

About Swiss Army

A fragrance created for those wonderful people behind the versitile Swiss Army Knife. The fragrance itself has notes of mint, lavender and cedarwood.

Reviews of Swiss Army

What's arguably worse than notoriety in the fragrance community? Well, anonymity is likely worse, because at least a bad fragrance is known to be bad, and draws in some curious stares. If nobody is talking about a scent, then likely nobody is buying or wearing it either, and it sort of dies a sad death in overstock warehouses across the globe. The venerable knife maker Victorinox isn't actually obscure, but one would argue that the name conjures images of the world-famous Swiss Army knife or even licensed camping gear long before any kind of fragrance, but after several aggressive expansions throughout the 70's and into the 90's, everything from luggage, apparel, watches, and toiletries became branded with the cross logo. I really like Swiss Army by Swiss Army (1996), which has since been rebranded as Swiss Army Classic under the Victorinox label due to the expansion of the line manyfold (more on that later), but I can't believe after 21 years of very conspicuous market presence, that nobody has ever talked much about it outside the reviews here. I had the stuff in High School, bought after a sniff from a tester at the local Wal-Mart, and I know that alone sends this damned near down the toilet sight unseen from the Creedophiles and Lutenites among us, but I wouldn't expect anyone buying certified-organic Cheerios from Whole Foods through the app on their $3000 Samsung smart fridge (those exist) to be bothered with a licensed brand fragrance anyway. As for the rest of you, Swiss Army Classic doesn't fit firmly in the 90's with it's minty green citrus vibe, since it's not ozonic or really all that aquatic either, resting somewhere between chypre and eau de cologne construction with EdT concentration, making it a lark among beige creations.

The opening notes are Japanese yuzu, bergamot, spearmint, and a small twinge of galbanum, which marries well. The yuzu is obviously inspired by L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme (1994), but it's odd bleached citrus tones mix with the mint and dry bergamot well, with a lavender sweetness in the middle which comes up fast to keep this from being the bitter sci-fi chemical bath that L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme's very stark opening becomes. Violet leaf dances with hearty rosemary, giving faint floral wisps of a greener de-gassed Fahrenheit (1988), but the alpine edelweiss flower gives Swiss Army Classic a unique "X factor" that comes across like a less-mustardy version of immortelle, which like Guerlain Coriolan (1998), gives appeal that one can't quite place their finger on during the heart of the wear. The base for Swiss Army Classic is a less interesting clean laundry musk not with a synthetic "cypress" note that underlines the price point like the bases of most inexpensive scents, but it earns the chypre comparison at least. Cedar and balsam fir bring more green to the bottom which mixes with the green top, and the whole thing is like backpacking through Switzerland at the end, but I don't get any chestnut or fireplace notes like the pyramid here suggests (guess they borrowed some fantasy from Calvin Klein too). Swiss Army Classic isn't the most unique thing out there, but in comparison to other things released in the mid-to-late 90's, the scent is rather old-school, and it's unknown perfumer seemed apt to mix trendy 90's citruses with barbershop heart notes and a light chypre-like green base that comes across like an eau de cologne but with a bit more woodsy oomph. Longevity and sillage aren't monstrous for the stuff and summer is definitely the best time to use Swiss Army Classic, but it's refreshing without feeling super artificial.

I guess this stuff sold well somewhere in the world, as Victorinox felt compelled to vomit out a Swiss Army's worth of flankers that I've never seen, and there have even been some clones of this spotted online, so it must be popular enough in some regions to be boolegged, which is puzzling since it's non-existent in the US outside discount sites or obscure mall kiosks. I haven't seen the stuff in the wild since my original bottle was exhausted sometime in the early 2000's and I never bothered replacing it because I was knee-deep in Avon then designers, but I feel Swiss Army Classic has suffered a bit of critical injustice if apparently not commercial because it never caught the attention of the fragrance community. If you're looking for a quickly citrus floral musk with a garnish of smooth mint, an exotic flower which a song was named after, and lots of green, this might be your newfound obscure gem. Swiss Army is most comparable to Live Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent (1998), but doesn't have the boozy clear rum note, is more floral, plus is a Hell of a lot cheaper and easier to find because it's not discontinued. People who miss Live Jazz being commonly available and don't want to pay over department store prices might also have a new hero in the Swiss Army. I won't say the stuff is "classic", but this forgotten 90's cheapie is surprisingly not very 90's in tone, checking off all the boxes for an herbal citric tonic-like eau that doesn't sag like a cologne. Very nice!
25th September, 2018
My first cologne and I still love it. The scent is very nice and unique. It has good projection but doesn't last very long. Still for the price it's good. I think having a good scent is more important then how long it lasts. I feel like people give it bad reviews because A its cheap therefore they associate it with being bad, even though I've smelt expensive colognes far worse, or B it's very popular and therefor they don't like it. I still think its a great cologne despite not lasting long and even though I may not wear it as much I still enjoy it.
14th March, 2018
A very easy to find cologne that you should avoid

Swiss Army is one of the first colognes that I tried, way back in my undergrad. A few buddies and I were getting ready to hit the town, and one of them pulled it out.

At first I was blown away by the strength; up until that point I'd just used ADIDAS aftershaves and Old Spice body spray. So the group of us covered ourselves in the stuff and went out for a night that I can't quite recall so easily as the beginning.

Years later, I walk by a discount display at Shoppers and see it on sale for $20. I grab a bottle, eager to try it out after a few years experience in fragrances.

Swiss Army opens with a very mentholy, lemon and plastic smell. Imagine holding a lemon in one hand and a plastic hockey ball in the other, then holding them both to your nose and sniffing deeply. This, combined with the menthol (mint in the note listing), do not blend well. Instead of working together, they remain separate and distinct.

This opening isn't pleasant, and smells cheap.

The middle notes quickly shift to something even more plastic, with a very disagreeable violet undertone. The violet is extremely artificial, and reminds me more of candy grape flavor.

Finally, Swiss Air actually does something impressive: a dry, airy scent emerges. It's unlike anything I've smelled in other fragrances, and I can see where the designer was going with it. It's about as outdoor as Swiss Army gets. Alongside this dry air, there is a bitter and musky wood, which finishes off this scent before it fades away.

All in all Swiss Air is a cheap, pharmacy scent that isn't all that great. You could spend a little bit more and smell a lot better.

Pros: Cheap, easy to find
Cons: Cheap, artificial"

24th July, 2013
Tony T Show all reviews
United States
i have been wearing this for over 10 years and it just gets better. very inexpensive but yet well done. very clean and fresh with a little bit of sex appeal. comparable to geir ness but this maybe a bit better..
22nd October, 2012
To me, I think it's unique enough. I don't run across people wearing this, so therefore it gets noticed positively.

Pleasant yet bold enough not to be lumped into the negative "inoffensive" category.

A standard for me that always gets replaced when empty, and a signature regular daily wear frag for several years.

Just expanding my collection after a lull now, but this will remain in the regular rotation.
16th October, 2012
Ironically, I bought this because I wanted something, "different"! The wood scent on the test strip caught my attention and kept it for a week so I went back and bought it. There are times, I guess, when one needs a home base to return to after exploring the jungle of "amazing," "unique," and, "unforgettable." Swiss Army is none of those things but it IS a good quality workday fragrance that still gets compliments from total strangers.
01st February, 2012

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