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Swiss Army Knives Collector Bridges China-Switzerland Cultural Exchange

By Dai Yuan|May 08,2024

Chongqing - In Chongqing Liangjiang New Area's Sinoswiss Technopark, a vibrant red storefront sign captures the attention of those nearby. Inside, visitors discover a private Swiss Army Knives collection meticulously curated by enthusiast Yang Haoran. 

Yang's distinctive venue not only reflects his profound appreciation for craftsmanship but also serves as a conduit for cross-cultural exchange.

Chinese residents step through its doors, immersing themselves in Switzerland's heritage, while Swiss residents in China can find familiar solace within its walls, fostering cultural connections between the two nations.

Yang Haoran's Private Swiss Army Knife Collection house is located at the Sinoswiss Technopark in Liangjiang New Area. (Photo/Dai Yuan)

Yang, invited by the Sinoswiss Technopark, sees the venue as an ideal platform to share his collection with the public, offering free access. His passion for collecting Swiss army knives began with a cherished childhood memory of his father giving him his first knife at age seven. 

Intrigued by its craftsmanship, Yang embarked on a lifelong pursuit to acquire an extensive collection, utilizing online shopping platforms since the early 2000s to broaden his selection.

Over 4,000 Swiss army knives worldwide are exhibited in Yang's collection house. (Photo/Yang Haoran)

Yang adheres to the principle that a product's utility is a significant criterion for its worthiness of collection. For instance, the Swiss army knife's allure lies in its versatility as a portable toolkit, helping people tackle daily challenges. He values such items for their practical functionality.

He passionately seeks rare pieces, embracing the thrill of the hunt. Yang scours online marketplaces worldwide and travels extensively, searching for vintage or unique knives. Despite moments of regret at auction houses and missing prized knives, he also experiences triumph, offering five-fold prices to secure coveted pieces.

For Yang, rarity reigns supreme. He clarified that rarity doesn't typically pertain to limited editions readily available for purchase but rather to earlier mass-produced items.

"Because these pieces may be damaged or lost over time, it's harder to find an unused one with a complete package," said Yang.

In 2017, Yang experienced a highlight when he was chosen as one of seven fortunate winners in Victorinox's Swiss Army Knife Collectors Competition, making him the sole Asian recipient of this prestigious award.

"For me, it's a mutual acknowledgment," said Yang. "Earning the title of collector from such a prestigious brand signifies their recognition of my collection, while I deeply appreciate their craftsmanship ethos."

In recognition of his collecting efforts, Victorinox awarded Yang a personalized gold army knife engraved with his name and invited him to visit their factory in Switzerland.

While touring the factory and the CEO's office, Yang was impressed by the humility and precision demonstrated, reflecting the ethos embodied in the Swiss army knife itself.

During another visit to the factory, Victorinox's CEO Carl Elsener customized a batch of 100 Swiss army knives for Yang. These knives were inscribed with "SAK Collectors China," acknowledging his contribution to building a community of collectors in China and serving as a special gift for Chinese collectors who own this unique model.

"The customized model is distinctive and usually not available for sale, which adds to its appeal and value among collectors," Yang said with pride. "Collectors worldwide often express great interest and a strong desire to acquire such a coveted item."

Carl Elsener, CEO of Victorinox customized 100 Swiss army knives for collectors in China. (Photo/Yang Haoran)

Despite collecting over 4,000 Swiss Army Knives worldwide, Yang's journey transcends mere accumulation. It embodies a spirit of prudence and delicacy, mirroring the craftsmanship he admires. His newfound openness to uncollected models reflects a deeper understanding that true fulfillment lies not in possession but in the joy of sharing and connecting with fellow enthusiasts.

Looking ahead, Yang plans to exhibit his collection in Switzerland one day, further bridging the cultural exchange between China and Switzerland.

Swiss ambassador to China Jürg Burri (right) visited Yang Haoran's (left) collection house in April. (Photo/swisscham.org)


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