|The serial number shown here is from a Swiss Army watch from 2001.|
- RELEASE DATE – This is the first year that a certain model was sold.
- MANUFACTURE DATE – This is the year that a particular watch specimen was physically produced, and it can be tied directly to the serial number. Because most watch companies create a new model and sell it for many years, the MANUFACTURE DATE and the RELEASE DATE do not have to be the same. They can be years apart.
- FINAL DATE – This would be the last year that a model was made. Perhaps the model got phased out or replaced with a newer version of the watch. This date is almost never published, but it can be deduced by finding the first year the watch is NOT sold and subtracting 1 year.
|PVD coated watches can have the serial numbers filled in with white paint.|
Why are these different dates important?The small details are what makes watch collectors "tick". In high-end brands it can mean a significant difference in value based on desirability and rarity. In some cases it may be desirable to have the first year model of a watch. For a more accessible brand like Victorinox, it may be better to have a later year if improvements were made (though Victorinox seems very consistent within the lifespan of any given model). I think it is just a good practice to know what you are buying and how old it might be.
Before I knew this serial number trick, I spent many hours piecing together the release dates of the Victorinox Swiss Army watches in my collection. I used a few methods to make my best guess of a watch's age. Sometimes I still use these old school techniques to find out the RELEASE DATE of a watch model. Here are some suggestions on how to do this for almost any watch.
|Victorinox Swiss Army watches after 2004 usually have a serial number and a model number on the case back.|
- No, I am not talking about praying to heaven for answers, but contacting the manufacturer. Many watch companies have decent customer service and should be able to answer the basic question of RELEASE DATE. They should be able to answer the MANUFACTURE DATE if you have the serial number. Some historic manufacturers, like Longines, have dedicated employees to answer obscure questions. I was very impressed with their professionalism when I asked them to help date my grandfather's watch.
- Some brands realize that a rich heritage of past models should be celebrated. Some manufacturers may have official online references for the watches that they have produced. Victorinox is sadly very much in the here-and-now. Once they stop selling a watch, it pretty much disappears from their web site. However, you should still ask them the basics about your Swiss Army watch model by contacting customer service.
|This serial number indicates that this watch was made in 2004 in February.|
- If you do not know what your watch is called, try using the Google image search and descriptive words like "Swiss Army red dial chronograph automatic". This could reveal the model number or name of the watch and you will be one step closer to getting the information you want. Once you have the model name or number you can proceed to the next step.
- Google finds everything so get creative and search for watch reviews, press releases or "old news" about your watch. Use the product name and model number in combination with the brand name to get the most out of your search.
- The "good thing" about the web is that it is a treasure trove of information. It is possible to access watch reviews from several years ago and many of those reviews have a date in the byline or title. This way if a review reads "New watch model revealed at Basel World" and the article is dated from 2010, then there is your answer.
- The "bad thing" about the web is that its content is like shifting sand. The web sites of yesterday do not necessarily last forever. Probably thousands of aging web pages go off line everyday taking the valuable "old" information with them. Part of the reason for the Watch Hunter blog is to keep some of this disappearing information available for Victorinox Swiss Army watch lovers.
|The serial number is the longer digit in the lower left. The model number is shown to the right.|
- There may be no better experts on Earth than the passionate collectors of any given brand. Joining a watch community like the WatchYouSeek Forum opens you to a large pool of collective knowledge and wisdom about practically any watch on Earth... and a few that have traveled off Earth like the Omega Speedmaster.
|Some Swiss Army serial numbers that are not etched can difficult to read on older models.|
- I have meticulously collected many Swiss Army catalogs with the oldest one going back to 2005. Anything before that has been incredibly difficult to get my hands on. Catalogs have detailed information about the watches, and new releases are usually labeled "NEW MODEL".
- NUMBERS 1 & 2 = MANUFACTURE YEAR
- NUMBERS 3 & 4 = MANUFACTURE MONTH
|Victorinox Swiss Army Watch Serial Number Lookup
(Key: *Unconfirmed year. †possible repeating serial number prefix)
|FIRST 2 SERIAL NUMBERS||YEAR MADE|
|Unknown or N/A||1989*|
|90 or 99||1999*|
|and so on...||and so on...|
Also, I found a strange repeat in the numbering-scheme were future decade dates match up with the numbers assigned to the 1990s years. For instance, The following years could potentially have the same starting serial numbers
- 1990 & 2000 (both start with 00)
- 1991 & 2010 (both start with 10)
- 1992 & 2020 (both might start with 20)