Opinel Celebrates 130 Years with Special No. 8

Opinel, one of the oldest knife companies in the world, is celebrating its 130th birthday this year. The company decided to release a special No. 8 model to commemorate the occasion, with multiple unique flourishes.

The No. 8 is the core of Opinel’s lineup, as synonymous with the French company as the Delica is with Spyderco or the Marine Knife is with KA-BAR. The “8” designation indicates the blade length: 8 cm, or 3.28 inches. The blade shape is a very thin, capable clip point well-suited to every day tasks, some light outdoors work, and even food prep. That blade is paired with the recognizable fish-tail handle shape, which provides a comfortable, ergonomic, three-dimensional grip.

The Opinel pocket knife is like traditional knife patterns in that not much has changed about its fundamentals since its debut in 1897. Perhaps the biggest change ever was the implementation of the Virobloc locking collar, which was designed by Marcel Opinel in 1955. In 2006 art book publisher Phaidon included the knife in their Design Classics book, which compiled 999 of the best-designed objects as selected by designers from around the world.

No surprise, then, that the Anniversary Edition doesn’t make any changes to this resonant and venerable product. However, it does sport some noticeable aesthetic differences to spice things up. The blade is only available in a stainless steel configuration, and, along with the Virobloc collar, has been given a black coating to offset the other big change, which is the handle.

Opinel knife handles are made out of various natural and synthetic materials, and the Anniversary Edition’s is made from hornbeam wood. Hornbeam is a tough, hard wood, and falls into the “ironwood” category due to this resiliency. The handle has been etched with various emblems that nod towards different parts of the company’s long history.

All of these details add up to a knife that will almost certainly be a collectible rather than a daily user for most owners. However, it remains capable of all the same cutting chores than any other No. 8 can do, should it be called upon to work.

The Anniversary Edition is releasing today, Bastille Day, and in the U.S. will be limited to just 500 pieces.

Knife in Featured Image: Opinel 130th Anniversary Edition No. 8