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Research Updated: 12 May 2018

The best Swiss inventions

The versatility of its famous multi-use knives and the precision of its watches have given Switzerland the reputation of being one of the most innovative countries on the planet. The Alpine country has a long tradition of inventions that have helped improve our day-to-day lives. Inventions such as the ‘Rex’ vegetable peeler and the well-known coffee capsules show how Swiss talent has been able to adapt itself to society’s new needs and contribute to its development.

Aluminum paper (1910)

Papel Aluminio-inventos-suiza-BBVA

Tin sheets were replaced by aluminum due to its resistance and performance, as well as the bad taste that tin left on the food. A factory belonging to J.G. Neher & Sons, located close to the falls of the River Rhine, was a pioneer in the process applying this metal to food. (For example, it was used in packaging Swiss chocolates).

The Zipper (1923)


Martin Winterhalter  was responsible for one of the inventions that revolutionized the fashion world: the zipper. The brand Riri was the first to manufacture it industrially. The factory, located in Mendrisio in southern Switzerland, currently produces luxury fastenings for the most exclusive brands in the world.

Velcro (1941)


It’s an invention inspired by nature. The engineer George de Mestral noted that when he returned from walking outside, he had to remove many burrs that had adhered to his clothing. He designed two pieces of cloth, one with thousands of loops and another with thousands of hooks. His invention is called velcro, a combination of the words velvet and “little hook” in French: velour and crochet.

Potato peeler (1947)


A tool that´s probably in all modern kitchen drawers. This simple and economic product, known as “Rex,” was designed by Alfred Neweczeral after World War Two. The company Zena AG still manufactures them today.

Helvetica font (1957)


This font, called sans serif, has become an icon of modern print, and one of the most used in the world, both in advertising and signs of the major capital cities. It was created by the designer Max Miedinger in Basel.

Coffee capsules (1976)


Eric Favre, an engineer at the R+D department of Nestle, patented Nespresso coffee in the 1970s. However, it wasn't until 1991, after decades of innovation and searching for the perfect coffee, that the invention revolutionized the market. Currently, more than 6.5 billion capsules are sold per year.

Doodle (2007)


Michael Näf, founder and CEO of this Zurich-based company, developed an online tool to organize personal and professional events. His invention is used by over 20 million people around the globe every month, and is operated in over 20 different languages.