Hi, as you all know, the quest for more and nicer knives to add to the collection never stops and so here I was browsing through the web looking for stuff. And I came across plenty of custom knives including Devin, Burke, Shigis etc but it seems like there are not so many people with Watanabes out there. Is it because they are inferior in some ways? Or is he just getting less exposure?
I don't mind if you guys turn this thread into a thread discussing the pros and cons of various custom knife makers out there. I quite hope that will happen actually lol :P
Watanabe's PRO lineup are darn fine knives - if you want to find inumerable comments, just expand your search using earlier start dates. Almost every 'old dog' on the three forums has had Watanabe knives at some time, and has probably reviewed then very favorably. BAck when I started on these forums (I think thats close to9 -10 years ago...?) there were 3 artisinal craftsmen...Carter, Takeda & Watanabe. I felt like Watanabe was the "IT" knife until people discovered you could get the ebony handle on the Takeda without having to pay the extra $15 or $25.
His standard knives are pretty nice too, with the trade off being rustic for value. I wouldn't mind owning a standard shiro uchi santuko in 210mm - I'm just not sure he would make it at the value price point.
Apparently the multi piece set is thought to be outsourced....
For all the good things Watanabe is, a few things that (IMHO) Watanabe is not...
His knives are not lasers - you will never mistake a Watanabe for a Tadatsuna. Doesn't seem to effect performance, if 'cutting' is how you measure performance.
He's not willing to do whatever YOU want, just to call it a 'custom'. If he thinks your request is for a knife thats too thin, or the wrong profile, or the wrong steel, or not up his ally, he will probably try to talk his way out of making it.
At the end of the day - seems like a cool guy, makes really good knives, and you have to love his little indicator that sometimes reports he's "hellishly busy"
Haha seems kinda like a chef, no?
Originally Posted by mikemac
I don't know how 'performance' is measured and it may be different for everyone but for me, getting and staying sharp are the main points I look for in a knife.
How about value for money? How does his knives hold up to any of the other customs, be they Western or Japanese?
I think Mike's summary is very good. Maybe you need to be aware that Watanabe's cladding is very reactive, so they patina very fast. That said, I think everybody should have at least one of his knives. I have loved everyone I have seen from him, still could kick myself that I traded one of his 330 sujis for something else a few years ago. The gyutos are definitely not lasers but they are great all-round knives with an excellent geometry. I especially like the wa garasukis (have one myself) and the honesukis he makes. His standard kuro uchi nakiri and santoku are also very good (and thin) knives IMHO, but they are clearly more pedestrian than everything coming from the pro line. I have less experience with his single beveled knives, only have one 240 takohiki from him, but I seem to remember that Dave thinks highly of them after having sharpened quite a few.
I think Watanabe makes horrible knives. Anybody who owns them should replace them with something else.
I am quite willing to be a repository for this rubbish.
Of special interest are: (in no particular order)
120mm Petty,150mm Petty, and any length Mukimono, Yanagi, Fuguhiki, or Kiritsuke.
If you own any of these drawer queens, please contact me immeditately for price negotiations.
Dang it -- you guys have me spending time on Watanabe's web site now
Originally Posted by apicius9
I do, I think that his single bevels are fantastic knives, I'm reminded about this every time I handle one.
And Watanabe takes his Pro knives to the harder side, you don't find blue with HRC 64-65 very often. The cladding is a PITA though, it stinks.
Would he do stainless cladding at a customer's request? Would any knife maker do that at all?
Originally Posted by Rottman
I have 3 Watanabe knives. One is an excellent 150mm KU petty with a beautiful spalted hickory handle from Stefan, one is a cute little Akijiri, and one is a 270mm white steel Yanagi with the most stunning, awesome, ridiculous looking spalted wood handle you've ever seen. It's a beauty. Dave has had it in his hands a couple times.
I absolutely love them all. I probably don't talk about them much because in this group it feels like we've all talked about Watanabe plenty before. He makes some of the best knives period, but don't we all already own one and know this ourselves? Obviously there are some guys out there who have yet to behold the awesomeness that is a Watanabe blade, and for that the only solution is to get one yourself.