Hi - I picked up this knife with a custom cherry wood handle - looks great. I've read good things on the forum, so I thought I'd provide first impressions for anyone else considering taking the leap...
A little about me - main cook for a family of 4. Professional in IT (takes longer to explain what I do than write this review). Before this knife I've used and owned Tojiro DP, Moritaka AS, Hiromoto AS, Hattori HD.
Spine thickness is the same as my Tojiros (according to a side-by-side eyeball comparison) - this scared me a bit at first.... didn't take long to realize its a completely different knife. It feels very natural, almost like an extension of my arm. It's very light, bringing a new dimension of cutting agility to my kitchen. My friends can look at it, but no touchie!!
Factory cutting edge seems to be sharper at the heel than at the tip. My home-sharpened blades are definitely sharper - but it's the sharpest out-of-the-box knife I've had. The factory edge was toothy enough to finely dice cherry tomatoes accurately. I used the tip to clean up & finely slice a chicken breast and I wasn't as happy. I'm sure this will get better as either I improve my technique or I properly sharpen the knife. The knife has a great rock to it - when I loosely cut up some cilantro, it made clean cuts, and showed me how fast it wants to work.
This knife has proven to me that there's more to knife performance than the meat/cutting edge of the blade - the balance, distal taper and feather weight is fantastic and is hands down better than anything I have ever used. The knife's fit and finish is spectacular - no sharp edges, and everything flows - great knife shape too. I should have bought this knife first - I know with a little sharpening it will become my most used knife! A work of art, definitely worth the money.