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Has Wusthof missed the boat?

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NO ChoP!

Old Head
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Its a well known fact that to stay viable in business, one must reinvent themselves from time to time; its called the Madonna formula...lol

It seems Henckels has done a good job keeping up with the growing trend towards J-knives with the Miyabi line (which I think still needs some work; terrible handles), use of much harder steels, thinner blades, and teaming up with Kramer.

I don't think Wusthof has done anything to sway any of us their way. Although I heard they are hardening their steel more, is this enough?

What I don't want to see is a poorly done ripoff of a J-knife......
 

Avishar

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Back when I worked at SLT, Wusthof was acclimated by most home cooks as the be all end all knife (the same types of people would also be the ones that wouldn't be convinced their $9000 cutco set was not the best). It seems that the only real expansion Wusthof has had is in creating Japanese "style" knives, such as their santoku and nakiri. The second thing they did with the Ikon line is cut back the bolster so they wouldn't have the swale anymore, introduce more "ergonomic" handles, and apparently slightly harden their steel. From what I've seen from them they stick to their guns or introduce silly things, like their scalloped santoku "Wave" knife. I think they have their target customers (and enough endorsements on food network) and will continue without expansion into the J world until they feel they need to. It would be nice to see them update themselves more, but as long as people like Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay are sporting their knives it will probably be a while. Now that I've made this statement I'm fairly certain the universe will go against me and Wusthof will introduce a J-line just to prove me wrong :p
 

JohnnyChance

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We have less than 1000 users here. Not to say everyone who loves j-knives posts here, but in the US there isn't a ton. We are not their target market. Their target market is 1000x times the size of the market we fit into. They are more than happy to be on every wedding registry from here till Labor Day. I don't think they are struggling, and if they really wanted to, they could throw a bunch of money at R&D and marketing, and create a j-knife style lineup that was successful. Even if they did, it would not compete with our Konosukes and Aritsugus or whatever. It would be aimed at Shun's market share. And like Henckel, they would probably buy/create a separate company, so they don't waver from their identity as a german knife maker.
 

rockbox

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We have less than 1000 users here. Not to say everyone who loves j-knives posts here, but in the US there isn't a ton. We are not their target market. Their target market is 1000x times the size of the market we fit into. They are more than happy to be on every wedding registry from here till Labor Day. I don't think they are struggling, and if they really wanted to, they could throw a bunch of money at R&D and marketing, and create a j-knife style lineup that was successful. Even if they did, it would not compete with our Konosukes and Aritsugus or whatever. It would be aimed at Shun's market share. And like Henckel, they would probably buy/create a separate company, so they don't waver from their identity as a german knife maker.

Yes this. This why zwilling created Miyabi and you don't see Henkels anywhere on the knife or packaging. They don't want to cannibalize their core sales.
 

Noodle Soup

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A couple of years ago I was talking to the head designer at a major U.S cutlery company, one that has already been mentioned in this thread. He told me they were dropping a certain model pocket knife because it was "only" selling around 5000 units a year. They wanted things that sold at least 25000 units annually. I'm guessing most of the kitchen knives those of us on this forum are interested in would never hit that 5000 point, let alone 25,000. The real world cutlery market lives in a different dimension than we do. :)
 

kalaeb

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The real world cutlery market lives in a different dimension than we do. :)
No doubt, yet...how many of us still own a Wusty? I do, in fact I still have a hard time getting my wife to convert despite the large amount of alternatives on the mag block.

Go figure!
 

stereo.pete

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My first decent knife was a Wustorf 8" ikon Chef's knife and I still use it for brutal/heavy duty tasks. I will say that the fit and finish is fantastic and the handle is ultra comfortable. They make a great knife and as mentioned above, they are a market that they are targeting and targeting well. I was actually thinking about having a custom knife built with a handle copied from the Wustorf but then I fell in love with Wa-handles and the rest is history.
 

FryBoy

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We have less than 1000 users here. Not to say everyone who loves j-knives posts here, but in the US there isn't a ton. We are not their target market. Their target market is 1000x times the size of the market we fit into. They are more than happy to be on every wedding registry from here till Labor Day. I don't think they are struggling, and if they really wanted to, they could throw a bunch of money at R&D and marketing, and create a j-knife style lineup that was successful. Even if they did, it would not compete with our Konosukes and Aritsugus or whatever. It would be aimed at Shun's market share. And like Henckel, they would probably buy/create a separate company, so they don't waver from their identity as a german knife maker.
You hit the nail on the head. Here's the current ratings from Consumer Reports, far more relevant to the general marketplace than any opinions expressed here:

 

FryBoy

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My first decent knife was a Wustorf 8" ikon Chef's knife and I still use it for brutal/heavy duty tasks. I will say that the fit and finish is fantastic and the handle is ultra comfortable. They make a great knife and as mentioned above, they are a market that they are targeting and targeting well. I was actually thinking about having a custom knife built with a handle copied from the Wustorf but then I fell in love with Wa-handles and the rest is history.
+1

I still have the Wusthof Classic knives I bought in the late 1960s/early 1970s (before they were called "Classic"). I used them for nearly 40 years before discovering Hattori and other J-knives, and I loved them. They sharpened well, kept a good edge for months (with occasional steeling), and cut anything I needed to cut. They're comfortable, very well made, and built to last. I still reach for my 8" Wusthof Chef's knife for certain tasks that might damage my J-knives, and my wife uses them exclusively (mainly, I think, because she's afraid of what might happen if she were to damage one of my "good" knives).

Despite the vitriol directed at the brand, Wusties are good, serviceable knives that are more than adequate for 99.9% of home cooks. The fact that they're inferior to the J-knives we all love and discuss endlessly doesn't change that.
 

NO ChoP!

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I think the fact that Henckels, as well as Wusthof, is associated with years of quality, is why the Miyabi was a no brainer. It really is a nice knife, with good steel, at a reasonable price point; plus, it adds a rock solid warranty. Like I said, I don't want to see a crappy Wusthof J-knife wannabe, but, I would like to see them create a new line, even to compete against the likes of the Twin Cermax, which I think the Ikon is closest to, except for the all important steel.

Back when Henckels made the move to be sold at the likes of Target, while Wusthof held on and continued to only be available at higher ended retailers, I thought Henckels may have severely damaged their name; but they seem to be doing well.

I guess, in the end, I would like to see Wusthof come up with something that would intrigue even the knuts on our forums, as I've always seen them as a little nicer than the Henckel....
 

FryBoy

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...Back when Henckels made the move to be sold at the likes of Target, while Wusthof held on and continued to only be available at higher ended retailers....
Not entirely true. I bought my Wusthof knives in the late 60s/early 70s at a chain of membership discount department stores here in L.A. called Fedco (no longer around). At the time membership in Fedco was restricted to government employees and the like. It was really a predecessor of Costco, Sam's Club, etc. -- hardly high-end.
 

iceman01

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I once talked to a Wuesthof representative and he told me that they are well aware of the superior abilities of J-knives in terms of sharpness, edge retention and wedging but that 99% of the professional users would destroy a J-knife's edge within minutes during service. We talked about hardness and he told me that they tested and the the 58 HRC they currently use is just the right number for being not prone to chipping when abused and holding an edge reasonably well plus responding well to a steel.

Two or three years back, I spoke to a shop owner who was not satisfied with the quality of Zwilling knives. She had several boning knives that snapped while being used, she told me that she never encountered this with a Wuesthof knife, plus Zwilling refused to exchange these knives. Regadring customer service I was told that Wuesthof exchanged a 20 year old knife whose handle cracked when it fell off the table for a brand new one.

To use KC's automobile analogies, we are the very small elite group that uses those super sports cars like a Porsche GT3 RS, Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Murcielago LP 640 or the like. We are an extremely small proportion of the market, ergo not too interesting for the manufacturers.
 

Cadillac J

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I've never met a Wusthof that could cut as well as a Forschner.

And I even had their newest (2007+) top of the line series-the Wusthof Classic Ikons...and all I could think about was why the cheap knife I used at my job back in college seemed to cut so much better than any of the higher priced German products.
 

rockbox

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You hit the nail on the head. Here's the current ratings from Consumer Reports, far more relevant to the general marketplace than any opinions expressed here:

How did a Ginsu and Tramontina cut better than a Shun Classic? Its hard to take CR seriously. I remember a bike review 20+ years ago, where they warned about not getting some cheap walmart bicycle because the brakes were too good. One of there testers flipped over the handle bars. Stupid!
 

FryBoy

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I'm not suggesting that CU's ratings are god's word, but a great many shoppers do rely on them.
 

tim0mit

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If you get the versions sold at SLT or with the standard soft Henckels steel (morimoto editions) the handles are in my opinion the absolute best to be had and fit and finish is outstanding.
 

bieniek

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Weird... Once in London sous ordered Wusthof Classic for 70 quid.
I dont know where and from who you could buy that quality knife for that kinda money. It was pretty sharp out of the piece of cardboard it came in. It served well and much better than Forschner.
 

JohnnyChance

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I once talked to a Wuesthof representative and he told me that they are well aware of the superior abilities of J-knives in terms of sharpness, edge retention and wedging but that 99% of the professional users would destroy a J-knife's edge within minutes during service. We talked about hardness and he told me that they tested and the the 58 HRC they currently use is just the right number for being not prone to chipping when abused and holding an edge reasonably well plus responding well to a steel.
Maybe their ****** stainless sucks at 60+ HRC, but I cut a ton of stuff at work with j-knives of all types and have never had problems with chips.
 

iceman01

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Maybe their ****** stainless sucks at 60+ HRC, but I cut a ton of stuff at work with j-knives of all types and have never had problems with chips.
The alloy doesn't suck at a HRC around 60, what sucks are those cooks that have extremely poor skills and tend to abuse the knife, like whacking through smaller bones instead of using the appropriate tool for this task. :)
 

JohnnyChance

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The alloy doesn't suck at a HRC around 60, what sucks are those cooks that have extremely poor skills and tend to abuse the knife, like whacking through smaller bones instead of using the appropriate tool for this task. :)
Also true.
 

iceman01

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The bread knives from Wuesthof are hardened to a Rockwell count in the low sixties.
IIRC Chad Ward mentions that the Solinger alloy is in fact quite good and could take higher HRC numbers w/o problems but a huge increase in performance.
 

Lefty

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If anyone has a 1500F oven, maybe we can find out for ourselves. :)
That would actually be really interesting!
 

Lefty

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I could be mistaken :)
 

Priem

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I'm learning a lot here about J-knives. I may become a convert. Wusthof replaced my entire set of Classic Ikons due to burrs on every knife and staining (they determined it was a run of "soft steel"). The replacements were great and I gave that new set to a relative. I then bought the Ikons with blackwood handles. Half of them were bad, blade staining, burrs, and terrible workmanship of fitting the wood to the handles, e.g. missing epoxy at the bolster/wood seams. Those are going back too.
 

WiscoNole

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Even in my wildest dreams, Wustof couldn't design a knife that I would buy, J-knockoff or not. No soul, no history, it wouldn't be handmade, the list goes on.
 

EdipisReks

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i like the original Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu knives. i wouldn't buy them, but i like them.
 

Lefty

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Wusthof is still a family run company with a pretty good record. I'm not a fan, but I dunno...to knock them, just because seems odd.
 

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