$1900 Knife - is it worth it?

I just ran across a deal offered by CutleryandMore.com.
http://www.cutleryandmore.com/zwilling-ja-henckels-bob-kramer/limited-edition-hand-forged-carbon-damascus-chefs-knife-p134659?gclid=CjwKEAjw7aiwBRCPgdu70arX70wSJADK6iDDVVI2SsN2l9p6YucQg5qbPTWXAsXxchOsk0IUW90Z6xoCmEvw_wcB
Essentially, a fully damascus knife in Bob Kramer’s design, but not actually made by Kramer. For $1900. A limited edition of 170 knives. The claim is that the knife is ‘hand-forged,’ but I’m not sure if that refers to the entire production of the knife or simply making the damascus blank that the knife is then produced from.

And I’m wondering… is it worth it? Not whether it’s something you would consider buying (lord knows I wouldn’t, but I don’t have that kind of money to spend on a knife anyway). Whether the product itself justifies the price tag they’ve put on it.

A little background for the uninitiated: Bob Kramer makes what are essentially the most expensive kitchen knives that I know of, fetching prices nearing $10,000 of late. But as his waiting lists grew longer and longer, he essentially quit taking new orders, making his knives even harder to get a hold of and presumably further driving up prices for his knives. So a number of stores and a couple different manufacturers have begun to sell knives made to his design specifications but not produced directly by Kramer. As far as I know, this is the priciest knife yet of this sort.

So, what’s the full-on damascus Kramer design worth, when some anonymous German factory does the actual dirty work?

‘Pretty impractical thread’ - you might be thinking. Well, yes. But I figured it was a fitting hello to my Chowhound knife friends who’ve migrated over here.

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You got me at “Cowboyardee” – I didn’t read the rest after reading your name.
Good to see you here. :innocent:

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Ok. Now I am at home and I got to see the link.

The Damascus pattern is very beautiful. A bit busy, and definitely a “in your face”. Like you said, there are knives which more expensive than this, and certainly many more cheaper than it. The question really is: Is it worth it?

First, I will not buy it, but that is really because I am not the biggest fan of Kramer, so having a replicate of his knife does not do much for me. But this isn’t really about me, but rather how this knife compares.

In light of this, I still don’t think it is worth this much. This is a Henckels brand knife. It is probably the least “artistic” brand you can get. If one has $2000 to spend, I would think there are better knife out there than this one. I don’t know how much Devin Thomas charges for his knives anyway.

Maybe I’ll get one to cut the foil on a $2200 (street price) bottle of Screaming Eagle. Yeah. Right. Of course, I was just at a home where they’d recently installed an antique-looking 6-burner kitchen stove that cost around $36,000. So there’s that too.

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Are Kramers still a thing?!! I’m waiting for new episodes of Forged by Fire. Nice to see you Cow

Hey Chem
I don’t know what Devin Thomas charges these days. A couple years back, IIRC, he was charging $1500-2000 for one of his damascus blades. Which are more fully handmade and more to my tastes aesthetically anyway. So if for some reason I was looking to drop that kind of money on a knife, it would be easy for me to pass up the Zwilling Kramer and look to Thomas or someone similar.

That said, I guess another way of putting my initial question is this: in 5 or 10 years, will these knives fetch anything close to $1900 if you were to see one on Ebay? I mean, I’m sure someone will buy one at the listed price now. But is that listed price anything close to the real supply/demand-determined value of the blade in question. I think this one in particular is interesting because, in truth, I don’t have a good idea of the answer to that question.

I tend to think such a high price for a non-custom knife (even a very nice one that takes some work to produce) relies heavily on the popular mythology of Kramers as the Finest Kitchen Knives on Earth. That is, it’s perceived by some that Kramers aren’t merely valuable for their artistry, notoriety, or rarity, but because they’re the best knives, whatever that means. Does that semi-popular notion continue to grow as years pass or does it fade? And even if it doesn’t fade, and he’s not replaced by some other hotshot knifemaker, will his mythology continue to support prices for replicas that are essentially in line with fully custom offerings by his competitors?

Good to see you BB. Thanks for pointing me to Forged in Fire. I hadn’t seen it yet.

Now that looks more my style. Although the Kramer is a beautiful knife, I’m not crazy about the shape. Now the Devin Thomas…

Good to see you Cowboy

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I am more clueless than you on this issue, but if I have to guess, I guess not. Wusthof also has an Ikon Damascus knife at $2000:

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/wusthof-ikon-damascus-chefs-knife-in-collectors-box/?pkey=e|wusthof%2Bdamascus|1|best|0|1|24||1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH

I just cannot imagine a decent population would pay for this price and support the price on eBay. Like you said, someone out there may pay for it, but I don’t think it will be a large population. A knife which is hand made by a master like Kramer or Takada can increase value over time, but I just don’t see a Wusthof/Henckels knife has that sustaining power. I just think in 5-10 years, a knife made directly by Devin Thomas (or some other knifesmith) will worth more than one under the Henckels brand.

By the way, Watanabe used to make and sell Damascus knives, but I don’t see him does that much now. I wonder if the business isn’t very good or if that was more of his father’s thing. The one below was openly sold for $1400 in US dollars.

For me the words “Made in Germany; please note, this knife will rust if not cared for properly” equates with a big fat NO! Logic says that if it truly is that collectible, it wouldn’t find itself being hawked on Cutlery&More because some dyed in the wool Kramer devotee would have bought it a long time ago! As you say, there is a waiting list for Kramer knives. Instead they’re looking for a deep pockets sheep to shear… In my humble opinion. '-)

Yup. I’ve been around the block a time or two. Once burned, twice shy.

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Well, contemplating a good knife at $1900 is not my cup of tea, as I’ve thinly julienned plenty of things on a <$50 knife.
I’m intrigued by Kenji from Serious Eats recent endorsement of the kickstarter for Misen http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/09/best-cheap-chefs-knives-misen-equipment-review.html
They look like my style.

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I think it’s a branding/perception thing and probably worth the money. I also could see it bought as a special gift. A lot rides on whether Henkles starts doing this ‘limited edition’ thing with other knives. If this is a limited run of 170 knives and we don’t hear of a similar project for 5 years from them, it will probably hold it’s value and maintain a certain cachet. Otherwise it will be diluted and forgotten. You mentioned that this is already being done with the designed by Kramer name…still hardly enough of this version being made to show up often on Ebay. Doesn’t feel like an investment, so I call it a wash. .

I tend to agree with most of this. I can more easily see how it would be bought as a gift than bought directly by its user-to-be (or even bought speculatively as an investment, as I believe some people have done with Kramer’s originals). Likewise, I agree that the line probably functions more as a way for Zwilling to enhance their brand’s reputation than as an especially profitable offering in its own right - it may even be a loss leader of sorts.

The holding its value thing, I’m not so sure about. That bit seems to rely on a number of factors that I’m not certain will hold up years down the line. Kramer’s own knives will have to maintain (or build upon) their current prestige; the market for Kramer’s damascus knives would probably still have to be pretty tight; perhaps least certain of all, Zwilling and/or Kramer will have to limit the numbers of future high end replica lines similar to this one. It just seems to me that Zwilling doesn’t have to sell all that many of these knives before they actually ease the demand for Kramers. If these sell well, what happens next? Do they make another batch of the same? Do they make another similar limited edition product with a few tweaks? Do the prices go up, or down with the next release? And if this release doesn’t sell well, does the price drop to help sell them off, or does Zwilling just eventually pull them off the market?

With such a limited supply, Zwilling probably decided upon just a few vendors to sell it. If purchases are too slow, they would likely offer it at more outlets- . If it is a loss leader/ prestige thing to help sell a lower model, then does it has some intrinsic value, that in order to duplicate one would have to pay about the same? I don’t know knives well enough, so I am only speculating. Also what if Kramer never makes another knife? Does it gain some value like a painting from a known painter? Does it achieve the level of veneration that Rimbaud achieved from his poetry even tho he gave it up by the time he was 20 years old? I guess not.

I’m with you. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $35 for a knife, and that was a Decker Chinese Chef’s knife ala Martin Yan back in the 80s. It is now lost. I need to buy me another one.

Since that has gone AWOL (as a result of a number of moves), my go-to knife is a Santoku knife that came with a cheap block set. Works excellently well. Sharpens easily on my little Japanese sharpener thingy.

If the OP is looking at this as an investment, I would agree with most of the other views expressed - no, it isn’t worth it and doesn’t seem likely to become a “collectible”.

Plus I doubt if it would fit in the dishwasher.

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Not to me Cowboyardee!

These luxe markets are so fickle. I sold the custom hunter Bob Kramer made me (as in himself, no apprentice, including the leatherwork), and it brought only $800.

I think handmade is worth a little more than machine-made. But Murray Carter’s knife-to-price ratio is about my endpoint for “worth it”.

Aloha and welcome,
Kaleo

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Not worth it as an investment but if you have the dough and love it, then consider it a usable piece of art.

The implicit question with this kind of thread is always, “what do you pay for when you buy a very expensive, high end, luxury knife (or luxury cookware in general)?” Also, more specifically, how does this particular knife fit into the kinds of knives you might expect to pay such a steep price to own?

I think most would agree that this is not a great ‘investment.’ That is, there are better things to put your money into if you expect to make a profit, even including (most likely) other knives. In general, I tend to be fairly pessimistic about the investment value of fine knives in general, but it should be noted that I’m fairly certain some people do indeed buy certain custom knives at least partially for their potential to increase in value, and at any rate there are a number of knife collectors who manage to buy and sell a lot of high end knives at least without losing too much money.

Evaluated as a work of art, this knife seems iffy to me. It’s certainly attractive and most likely very well crafted. But I think the fact that it’s, in a sense, a ‘replica’ hurts it here. It’s hard to quantify the artistic value of original authorship, but in artistic terms (if nowhere else), I feel that the ‘authorship’ of the knife is a relevant factor in its value. I suppose, of course, that this is quite subjective. Also, there are other knives in a similar price range (the Devin Thomas gyuto I pictured upthread for example) that seem to match or surpass this blade in artistry without raising the thorny issues of authorship or production methods. Even so, I’d say the Kramer replica in question here probably does still have some legitimate artistic merit.

You can also evaluate a blade on its performance vs other knives, but I think most or all here would agree that this knife couldn’t possibly perform well enough to justify its price tag. There are some excellent performers in the ~$60 and below range. And some truly wonderful chef knives in the $200 range - I don’t know if any significant performance improvement over these blades are even possible. Enough of an improvement to justify a tenfold price increase on that basis alone? I’d say that’s impossible (and from what I know of Kramer’s knives, I doubt they genuinely perform better than some of those fantastic $200 blades at all). With that said, I still suspect there is a narrative that some (perhaps naive) consumers have bought into in which certain knives that have maybe received a lot of publicity or been highly reviewed by publications such as Cook’s Illustrated are genuinely ‘the best’ knives, and that these knives perform so much better than the rest that the difference would be readily apparent to any user who happened to chop a carrot with em. I could see this product being attractive to such a buy, either to own or as a gift.

Finally there is the branding aspect of this knife. The most obvious way to justify this knife’s price tag is based off the tremendous brand Kramer has built for himself in high end kitchen knives, along with the fact that his original blades simply aren’t available right now for those who might like to buy them. I’m not personally big on the Kramer brand, and that tends to make me view this product with a cynical eye - from this perspective, a $2K price tag seems a little bit like price gouging to me. That’s about what he was selling his blades for himself not all that long ago, and that was without the benefit of the production means surely being used for this series of blades. YMMV.

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No. Marketing gimmick. You could buy much better blades from http://japanesechefsknife.com/ and for a fraction of the price. These are just these companies trying to profit from the resurgence of “Damascus” knives. Now, if it were made by Bob himself, you’d have something - but not this.

If you want a nice knife, check out the PCK link. :smile:

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold